How do I maintain my canyoning and caving equipment?

 Well-maintained equipment is safer, lasts longer and is less likely to be rejected. Therefore, take good care of your equipment and inspect it regularly or have it inspected (annually).

CanyonZone provides advice here for maintaining, marking, cleaning and protecting your canyoning and caving equipment.

Your equipment does not have eternal life, especially with items that are part of the PPE fall protection, there is often a maximum lifespan. The only exception to this are steel and aluminum products. Service life is not the same as service life. The useful life depends on how often material is used and the way in which it is used. Lifespan and useful life sometimes differ per manufacturer. Information about this can be found in the product label.
Example:
Beal ropes* have a maximum lifespan of 15 years and a maximum useful life of 10 years. In other words, you can have a Beal rope "on the shelf" for 5 years without affecting the maximum useful life. Petzl ropes have a maximum life and use life of 10 years.

*the maximum lifespan of ropes is often based on occasional use under very clean conditions. In practice, we almost never see a rope that lasts 10 years. Depending on the type of use, the intensity of use and the circumstances (dirt, dust, water, etc.), it is advisable to replace ropes in time.
Advice: read the user manual of your product.

What causes damage?

  • Wear with normal use
  • A fall (tearing or stretching of stitching and webbings)
  • Prolonged exposure to UV radiation
  • Contact with chemical products (acids, oil, fuel)
  • Storage in damp or insufficiently ventilated areas
  • Contact with heat sources (welding shards, gas burners, cigarette butts)
  • Rough handling (scuffing along walls or against other material; an aluminum carabiner used on a steel lanyard wears very quickly)
  • Use in dirty conditions (a rope that has been used in a grit environment, for example, will add extra wear to the hardware used with this rope)
  • Wrong use
  • Contact with salty sea air

Advice: only mark material as permitted. Incorrectly marked can mean rejection of material that needs to be inspected.

When does material need to be replaced?

An inspection is a snapshot. Before use, always check whether the material is still suitable. You can pay attention to:

  • Is the item still identifiable (readable label and registration number)
  • Visible deformations or noticeable wear marks, e.g. kinks in the rope or fluffy belt loops
  • Loose straps or stitching
  • Non-cleanable pollution
  • Melt traces or heating phenomena
  • The maximum service life specified by the manufacturer
  • Spots from acids, oils, chemicals or solvents

To mark

By marking we mean applying a name, coding or, for example, a piece of colored tape for recognition.

  • Don't: Don't use markers, paint, tape or stickers on any safety parts of your equipment. The chemical properties of these products can affect the structure and strength of nylon and plastic. Do not mark parts that rub against other devices or ropes. Do not remove labels attached to an item.
  • Do: only mark with suitable means in the areas intended for this purpose. Prevent damage and keep original product markings visible (label, serial number, etc.).

Metal: Engraving is not recommended. You can engrave on the frame next to the serial number on some products with an electric engraving pen less than 0.1 mm deep. If necessary, use a little bit of metal paint or tape. Do not mark areas where a rope or other material will pass. Keep product markings visible.

Harness: the label of your harness often has space for your name. You can also write your name on a separate label and attach it to your harness with a tie wrap. Marking with adhesive tape is only permitted on comfort parts (parts without a safety function). Prevent a tie wrap or tape from getting in the way when using your harness.

Helmet: rather not mark your helmet at all, but otherwise use special helmet stickers without plasticizers. Do not write on your helmet, especially not on the foam or hard helmet shell. There are special transparent helmet stickers. You can stick this on a helmet and then write it on it.

Rope: The label of a rope shows the name of the manufacturer, the type of rope, the EN relevant standard, the length and diameter, the identification number, product/model number and (important) the date of manufacture. There are special marker pens without chemicals for applying a center mark. With many ropes, one of the wires in the core of the rope also has a code with information.

For rope label see: Rope Accessories

Washing your materials

  • Don't: Do not use a pressure washer, degreaser, stain remover or solvent. Do not dry material in the sun or near a heat source such as a radiator or stove.
  • Do: rinse with cold water or wash with lukewarm water (max. 30 degrees) and PH neutral soap or rope/PPE cleaner. If necessary, use a small brush to remove dirt. Rinse material with clean water after washing. Material got wet? Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.

Harness: We prefer hand washing a harness ourselves. Do you want to wash a harness in the washing machine? Then do this at max. 30 degrees, with the delicate washing program, in a thick cloth bag, without spinning and choose the lowest possible speed. Metal parts otherwise damage the washing machine.

Ropes: you clean a rope in the same way as a harness, by hand or in the washing machine. A cloth bag is not necessary but recommended because of the knotting of the rope. Keep in mind the weight that your washing machine can handle. There are special rope brushes and PPE cleaners without plasticizers. A dirty rope can damage other material, accelerate wear (greatly) and reduce the braking effect of devices. That's why keeping your rope clean is important. For example, use a rope bag to prevent unnecessary soiling.

Metal: rinse or wash with water at a maximum temperature of 30 degrees and a suitable PPE cleaner or PH neutral soap. Of course, you don't throw metal in the washing machine. Also be careful with high pressure: you can blow away the necessary oil/lubrication.

Advice: rope very dirty? Wash it before your next use.

Storing and transporting your material

  • Don't: Do not store your rope near sharp objects or near grit, dust, sand, etc. Do not store heavy carabiners or other hardware near helmets and visors because of the risk of damage to both interior and exterior work.
  • Do: store material in a well-ventilated place out of direct sunlight. Keep material away from corrosive (corrosive) substances such as chemicals, batteries and seawater or salty sea air. Be careful with damp areas or waterproof bags/containers because of mold. Ideal is a humidity between 45-65% at a temperature of 10 – 20 degrees Celsius. Use a special protective cover for your helmet and visor.

Advice: keep equipment organized and tidy so that you don't accidentally step on it or spill something.

Lubricate carabiners

Use Kong Teflon Oil, sewing machine oil or graphite powder. Clean oil residue well so that it does not transfer to plastic parts, strap loops or ropes. We know that techies like to use WD40, but we don't recommend it for lubricating carabiners. WD40 can dry out the hinge and spring and accelerate wear.

Plunge pool semi-static ropes

Before first use, soak a semi-static rope in water for 24 hours and allow the rope to dry slowly (not in the dryer, not in the sun and not near a heat source). Semi-static ropes shrink by a maximum of 5% upon first contact with water. After this immersion bath you immediately have your 'final rope length'. It is therefore sometimes useful to order a longer rope than you initially have in mind. In addition, the sheath of new ropes is usually very slippery due to various chemicals used during production. After the plunge, the rope is a bit stiff, giving you a better grip and thus control over the maneuvers you are going to perform.
For more extensive advice regarding ropes see: Information about rope: choice and maintenance.

Advice: Use rope guards to protect a rope from heat and chafing against sharp or rough surfaces.

Material protection tips Petzl (English)

Would you like to delve a little deeper into the themes of lifespan and wear? Then watch this Petzl video (17:45 minutes/English).

FAQ overview: Go back.

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