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Kong Futura

Small Grip Large Grip
Small Grip Large Grip

Overview


Small Grip
(#299)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my first Kong Hand Futura ascenders from On Rope 1 in 2009.

The Kong Hand Futura is 139 mm. tall, 85 mm. wide, and 24 mm. thick. The Kong Hand Futura comes with two hand grips. Mine weighs 130 g. with the small grip installed.

The shell is made from extruded and milled aluminum alloy. A 14 mm.rope channel is formed in the upper portion of one side and a smaller cam channel lies on the other. A hole drilled through both sides of the cam channel accepts a 6 mm. semi-tubular rivet. The cam and cam spring are mounted on this rivet. The head of the rivet is on the front of the shell, and the roll sits in a depression in the rear. The pivot is centered 30 mm. from the inside of the rope groove.

The Kong Hand Futura has an unconventional soft plastic hand grip attached to the opposite side of the ascender as the cam. In use, one's hand circles the rope as well as the ascender. The hand grip has a three cusps for the middle, ring, and little fingers; the index finger rests on the top of the hand grip. The smaller grip provides 55 mm. clearance for the three fingers. A 4 mm. hex socket cap screw holds the grip in place. A 14 mm. sling attachment hole lies below the hand grip.

The cam is an oxide-finished skeletonized steel casting. The cam radius, measured from the pivot, increases from 19 to 31 mm. over an angle of 42°, giving a 32° cam angle. The cam has number of small conical teeth, all of which have their axes approximately parallel to the lower surface of the cam. The tooth pattern is (4)(5.2H2)^2(4.2). The H stands for small oval holes. A spring-loaded manual safety is mounted mounted on an axle riveted to the bottom center of the cam. The normal action of the spring holds the safety against the cam. The safety has a small tab bent outward for the fingers. When the cam is opened, the shell interferes with the safety, thus preventing cam opening. At full open the safety can be released and the spring will hold the tab against the back of the shell, locking the cam open. A small cam stop is riveted about 1 mm. above the cam.

The front of the frame is printed with the Kong logo, "HANDsx FUTURA" ("…dx…" on the right-hand ascender), and "mod. PAT." The rear is printed with a rigging icon, a segmented up-pointing arrow, two people with an X on their chest and a big X crossing them out, "085646 09 0071" ("084932 08 0011" on the right-hand ascender), another person with an X on their chest, "100kg," the U.I.A.A. logo, "CE0426," a book-with-an-"i" icon, "EN 567:97-," a coil of rope icon, "¤/¡Ø 8÷12.7 mm" (where ¤ represents a circle with a dot inside), "EN 12841/B:06-," another coil of rope icon, another ¤ circle with a dot inside, and "Ø 8÷12.7 mm."

Warning:
The weight ("100kg") screened on the Handle can easily be
less than the weight of a fully loaded caver.

Comments

The Kong Hand Futura is essentially what anyone would think of after reading Bob Thrun's comments on the Jumar in his 1971 book Prusiking, but it took nearly four decades for anyone to fully address the issue.

The Hand Futura goes to great lengths to reduce bulk. The cam is smaller than the ones found on most handled ascenders, and this carries a price: the cam is quite hard to operate with one hand, and the cam does not open open far enough to allow easy down-climbing.

Some people mentioned that when climbing against a wall, the hand Futura exposes their knuckles to rock abrasion. Others say that they don't like the rope rubbing against their hand. What I miss most is a tab above the cam that would allow me to pull the ascender upwards from the top instead of pushing it from below. Ascenders usually track better when pulled, and pulling is the natural motion for any ascender rigged below chest level.

The weight ("100kg") screened on the rear of each ascender can easily be less than the weight of a fully loaded caver, so I cannot recommend this ascender for heavier cavers or for expedition caving.

Kong also makes a Body Futura and a Foot Futura ascender.

Large Grip
(#1552, 2103)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my second pair of Kong Hand Futura ascenders from On Rope 1 in 2011. I acquired another pair in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The Kong Hand Futura is 139 mm. tall, 85 mm. wide, and 24 mm. thick. Mine weighs 130 g. with the small grip installed.

The Hand Futura comes with the larger grip installed. This grip has 60 mm. clearance for the three fingers.

Comments

In the description, I referred to the "large" and "small" hand grips, but I think that "small" and "tiny" would be better terms. I have large hands (XL or XXL glove size), and the larger of the two hand grips only has room for three fingers up to the second knuckle. The smaller grip only allows three finger tips. These pictures show the size difference between the two sets of grips:

 
2 Grips 2 Grips