Lanyard Lengths and Rope Grabs

Most window cleaners prefer to have the longest lanyard possible for their rope grab. Generally they consider 3′ to be the minimum acceptable, but would prefer to have 6′ if possible. This is largely because they are using manual devices that must be moved every time they want to descend. When you descend, you can only go as far as your lanyard before you have to stop and move the rope grab again. The shorter the lanyard, the more often you’ll have to stop and move your backup device. That means that the job will take longer, and it will be plain annoying. There are a lot of great new rope grabs on the market, but many of them have short lanyards. Some are as small as 12″! How can you possibly work with such a short lanyard?

The shorter the lanyard, the more often you’ll have to stop and move your backup device. That means that the job will take longer, and it will be plain annoying.Jacob Wallace

Self Trailing Rope Grabs

If you haven’t heard of Self Trailing rope grabs before, today is your lucky day. Unlike manual devices that you are probably used to, they follow you down the rope as you descend. You don’t have to stop and move them. In fact, for the most part, you don’t even have to give them a second thought. What you’ll find is that even though the lanyard is shorter, the fact that the device trails makes it overall easier to use.

Advantages of Shorter Lanyards

If you get a device that is self-trailing it’s not as important to have a longer lanyard. Plus, there are some benefits to having a shorter lanyard.

Fall Distance

Having a shorter lanyard means that you have a shorter potential fall distance. That’s a huge benefit because you greatly reduce fall forces and chance of injury. Some devices even allow you to use lanyards that have no shock pack. The fall distance is so short that you don’t even need it!

Cost of Lanyards

Many self-trailing devices can be used with lanyards that are a fraction of the price of longer shock absorbing lanyards. The Camp Goblin and the Kong Backup, for example, allow you to use a webbing lanyard that is less than $20.

Replaceable Parts

Some of the best self-trailing rope grabs, such as the Petzl ASAP or the Camp Goblin, are sold separately from the lanyard. This allows you to choose which lanyard you want, and to replace it if it wears out before the device does (of course if shock loaded the lanyard and grab must be replaced).

Give Self Trailing Rope Grabs A Try

If you’ve never given a self-trailing rope grab a try, we highly recommend it. You’ll be astounded at how much smoother many of these devices are than their manual counterparts. Plus, you’ll find that many of these devices have more features and are more user-friendly. You can check out some great self-trailing rope grabs below.

Jacob WallaceLanyard Lengths and Rope Grabs


    1. Author
      Jacob Wallace

      Each grab will have its own requirements for what lanyards will work. Neither the ASAP or the Goblin is meant for a 3ft lanyard. The ASAP can be used with the ASAP’sorber or the Absorbica. The Goblin can be used with up to a 29″ webbing lanyard (no shock pack) or a 23.6″ dynamic rope lanyard. It works especially well with the Goblin 16″ lanyard.

  1. S Jones

    The individual devices manufacturer will obviously recommend you to use their lanyards but that doesn’t necessarily mean other lanyards won’t work on the device or that the device wont perform well in a shock load event. I read the original asap manual and saw nothing that convinced me that using their asapsorber was a definite requirement. I called you folks at the time and was told a 3ft lanyard was fine “cuz other people do it all the time.” I just would like a definite answer. I understand you aren’t the maker or an independent inspector but eventually this question has to be answered definitively if you are selling safety equipment you know people are confused about.

    1. Author
      Jacob Wallace

      Apologies if someone at abc told you a 3′ lanyard would be fine with the ASAP, that’s definitely not the case. I’ve personally watched drop tests proving that to be catastrophic. The ASAP is a fantastic device but it is very finely tuned. If too much force is put on it, the teeth can cut through the sheath of the rope, causing a fall. The two Petzl lanyards that can be used with it are both carefully calibrated to prevent that from happening. While other lanyards might work (though from my personal experience, a 3′ shock absorbing lanyard definitely won’t), there is no guarantee that they will and Petzl has expressly said that you should only use their two choices. Petzl has said this in the compatibility section of the Tech Notice ( So, in short, using lanyards other than Petzl’s Asap’sorber or Absorbica is potentially unsafe as well as against the manufacturer’s express instructions. Even if you don’t have a safety incident, that’s something that you’ll be unlikely to get around in case of an OSHA inspection.

      Hope that helps!

  2. S Jones

    Ok thank you for a definite answer and the first-hand experience. I hope no one has gotten hurt because of this confusion.

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