The Gear You’ll Need For Rope Descent Work

Have you ever considered what badass rope descent workers super heroes would be? Yeah, saving people from crazy villains is cool and all, but wouldn’t it be rad to see Spiderman painting the side of a building? But whatever, don’t take our advice Peter. Jokes on you because now we have the cool jobs.

If you’re like us and don’t have those weird spider hairs on your fingers, you’re going to need some gear for rope descent work. Much of this gear can be used for other at height work, but for this post, we are focusing on gear that takes you down a building, not up. Also for this post, we’re gonna make it easy on you. Of course, we have many options on our website,, but we’ll pick the three most popular pieces of gear for each main item of gear we recommend you have and pop those babies into the post. Also, this is not training. If you are watching this video or reading this post to learn how to do rope descent work, you are SOL (that’s shit outta luck) because this video won’t cover that. For real, get proper training. To begin, we’ll split the gear into two categories, your main line gear and your back up line gear. Your main line is the line you’ll be using to descend on. Again, this is not training, so if this is the first time hearing “main line” or “back up line”, just stop here. We’ll be here when you return from training, promise.

Main Line Rope Descent Gear

Full Body Harness

All right now that all the greenies are out of here, let’s talk (just kidding, we know you continued to read, you rebel). So, as you know, your main line is what you are going to use to descend on. First thing you’ll need for descent work a full body harness. This bad boy is going to keep you safe incase you have a main line failure. As is true with most professional at height work, you’re going to want a full body harness because that is what’s going to keep you in the harness if something were to happen, as well as relieve some of the impact your body might receive if a fail were to take place.


On to the next one, and that piece of gear will come in the form of a descender. There are tons on the market. Again, we are going to post the three most popular on this blog, but do some research. We know this stuff isn’t cheap, so you might as well get what you want (and also- newsletter plug- sign up for the email newsletter because you’ll never know what item will be discounted from bi-week to bi-week- plug over). The only thing you have to coordinate when you’re purchasing your descender is to make sure the descender is compatible with the rope that you are going to use.

Bosun’s Chair

Next up is your Bosun’s chair. It comes in a few options. You can get a 2-point chair, meaning it will connect to your descender using (you guessed it) 2-points. Your other option is a 4-point chair, connecting to your descender using 4-points. Upgrade yourself with a cushion if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on this bad boy, or don’t, its your chair, we aren’t sitting on it with you (although, note to self, make rope descent bench?). Rope access work, or in any manner going up the building as opposed to down, will be no fun in this chair, so we really only suggest it for rope descent work.

Backup Line Rope Descent Gear

Back Up Devices

Now onto the backup line gear. The name says it all, it is literally your back up incase your main line had something happen to it. You’ll need a rope grab. Just like your descender, you’re going to want to make sure this piece of gear is compatible with the rope that you are planning on using. Make sure to get a compatible lanyard and make sure that the device is compatible with your rope, but you already know that right?

Other Gear to Consider


Carabineers, not the key chain kind, the professional kind, are what’s going to connect you from one piece of gear to the other. These are the cheapest part of the whole kit, so don’t skimp. We suggest at least having two or three extra carabineers with you, meaning ones that are not being used in your rig. The worst thing that could happen is for you to begin your descent and realize you need a carabineer and you don’t have one (take it from us).


  • Gloves-You’ll probably want some gloves when you’re descending.
  • Rope Protectors-Rope protector will extend the life of your rope and keep you safe over those crazy building edges.
  • Rope-You’re not going to go anywhere without rope. The length of the rope you want to use is dependent upon the height of the job you’ll be using it for.
  • Helmet-A helmet is a wise purchase. It is not only wise, it is totally necessary. Things can happen while your working at height, so don’t take that chance, get a helmet.
  • Anchor-The last thing to consider is an anchor solution, like a tie-off pad. That’s an all-purpose anchor that is a great back up.

Once you have this equipment, you’ll be all set to go with your rope descent work. Also, if you have a Spiderman costume on while you do this work, please take a picture and send it to us. Remember to get training before getting involved with any at height work. Be safe on the ropes!
Amy LavinThe Gear You’ll Need For Rope Descent Work
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