Edelrid Via Ferrata Review
Our Fort William store manager Ben was lucky enough to be able to test both of Edelrid's via ferrata kits - the Cable Comfort 2.3 Set and the Cable Lite 2.3 Set on a recent trip to the Dolomites. Both kits impressed me with their ease-of-use and lack of bulk making them very easy to get on with.
Construction is the same for both in that they utilise two elasticated high-strength webbing 'arms' which connect to your harness via a webbing loop which is cow's-tailed through your harnesses belay loop.
The shock absorber mechanism is housed in a nicely-compact 'pouch' between this loop and the elasticated tapes keeping everything neat and tidy and out of the way: no loops of rope to tangle up with gear etc. These absorbers ensure a low fall-factor in the event of a slip or fall and conform to stringent TUV test procedures for via ferrata kits.
The Comfort has the additional feature of a swivel joint at this point which helps prevent twisting of the tapes when clipping/unclipping. A nice touch and one that works well in practice.
At the business end of both kits are the carabiners. As a climber and one who has used via ferratas to access routes, I am used to standard screwgates and slings to protect these passages. The benefit of Edelrid's carabiners is that they make the process of clipping and unclipping a doddle and help prevent unintentional gate opening.
The Lite features a pair of robust Triton 'biners with an easy-use palm-squeeze mechanism with a more conventional karabiner round-bar look, while the Comfort uses a patented OneTouch flat-bar design. Both worked very well but the Comfort's carabiners had the slight edge and were more intuitive to operate. Both were easy to use with gloved hands and never missed a beat when moving from/to cable, stanchion or ladder.
I have used several types of via ferrata kits in the past but both of these Edelrid kits are amongst the best. I particularly liked the ease of attachment and the compact design of the shock absorber pouch making them easy to put on and easy to get on with when on the move. They come in at a similar weight: 460g for the Comfort and 480g for the Lite and both are provided with a handy nylon/mesh stuff bag for storage.
In fact I liked them so much I ended up buying both sets after the trip and look forward to using them again on more via ferrata outings in the future!