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CT Sparrow Review

After seeing the CT Sparrow in action this past summer when I was in Europe, I knew that it was going to be a device that would change the game for slackline pulley systems. This device has so many great features that make it a fantastic braking device, it's like it was made for the slackline industry.

Some things that I noticed right when I received the CT Sparrow:

The Build Quality

Build Quality

This device is made so well. It feels super solid and strong, which is comforting when you putting a lot of force on your line. I feel confident that this brake will hold even with several thousand pounds of tension on your slackline (behind a pulley system, of course).

Also, the dimensions of this device are optimal for embedding within the SMC 3" Double PMP's. It's just skinny enough that you don't have any friction from the tensioning ropes rubbing on the handle or sideplate, provided you reeve your pulleys correctly (more later).


The Handle

The Handle

The handle is quite long at just over 5" and is extremely robust feeling. It's made from a hardened plastic and is firmly attached to the body of the CT Sparrow. There are three modes that the handle can be in: Stand-by, Rest, and Speed Control. The Stand-by mode is for storing and when you want to lock-off the tension. However, I do not think it actually locks the cam in place like on the Petzl I'D, but it's a good mode for getting the handle out of the way once you are done tensioning. Rest mode is for when you are feeding the rope through the device during tensioning. Speed Control mode is for detensioning.


Rotating Sideplates

Rotating Sideplates

Just like many other types of brakes on the market, the Sparrow has rotating sideplates that can clip to the anchoring connector. This allows easy rope installation without having to disconnect the device from your connector, which is quite convenient if you are doing the Thread-As-you-Go tensioning method (article coming soon).


Anchor Hole Size

Anchor Hole Size

This device has a good size anchor hole that will accept many type of connectors. However, since the sideplates come to a point near the anchor hole, this device works best with a quicklink-like connector. It does not sit very well on the pin of a shackle.


The Friction Hook

The Friction Hook

One of the coolest features of the CT Sparrow is the friction hook. This little contraption will allow you to add more friction when you are letting out tension. You won't have to redirect the rope through a carabiner with this device, you can simply use the friction hook. I was able to release a load of over 1,000 lbf that was directly on the Sparrow with no problem. This is not recommended to try as it is well beyond the working load limit of the device.


The Experiment!

As with previous experiments, I tested the CT Sparrow by setting up an 80 foot slackline with a 5:1 pulley system using the SMC 3" Double PMP's as the main pulleys, the CT Sparrow as the brake embedded on the inside of the SMC's, then the Elite Multiplier Kit as my multiplier. I then pulled the slackline as tight as I possibly could, noting the peak force when I was finished.

Then, once the peak force was achieved, I wanted to test how easy releasing tension was with the device.

I was able to achieve a force of just over 2,900 lbf (12.9 kN) using the CT Sparrow. If you remember from previous tests, I was only able to achieve just over 2,700 lbf (12.0 kN) with the Petzl ID. That's a 7% increase in max force, which is notable. Reaching this high of a force was not that bad, up until the very end. It felt about the same as the other brakes I have tried with this method, but the smooth and large cam within the CT Sparrow helped a bit.

After reaching this force, I had to see how well releasing tension was with the Sparrow. So, I redirected the rope through the friction hook and opened the handle. The initial opening was a bit difficult, but once it was open, controlling the rate of release was SUPER easy. Once I get to lower forces below 500 lbf total, pulling the rope through was a bit difficult. There may be a trick to this that I am unaware of, but it's not totally intuitive as I would expect it to be. All-in-all, I think releasing tension was on par or better than the I'D or RIG.

A few notes about the device that I figured out after using it: This device is meant for 11mm ropes. Anything smaller than that and you will experience slipping starting at around 350 lbf (as high as 500 lbf). If you use 11mm rope, it won't slip until very high forces well beyond 1,000 lbf directly on the brake. Also, installing and uninstalling the rope must be done from the loaded end to the tail end. You cannot install the rope starting at the tail end as there is a small lobe that prevents the loaded end of the rope from falling out of the device. This lobe also prevents the installation of the loaded strand if the tail has already been inserted in the device. Lastly, when embedding the CT Sparrow within the SMC 3" Double PMP's, you must position the handle on the opposite side of where the first rope strand enters the static-side pulley. For example, if your first rope strand (the strand that is connected to the becket of the moving pulley) enters the static-side pulley from the top, then the handle of the CT Sparrow must face downwards. Conversely, if the first strand enters the static-side pulley from the bottom, the Sparrow's handle must face up. This will prevent any friction with this strand of rope and the handle of the Sparrow, which can rob you of precious mechanical advantage.

After using the device for a short time within a pulley system, I can honestly say that this device will definitely replace the Petzl I'D for a top tier braking device. It's extremely robust, well built, super strong, easy to detension with, can be embedded, and has an easy-to-use interface. I would highly recommend this device to those of you who are looking for a brake for longer lines or higher tension lines.

Here is a nice chart with the specs of the Petzl I'D side-by-side with the CT Sparrow, just for comparison:


Attribute Petzl I'D S CT Sparrow
Braking Method Camming Method Camming Method
Ease of Tension Release Easy to Very Easy Easy to Very Easy
Strength Under 550 lbf, MBS of 14 kN Under 550 lbf, MBS of > 14 kN
Weight 530 grams (18.7 ounces) 520 grams (18.3 ounces)
Price $234.95 $199.95


Here is a video of the test we did:

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