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Petzl Exo Tactical

Front View Rear View Side View
Front View Rear View Side View

Technical Details

I acquired my Petzl Exo Tactical from On Rope 1 in 2010.

The Petzl Exo Tactical is 117 mm. tall, 68 mm. wide, and 55 mm. thick, and weighs 225 g.

The EXO consists of a spring-loaded cam assembly mounted between a back plate and a swinging front plate. The two plates are stamped from 3.1 mm. aluminum alloy and then anodized. The plates are shaped roughly like a mirror-image "D." The two plates are loosely riveted together near the top, with a 16.5 mm. stamped stainless steel anvil that serves as spacer between the two. The front plate could rotate about 135° clockwise with respect to the rear plate and spacer, allowing one to open the EXO for rigging, but the carabiner supplied with the EXO permanently prevents this. The two plates have inward dog-leg bends near the bottom, where 14.4 mm. attachment holes are punched through the sloping portion of the dog-leg. The front plate has a slot for capturing the head of the cam axle, and an arch to the right of the slot to provide support. The upper left half of the front plate is bent forward to provide a 10.4 mm. diameter curved surface for the rope to run over. A 5.8 mm. U-shaped rod attached to the front plate provides a fixed rope guide. A plastic spine fills the right side of the device between the plates.

The cam is cast from stainless steel. The cam can rotate about 135° clockwise with respect to the rear plate, but a strong spring opposes this rotation. If the belayed climber falls, the cam rotates clockwise, and the top surface of the cam squeezes the rope against the anvil. A spring-loaded aluminum handle on the rear of cam gives the user more leverage to release the cam.

The front plate is printed with "CE0197," "EN341: 1993/D," "15 m - Max 136 kg," FOR SINGLE USE ONLY," and "EXO."

The spine is printed with the Petzl logo.

The rear plate is printed with "08333FR0676," an inventory code block, "USE ONLY APPROVED ROPE," and "SEE INSTRUCTIONS."


The EXO is basically a modified Grigri. Mine came in a kit that had 15 m. of 8 mm. rope prerigged. The upper end was sewn to a hook with a double action safety gate.

Labeling the device "FOR SINGLE USE ONLY" implies that it is only usable once. This alone is reason to avoid the EXO.

The carabiner is permanently attached to the Exo, making it unreasonable difficult to use the device more than once. Trying to back-thread the rope through the device is maddening. For my purposes, this "feature" earns it a Lemon Award .

I spent a lot of frustrating time trying to get a regular Petzl Exo. Petzl America and its US distributors refused to let me have one without me attending an expensive training course on the other side of the country. On Rope 1 tried to get one for me, but Laurel Smith, Regional Sales & Support Representative of Petzl America wrote the following (email dated September 3, 2008, quoting Michel Goulet, Manager - Work and Rescue Division):

"We can send an EXO descender (only) free of charge, but we need a letter addressed to Petzl America stating that the device will not be used, that it is intended for exhibit purpose only and when it will be returned to us."

I declined for the obvious reasons. Imagine my surprise when I was able to buy the tactical version without interference.