New Day, New Brake (Sla’Knot, by Betrand Favier)

Studying Betrand Favier’s instructional video on the Sla’Knot friction hitch inspired us to answer the interweb’s call and gleefully copy what this brilliant man has devised after endless hours of pioneering work.

First impression:

It works, when it works. It doesn’t work, when it doesn’t work.

There is something peculiar about this hitch, that constantly reminds me of quantum physics. It appears to be the case, that the Sla’Knot, as long as not being tested, is in some sort of superposition between being „absolutely mind-bendingly AWESOME“ and „Oehm, have you tried poking it with a stick?“. And you only really know of which sort your hitch is after you load it and it collapses into one of the 2 states. Regardless of how meticulous we tried to tie and dress it beforehand, the outcome was always completely and utterly random.

If you finally manage to find a properly working pair of ropes (we didn’t have too many to play with), the magic is about to unfold, as the Sla’Knot majestically fulfills it’s duty whilst balancing itself between being a friction hitch and some entangled mess, vaguely reminiscent of a kraken that has been run over by a massive truck. When it works, it works fantastically!

Our first reality-check was carried out this morning with -8°C outside and pleasurable gusts of wind. Setting up was interrupted by numerous push-up sessions to prevent my fingers from becoming totally senseless in the bitter cold. Out setup consisted of 30m of the Sigma N (Jormungand!) tubular nylon, some steelies, rings, an ascender and a pair of double pulleys from CT, a 10.5mm static rope, a 3″ SMC single and 2m of 7mm nylon cord for the Sla’Knot.

All in all, we rigged and de-rigged 5 times, re-tying the friction hitch twice without a problem. We weren’t able to try the recommended diameter ratio of 1:1, because our static ropes were too stiff to consistently provide the necessary holding power. This might be the reason why the detensioning process was a little rocky at first. A different cord has already been ordered and should hopefully solve that issue.

Conclusion:

AWESOME! The Sla’Knot works a lot better than expected. There is absolutely no friction in the system, even better than with the TRAXIONs or the RollnLock (they tend to ‚hum‘, if you pull too quickly). No conventional brake like the Eddy or GriGri can compare in terms of efficiency. We brought the tension up to 4kN without a multiplier and it was easy to release. If you plan on using it repetitively, you should buy a cord with an aramid/polyester sheath for increased mechanical grip and longevity. The only downside we could identify is the ‚creep‘. Every time you pull, you loose a tiny bit of tension before the Sla’Knot begins to hold. This holds true for all friction hitches, but could be mitigated with a shorter cord to a certain degree.

UPDATE!!

The Sla’Knot is more commonly known as the Valdotain Tresse. This braking mechanism can also be realised with other knots, including the Distel and the Schwabisch. A more complete review on the variations of these friction hitches will be uploaded in March.

Nevertheless, we strongly recommend every slackliner to try this hitch at least once. And when you do, don’t forget to tie it off!

IMG_6206 IMG_6210

Bertrand’s video on his Sla’Knot:

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