The Matik has been a long standing project for CAMP, who have put in a lot of time, effort, and money into getting its design and features right. The focus was to create an assisted breaking device that delivered unparalleled safety and control – no small order… Yet certain features such as the graduated camming action and anti-panic function definitely raised our interest when the product was first shown at the ISPO trade show earlier this year, the question is – how did it work in practice?
The Matik is compatible with a wide range of ropes from alarmingly thin (8.6mm!!) to reassuringly chunky (10.2mm) and one thing that was immediately noticeable was its effectiveness with modern, super thin (circa 9mm) single ropes. Now I am one of those luddites that hasn`t upgraded/invested in a new assisted breaking device since I bought my first Gri Gri 10 years ago, hence the difference was quite noticeable: the Matik caught/grabbed effectively whilst taking in and arresting falls (as you’d hope - was very controllable whilst lowering, aided by the hinged lowering handle and straight rope orientation (which I’ll discuss in further detail later).
On the other end of the scale, one thing that was challenging was with ropes at the other end of the spectrum. A few years back I remember measuring the diameter of my 10.2mm; granted, it had been up El Cap a couple of times, Half Dome once, probably used for abseiling at some time or another, and also been my sport rope since the dawn of time, BUT I was still shocked when it weighed in at a meaty 12mm (I mean it was thick, but not that thick). Anyhow, I digress… I don’t think I am unique in owning such a rope, everyone has one, and this is where a potential problem arises: the Matik is arguably too grabby on such ropes. This makes it difficult, but not impossible, to pay out slack and belay effectively. Now there are obvious solutions to this problem*, but if you’re like me and you have a rope for red-pointing and a rope for dogging/working then you don’t want a separate belay device for each of these. I suspect that this will become less of an issue in time, as it appears that nowadays the standard single rope is actually sub 10mm, but for those of us with that tatty rope in the corner it is worth mentioning.
On the note of belaying effectively, it has to be said that you do need to take time to learn how to use the Matik. As mentioned previously, I have come from using a Gri Gri and am therefore used to the rope going out the side, whereas on the Matik it is designed to come out the front in order to eliminate the twisting action. It took a bit of getting used to, both on my part and my climbing partners` who were short roped a few times whilst I was getting used to it. That said, once familiar it became second nature and – to those not already familiar with using an assisted breaking device – would probably be a far more natural action simply due to its similarity to a standard belay device.
Another unique function of the Matik is its gradual camming action that is designed to reduce impact force and allow a softer catch. It does this by allowing the cam to run alongside it before engaging it, rather than the simple blunt action that most assisted breaking devices offer. The idea behind this is that not only does it reduce the impact force - which is better for your body, gear and rope - but also allows a much softer catch than many of its competitors. Now I am not here to test these figures objectively (as many will wish to on the Forums), but from a subjective climber`s perspective I did notice a difference; however, that said I still think it requires knowledge of how to give a soft catch before it can truly be used effectively - something many British climbers are guilty of not knowing (click here to read Adrian Berry`s UKC Article on Belaying Dynamically). Without this knowledge users can expect to find a subtle difference, but certainly not make the most of it.
If you are after a well made, high spec assisted breaking device then look no further.
It’s built to last and has a whole range of useful features that no other device has on offer; however, if you are after such a top of the range device you will ideally need a thinner, performance rope to go alongside it as you may have trouble paying out with your older/thicker workhorse.
The assisted braking action of the Matik derives from an innovative camming design that makes the device safer and easier on the climber, the belayer, the anchor and the rope.