Matik. The new belay / descender device by Camp

The new Matik belay device, by Camp, forms part of an exclusive group of belay devices with auto-blocking system for both the leader and second climber. It is specially designed for sport climbing.

The assisted braking capability of the Matik does not relieve belayers of the need to adhere to the basic principles of belaying and rappelling. It is imperative to be attentive to the climber’s progress and always keep control of the brake line.

  • Body: Hot forged aluminium, precision cast stainless steel.
  • Use: Single dynamic ropes
  • Range of use: 8.6-10.2mm
  • Optimum range: 8.6-9.6mm
  • Weight: 270 grams

When you first hold the Matik, it stands out for its robustness and construction although, at 270g, it is heavier than other comparable products, such as the Grigri 2 (185g). In principle this is a handicap, but bearing in mind that its main use is for sport climbing and not trad. or alpine climbing, the extra 100g is a minor factor for most, especially if you consider some of its advantages, such as that the Matik barely generates any heat during intense use.

The three main strong points are as follows:

  • Placement of the karabiner: the Matik only has one hole, and the karabiner can only be attached if the Matik is completely closed. This means it is impossible to make a mistake when attaching it to your harness or belay point (in the case of the second climber). It therefore eliminates the kinds of accidents caused by these kinds of errors.
    • Anti-panic system: when you lower the climber, if you open the top handle too far – which would cause an uncontrolled descent with any other belay device – the Matik blocks automatically. So if the belayer panics during the descent and completely opens the handle and doesn't let go, the Matik takes over and blocks the rope, avoiding an accident. It's simply a marvellous safety system.

      When lowering on high friction routes, you may find that this system doesn't give enough opening. In this case, and only if you are an expert climber, the lower lever can be activated directly.

  • Dynamism: there is a slight amount of rope slippage before the device blocks, due to a special cam system that absorbs the fall and reduces impact force, increasing safety both of the climber and of the belayer, who both receive less impact. This also means the rope and the anchors suffer less.

    This is achieved by the cam rotating and aligning with the rope before it is captured completely. During this small rotation, the rope brakes progressively.

    The Matik provides exceptional dynamism and there's a greater contact area between the cam and rope, which makes the rope suffer less.

At first, you need to take some time to familiarize yourself with this new system, but once you get used to it, it is simple and easy to use and feels natural, agile and ergonomic. We think that paying out slack with your hand on the brake line - using either the normal or fast option indicated by the brand – is easier than with other devices on the market.

Extremely important: with this, and any other belay device, always, we repeat, always keep your hand on the brake line.

This belay device can also be used for Top Rope. Camp recommends another system for feeding rope, which we tried out in the video and avoids problems caused by greater rope pressure on the device. It works perfectly.

And of course, even though it is mainly for sport climbing, the Matik can also be used for belaying a second.

The Matik, is, without a doubt, a very interesting innovation with several improvements as far as safety is concerned, which are always welcome. Apart from the auto-blocking system with the double-hinged handle for the descent, maybe the greatest innovation is its dynamism when braking. This dynamism minimizes impact force, which doesn't only make the device safer but also minimizes stress on the climber, belayer, anchors and rope, making them longer lasting and reducing breakage.

However, we have to say that, with ropes over 9.6mm (upper limit of its optimum range), the rope doesn't run as smoothly through the device. For this reason, in our opinion, it's an exceptional assisted braking belay device for modern ropes with a narrow diameter, for use mainly by high grade climbers on zig-zagging routes.

Because of its advantages in relation to its competitors, we particularly recommend it for very high grade climbers, on walls with large overhangs and who usually use a narrow single rope. Those who often suffer innumerable flight falls when trying out a route will greatly benefit from the dynamism of this device, and it will also reduce the risk of accidents caused by the impact force on your protection.

However, even though the device can be used on ropes up to 10.2mm, the nearer you get to this diameter, the greater the friction on the rope, which means it is harder to feed out rope than with other similar devices. For this reason, we think it's a great choice, with obvious improvements and advantages in comparison to other devices on the market, and highly recommendable for ropes up to 9.6mm and we'd even put it above its competitors, but it has one handicap: it doesn't handle ropes as well if they have a large diameter.

Matik by Camp

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