Rock climbers put themselves in strange, dangerous places, for fun. They have some quite snazzy equipment, and they depend on that kit for their life. A belay device, if it breaks, will probably kill or maim someone. It’s one of the links that must not fail, ever.
The Ocun Ferry is a new to the UK belay device. It’s used to keep your buddy alive when she’s climbing, and it’s used to get yourself off the mountain as an abseil device. The ferry also has an added feature in its ‘Guide mode’ where an climber can bring up to two seconds with an auto-blocking system – and this – along with the ability to belay with twin or half ropes – puts the Ferry firmly into the ‘traditional’ climbing sphere.
Functionally, this device handles really well. It’s light, it’s easy to belay, catch falls and lower smoothly (I’ve tested 9mm and 10.2mm single ropes and 8.5mm halves). On pure function, this belay device is at least as good as any I’ve used.
It must be a nightmare designing climbing gear. Make it look too substantial, and nobody will buy it because of weight. Make it too slim and svelte, and nobody will buy it because they are contemplating dangling their whole (apparently short) future off this flimsy-looking thing. I am absolutely sure that Ocun have done all tests, and that the Ferry has passed all required accreditations, but there’s a balance to be struck, and for me, personally, this device seems a little light.
You may be less risk-averse than I am, though, so you might think it’s fine. I also have a mild concern about how it’ll wear, as the structure of the thing is quite thin – extended wear will produce sharp edges more quickly than the meatier competitors. Time will tell, and I’ll report back in a year or two.
And finally, I was a little surprised that it was theoretically possible to rig the guide mode upside down, such that the auto-blocking feature may not work. Which is only a little thing, but just might result in the death of your two favourite friends.
I suspect that this review says more about me than about the Ocun Ferry. I’m a coward. And I’m happy with that. When I’m dangling off a cliff, frightened, tired, cold and beaten up I’ve got a lot to think about. Ropes, knots, my climbing buddy, the anchors, rock-fall, the sun going down and leaving my cold corpse for the wolves.. well, you get the idea. I really don’t want to add to that mental burden ‘Did I rig the belay the right way up?’ or ‘I wish that thing looked a bit more solid’
- Nice handling
- Smooth belaying, lowering, guide mode
- Wide range of rope diameters.
- Very light
- trad, sport, ice, guide – one device good for everything.
- Worryingly light?
- *very* slight possibility of rigging guide mode upside-down.
So in summary: The Ocun Ferry is a perfectly competent if (for me) a worryingly light belay device that handles nicely and probably won’t lead to anyone plunging screaming to their death.
More: First Ascent