In the summer of 2019, I bought a brand new Petzl Scorpio via ferrata set and since then I have used it on several via ferrata trails. The Petzl Scorpio is a very compact and lightweight via ferrata set which utilizes tear-out webbing for energy absorption. Before getting the Petzl Scorpio I was using a Y via ferrata set with friction brake. I bought that via ferrata set in 2007 and despite regular use it was still in pretty good condition in 2019. Nevertheless, it was very heavy, and the friction brake mechanism really annoyed me because it is equipped with a braking rope (see here) which often gets in the way while you are climbing. That’s just how via ferrata sets with friction brake work, but it is not surprising that most via ferrata sets nowadays utilize tear-out webbing instead of a friction brake. It had become also time for me to switch to a newer and better via ferrata set.
I decided for Petzl Scorpio because it’s very light (380g / 13 oz.) and has some neat features such as elastic arms, carabiners with an automatic locking system and a short arm for resting. Furthermore, Petzl is a reputable brand and when it comes to so vital safety gear I for sure don’t want to take my chances with products from unknown brands. In the summer of 2019, I thoroughly tested the Petzl Scorpio via ferrata set and below is what I learned about it.
The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the Petzl Scorpio via ferrata set was its low weight, small size and high-quality materials. Petzl Scorpio is with the weight of 380 grams (13 oz.) at least 30% lighter than my previous via ferrata set. It comes with a pouch and when packed it is super small. Hence, it doesn’t take up much space in the backpack. I was also very impressed over the materials. All parts are robust and sturdy. The carabiners are made of aluminium while the other parts are made of polyethylene and polyester.
Attaching the set to the climbing harness
I used the via ferrata set for the first time on the Otmarjeva Pot via ferrata trail. When I started attaching the via ferrata set to the climbing harness I noticed that the attachment loop is quite small. This turned out to be slightly annoying as the loop is so small that it’s quite a hassle to attach the via ferrata set to the climbing harness with a lark’s head knot as it is advised. To attach the via ferrata set this way you need to push the energy absorption mechanism (pouch with tear-out webbing) through the loop, and quite some force and precision are required to do so successfully.
Nevertheless, the more I used the via ferrata set, the easier it got. Hence, I don’t consider this a major problem. You can also attach the via ferrata set to the climbing harness with a screw-lock carabiner, but this is not the recommended way of attaching via ferrata set to the climbing harness because it introduces another component to the safety system. When it comes to safety systems you want as little components as possible.
Arms and carabiners
The Petzl Scorpio via ferrata set has two elastic arms and an additional short arm for resting. I found the elastics arms incredibly useful because they allow you to easily attach the lanyard to the cable, even if it’s far away. Furthermore, they are not in the way while they are not attached to the cable. Being elastic, they retract and thus become very short. I haven’t measured them myself but according to Petzl they measure 77 cm (30 in.) retracted and 108 cm (43 in.) extended. These two arms come with Vertigo wire-lock carabiners which have an automatic locking system, that makes them easy to handle: You simply push the gate of the carabiner down and inwards to open it, and when you release it, it locks automatically. The carabiners are also ergonomically shaped and thus fit nicely in hand. I really enjoyed using the arms and carabiners on every single trail. They are well-made and easy to use.
The Scorpio via ferrata set also has a short arm, between the two long elastic arms. It measures 32 cm (12 in.) in length and is intended for resting. This short arm doesn’t come with a carabiner, but if you are into via ferratas and climbing you probably have a spare carabiner at home. Otherwise you can buy them separately. I myself had attached a screw-lock carabiner to it before I first used the via ferrata set. This was a good decision as I had to use the short arm on my first trail with this new via ferrata set. I had trouble coming over an overhanging section and I simply clipped into the ladder to rest for a minute or two to regain strength. Hence, I can confirm that the short arm is a super useful feature.
Energy absorption mechanism
The Petzl Scorpio via ferrata set utilizes a tear-out webbing energy absorption mechanism. The tear-out webbing is safely stored in the pouch, but because the pouch has a zipper, it can easily be examined. Luckily, I have yet (!) to test the energy absorption mechanism, but I have no doubts it’s safe. Petzl is after all one of the most reputable brands when it comes to climbing equipment.
All in all, I’m more than satisfied with the Petzl Scorpio via ferrata set. It’s lightweight, easy to use and small when packed in the pouch. I also really liked the elastic arms, handy auto-lock carabiners and the short arm for rest phases. I was less impressed over the attachment loop which is a bit too small for hassle-free attachment of the via ferrata set to the climbing harness with a lark’s head knot. Nevertheless, this is a minor flaw. Switching to Petzl Scorpio was a delight and I can’t wait to use it again in the summer.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.