Photo Credits

Rappelling Out of a Storm

A climber rappels through fresh snowfall in the Dolomite range of Trentino, Italy.

Image © Roberto Caucino :

Aluminum Rappel Ring Recall

Recalled KONG descending rappel ringsThis recall is for unmarked aluminum rappel rings that were shipped by KONG and potentially other distributors. The rings have fractured and, in one case, failed under (reportedly) loads as low as body weight. This recall seems to have been handled informally with various notices released by different entities in 2009 and 2010. It has received relatively little attention–thanks to Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue for alerting OSI to this concern.

I (Alex Kosseff) personally own some very similar looking rings. These rings were purchased directly from a well-known climbing company (other than KONG) that sources their products in China. OSI will be looking into this situation. For now it is advisable not to use any unmarked rings and, as always, its a good practice never to rely on a single piece of equipment in an anchor.

KONG's response to this situation is disturbing. One ring failed and an injury occurred during a tree climbing competition. KONG’s defense is that “As anybody know (sic), unless specifically stated, standard equipment shall not be used in a competition . . .” Hopefully something was lost in the poor translation from Italian, at it is routine practice to use climbing equipment in climbing comps (read KONG’s release here).

It is disturbing to see life safety equipment being sold that is so poorly made, especially when it is being sold by well-known companies such as KONG. This instance and the counterfeit Petzl climbing gear detected earlier this year make it clear that end users must be vigilant. Please check any the rings at rappel stations you are using and replace any suspect ones if necessary (send us the suspect rings and OSI will send you strength rated replacements–please contact us before sending them in).

Illustration from SherrillTree

Recalled KONG descending rappel rings

There has been no recall of this product though official channels such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Four PDF’s from different sources provide additional information on this unusual recall:

KONG's odd statement on the aluminum rings

SherrilTree's notice
(distributor for rings)

U.S. Rigging notice
(distributor for rings)

Professional Ropes Course Association alert
(one of the few organizations to address this concern)

Thanks again to Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue for pointing out the recall to OSI. Visit their Special Operations Blog on Facebook.

Posted by

Alex Kosseff

on 10/28/11


Its not clear why Kong would be distributing an unmarked chinese produced rappel ring when they produce their own individual tested and laser etched ring, one that, on visual inspection appears to be of much higher quality (less obvious seam/casting marks).  All thats clear here is that despite having some higher quality Kong rings on hand and some unmarked rings on hand, that SherrillTree, which has otherwise sourced unmarked rings from China, chose to include the unmarked rings in a piece of sewn rigging that it produced.

I’ve been using Kong products for many years.  They all bear the Kong halmark, are made in Italy, and appear to be of the highest quality manufacture.  Kong is an innovator, and has developed many widely adopted technologies including the Key-lock carabiner mechanism and several rope access technologies.  It is not a low cost manufacturer and its products aren’t cheap.  It seems very unlikely to me that Kong was actually in the business of distributing untested chinese products and much more likely that they have made a generous settlement offer to someone who had made no use of their products simply to end all controversy.  Clearly they also need to hire someone who can communicate better in English to handle their correspondence and PR.

By Jared Danziger on 12/20/2011 at 12:01 PM

Speak Your Mind

Non-member comments moderated before posting. No spam or unrelated links please. Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.
Articles by Category
Free Resources

10 Steps to Better Risk Management - Free DownloadNew! 10 Steps to Better Risk Management - learn quick safety steps for your program. Download free guide. Go»

OSI Newsletter Icon - Signup for OSI's Free Email NewsletterThe Outdoor Safety Newsletter covers risk management for outdoor activities. Go»

Facebook Outdoor SafetyLike OSI on Facebook for current news & discussion on wilderness risk management. Go»

By OSI's Alex Kosseff AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership, 2nd Ed AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership
5 Star Rating
Learn More»

© Outdoor Safety Institute LLC • Terms of Use & Privacy PolicyContact Us