The traditional descender is the Figure of 8. Most modern belay devices allow abseiling as well, but it must be remembered that a figure of eight will dissipate heat quicker than duel purpose devices. They will therefore last longer and reduce the effective wear upon the rope. For long abseils, a fig 8 or Petzl Huit is a much better choice. The Huit is designed to reduce twisting, and is kinder to the rope. You can find prussik cord for backing up your abseil here.
Centres may wish to consider the DMM Anka, which has wings to stop the rope-locking that can occur with many other descenders. More elaborate descenders like the Petzl I'd, Rig and Stop, can be found in the Professional section of the website.
The Air Force 8 is a lightweight "Figure 8" style descender, perfect for canyoneering, cold weather abseiling and high altitude mountaineering.
The Petzl Huit is a classic figure 8 rapelling device for descending on single or double ropes. Its square shape reduces twisting of the ropes and the formation of a lark's head hitch. The small hole can be used either with thin ropes if necessary, or as a belay plate. For use on ropes from 8 to 13mm diameter.
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