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Our top pick? The Climbing Hand Ascender by Paliston

Climbers use ascenders, which are devices that attach to a climbing rope, enabling them to - well - ascend. Ascenders are available in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and they serve a range of related - but differing - purposes. Some ascenders are designed for climbing large walls, while others are used for caving, climbing icy ropes in mountainous areas, and rescue missions. A toothed cam on all ascenders clamps onto the rope when the ascender is weighted, offering a firm point for a climber to travel higher on the rope.

The most common style of ascender is designed to be handled manually in the hand and is generally used to climb a rope above the climber, a procedure known as jugging. Hand ascenders are usually used in pairs (left and right handed types are available) and have a bottom hole with a ladder or foot loop. This foot loop allows the climber to alternate weighing down or resting on one ascender while moving the other up the rope and weighting it, allowing them to progressively advance upward.

Selecting the perfect climbing ascender can become tough because of the many options provided by various well-known climbing brands such as EPIC PEAK, NewDoar, Paliston, SZCQ, and Petzl. We have searched through the numerous options on the market to find the best of the best and collate all that information into this excellent guide for you to have a read through. When you take it down to the basics there isn’t much that can separate one ascender from another, but some of the key features we looked at were the size of the rope that the ascender can take, the size of the actual ascender, the grip of the ascender and the ergonomics of the handle, amongst other things.

If you want to ascend to the top of the climbing game then take a read through our top picks, and we will guide you in the quest to find the best ascender for your needs. Enjoy!

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Climbing Hand Ascender by Paliston, The best overall ascender climbing device

#1 — Climbing Hand Ascender by Paliston

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

The best overall ascender climbing device

What makes it special? Paliston's hand ascender is meticulously built for climbing a rope, making it ideal for rock climbing, tree climbing, arborist work, and other ascension activities. The ergonomic design provides a big and pleasant grip and can be fitted with one hand. It also provides good grip on ropes ranging from 8 to 12 mm in diameter. When weighted, the climbing ascender goes easily up the rope, but the cam secures the rope. The rope cam may also be used to handle ropes that are filthy, muddy, or frozen. When you've reached your desired height or are about to descend, the ascender is simple to stow. Guaranteed for two years. Paliston attempts to provide high-quality hand ascenders at a fair price. This ascender can be used for extended climbs due to the ergonomic design of the handle. It is made of a lightweight but strong hot forged aluminium alloy. Because of the spring on the cam, the Paliston hand ascender may be simply locked open or closed with one thumb. Attachment points for connection with other equipment are provided via many holes. Coming in a pack of 2 for your left and right hand, or singularly depending on your preference, we can’t look past the quality, and value for money that this ascender by Paliston provides, ascending itself to the top of our list.

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Climbing Hand Ascender by kissloves, B07MCJ5R2Y

#2 — Climbing Hand Ascender by kissloves

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Most comfortable hand ascender.

What makes it special? This hand ascender sold by kissloves has a broad, over moulded ergonomic handle for that comfortable and forceful grip for rope ascents. The aluminium alloy frame is lightweight but strong, with a large rope channel for enhanced traverse performance. The ergonomic thermo-moulded handle is comfortable to use and provides good insulation when wet. It improves your climbing easily by providing a broad handle to grab and allowing the gadget to secure a grip on the rope instead of requiring you to grip the rope with your hand. This minimises the amount of strength required to grasp the rope, allowing you to climb with more endurance. The climbing ascender is designed in an ideal shape and size, making it simple to store once you've reached your target height or are preparing to descend. Multiple holes allow numerous connections for integrating with other gear. The Hand Ascender is ideal for big wall or mountaineering climbing, tree climbing, Single Rope Technique Climbing, and tensioning, rigging, hauling, and pulley systems.

Coming in at a similar price point to the hand ascender by Paliston, one of the drawbacks (or potentially benefits) of this ascender is the ergonomic handle, while although if your hand shape fits the moulded shape, then this is an extremely nice item to use, for the climbers with different hand shapes and sizes, the parts of the handle that stick out can become a nuisance. Nevertheless, this excellent ascender still deserves its place on our list.

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Hand Ascender for Rock Climbing by NewDoar, Excellent budget hand ascender

#3 — Hand Ascender for Rock Climbing by NewDoar

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Excellent budget hand ascender

What makes it special? The hand ascender from NewDoar has an excellent set of specifications that rival many of the top brands available. With CE 1019-435 EN 567:2013 certification, it guarantees its safety. You can rely on this hand ascender. Weight limit: 140 kg/ 308 lbs, breaking strength: 8.5 kilonewtons, for an 8-12MM rope, the tension is 4KN. The aluminium alloy frame is light but strong and durable, weighing only 0.52 pounds (237g). Your hand is protected by a comfortable rubber handle that provides friction. Made of stainless steel, this cam is rustproof and anticorrosive, making it perfect for tackling a wide range of situations and provide long-term service. The holes are used to link carabiners and webbings, with 2 hole attachments on both the top and lower sides of the ascender to allow the operator to get the most out of it. The safety catch has a spring within and may be simply operated with the thumb. It ensures that rope can be installed and removed fast and easily. All in all this hand ascender by NewDoar is an excellent option for any climber, particularly at its great value price point!

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Ascension Gold Ascender Yellow Right by PETZL, The best hand ascender

#4 — Ascension Gold Ascender Yellow Right by PETZL

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

The best hand ascender

What makes it special? The ASCENSION is a hand-held ascender made by the ever reliable PETZL for rope ascents featuring an over-moulded grip and an ergonomic top section for a comfortable and forceful grasp whether pulling with one or two hands. The lower hole on the ASCENSION handled ascender is large enough to easily attach two carabiners for a lanyard and foot loop. It's made for climbing ropes. The over-moulded, dual-density grips provide an index finger region and a wide, supporting base to prevent slippage. When ascending a rope, its design enables a comfortable and firm grasp, enhancing efficiency, and accepts rope from 8mm - 13mm. Upper section is ergonomically created to boost power while pulling with two hands. With the safety catch, the handled rope clamp may be fitted or withdrawn with one hand anywhere on the rope. It's simple to manipulate, even with gloves on.

PETZL have always been a leader in the climbing gear industry, and there is a reason why, we love how easy to use this ascender is, along with its efficiency and light weighted nature. With all of this in mind, despite the high price point of this device, we have selected it as one of the best ascenders on the market, claiming its spot in our top picks.

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Ascender Set for Rock Climbing (Hand and Foot) by NewDoar, The best rope ascender set

#5 — Ascender Set for Rock Climbing (Hand and Foot) by NewDoar

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

The best rope ascender set

What makes it special? This ascender set contains the previously chosen NewDoar hand ascender along with a foot ascender, and foot ascender loop to create the perfect ascension pack, all rolled into one. If you want a more in depth look at the hand ascender then read up a little bit to the relevant pick, however there is still more to tell here about the foot ascender that comes along with it. The foot ascender is suitable for rope diameter of 8-13mm, and a maximum load of 150 kg (330 lb). It features Adjustable Webbing For The Perfect Placement On Any Shoes, and when used in combination with an ascender handler, an ascender for the right foot makes climbing a rope easier and faster. The adjustable foot ascender loop is composed of a high-strength polyester material that weighs 224 g and has a break strength of 22 kg (CE Certification).  Fast fully adjustable stainless steel buckle, ultra-light and compact gadget, greatly lightens your rack of gears. Overall if you are looking for all the gear to get into ascension then this is the pick for you!

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Rock Climbing Ascender Ultralight Fall Arrest Protection Belay Device by Lixada, Great value for money ascender device

#6 — Rock Climbing Ascender Ultralight Fall Arrest Protection Belay Device by Lixada

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Great value for money ascender device

What makes it special? The LIXADA rock climbing ascender is built of forged aviation aluminium, which has a high strength, is light in weight, and is easy to carry. It also has a very high level of testing and certification security. The maximum bearing capacity is 220 pounds. The rope can be automatically stuck by the barrier sheets. When the human body's weightlessness tilts, it has the effect of gripping a rope and stopping you from falling. The rope grip's connection hole is bi-directional and connects to the lock to keep you safe. Working with rope with a diameter of 8-13mm, having dimensions of approx 7.8*7.5cm / 3.0 *2.9in (L x W), is 90g in weight, and the maximum weight is 100kg (220lb). This piece of rock climbing equipment is both reliable and effective at preventing falls, for a variety of different use cases including, Downhill protection, caving, uphill climbing expand protection, rock climbing, exploration, rescue, engineering protection, aerial work, and more.

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Light Alloy Climbing Hand Ascender by SZCQ, Terrific hand ascender tree climbing

#7 — Light Alloy Climbing Hand Ascender by SZCQ

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Terrific hand ascender tree climbing

What makes it special? Upgraded Hand-Held Ascender (Black for right hand, Orange for left), Both UIAA and CE certified, this system is commonly used for tree climbing, SRT climbing, and tensioning, rigging, hauling, and pulley systems. No more slipping with this solid rubber ergonomic handled ascender safety catch! The safety catch is composed of solid rubber rather than metal, allowing any operator to handle the cam system with their thumb. Even with heavy gloves, increased friction allows for solid control. As we all know, you get the most efficient use of force with the perfect grip, the ergonomic thermo-molded rubber handle and large interior space give exceptional comfort based on your grip habit, preventing fatigue even while climbing single rope for lengthy periods of time. Stainless Steel Cam with a lot of punch! The stainless steel function cam provides a tight grip even in cold or rainy conditions. Cam can handle most situations and provide long-term service because of the material's excellent properties. This climbing ascender is made of a high-strength, anti-rust, robust, and 4KN-resistant aviation aluminium magnesium alloy.

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Right Hand Ascender with Ergonomic Rubber Handle and Steel Cam by EPIC PEAK, High quality hand ascender

#8 — Right Hand Ascender with Ergonomic Rubber Handle and Steel Cam by EPIC PEAK

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

High quality hand ascender

What makes it special? This climbing equipment comes from a well-known American company. The ascender complies with international safety requirements and has received the following certifications: CE 1019-435 EN 567:2013 and UIAA 2019. When weighted, it features a cam that grabs the sheath securely while moving smoothly up the rope. You can rely on the broad, sharp teeth to grip the rope securely, the grip is excellent, and the handle protects your hand from friction. The rubber substance keeps your hands from slipping and protects them from uncomfortable cuts and scrapes. This ascender includes several webbing or carabiner holes on both the top and lower sides, allowing for two attachments. It's ideal for attaching to a gear system! This climbing tool is the perfect size and form for convenience, and an easy choice for us to include it in our top picks.

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