Cowstail Lengths

dougle89

Member
Got some rope cowstails from Inglesport and was just retying them onto my crabs then got to thinking is there a best practice for the length of the two legs? Appreciate it's not a one size fits all job
 

Rachel

Active member
For the long cowstail, make sure you can reach the krab when your weight is on it. The length of the shorter one is more personal preference.
 

Babyhagrid

Well-known member
Depends whether your going to be doing lots of hanging rebelays where a short short can help. Or whether you will be doing lots of awkward traverses where a longer short could help.
As long as they are different lengths!!
 

JoshW

Well-known member
I generally work on long crab to top of head. Short crab sits in palm when my elbow is dug into my side and palm facing upwards.
 

Huge

Well-known member
You might find >this< useful, especially from about 6 minutes in.
I've seen this video before and my response is - why? Why should the length of your short cowstail depend on the length of your upper body and why should your long cowstail depend on your arm being bent at 90 degrees? Obviously the taller you are, the longer your cowstails will be but there's no explanation as to why these lengths are required.

Surely the length of the short cowstail does not depend on the individual but on the length we tie rebelay loops. The general advice, as far as I am aware, has always been to tie rebelays with a roughly half metre/50cm loop length. Therefore, to unweight your descender, your short cowstail needs to be shorter than this. I know it's going back a bit but in his classic book SRT, Dave Elliot recommends the short cowstail to be 40-45cm, including the crab. I still use this length and it works well. I don't have trouble with many rebelays and only very occasionally find it a bit short to reach something I want to clip into.

As for the long cowstail, most people tie it nice and long to give plenty of flexibility to move when it's clipped in but not so long that if you fall, you can't reach whatever you're clipped into, to pull yourself back up. I wonder if there's a maximum length we should go to though, particularly for taller people. If you do fall, the longer the cowstail is means you'll fall for a longer time, before being stopped by the cowstail. This means that you will be accelerating for longer and will therefore achieve a greater speed and higher loads when you do come to a stop. At what point does this become dangerous?
 

Pony

Active member
I've got mine set with long so the krab hooks over my nose and short so krab is just under my chin.
 

Greybeard

Member
I've got mine set with long so the krab hooks over my nose and short so krab is just under my chin.
I use a very short short cowstail with a quickdraw attached. This gives me 3 cowstail lengths to play with, from hanging rebelays to traverse lines and I always have a spare krab handy.
 

andrewmcleod

Well-known member
I think the most important thing is that the short and long cowstails are different - I reckon they need to be at least 10cm different. Bear in mind that your short cowstail knot ends up tighter than your long cowstail knot usually, so it will creep longer more and reduce the effective distance between them. You want to tie both shorter than you think you need by a surprising amount because they will creep 5-10cm(??) longer. [someone will no doubt come along to say you should be tying and retying your cowstails after every trip...]

Beyond that you can usually get away with a fair range of cowstail lengths (my current short cowstail is far too long but I am too lazy to retie it - it puts the top of the carabiner somewhere between my chin and nose I think, but it still just about suits me :p )

Most of the problems are when passing a rebelay on the way down. Now usually you can clip your short cowstail high (but not _too_ high*) and your long cowstail lower (but not _too_ low*) which means you have plenty of spare to test your descender. But sometimes you have, for example, a large free-hanging Y-hang at the end of horizontal where clipping into a bolt of the Y-hang is not practical/safe. In this case, you basically need to be able to pass a rebelay with both cowstails clipped into the knot (which is how I pass rebelays 90% of the time anyway but I am weird :LOL:). In this case, the only distance you get to test is the gap between your two cowstails. Similar things will happen on knot passes I think.

PS Determining what is 'too high' (preventing you from getting on the down rope at all) or 'too low' (not adequately protecting you from a fall and/or excessive shock load depending on distance below you to obstacles and length of shock-absorbing rope above or equivalent) is left as an exercise to the reader...
 

Cantclimbtom

Well-known member
For the long cowstail, make sure you can reach the krab when your weight is on it. The length of the shorter one is more personal preference.
I was taught to have it a little bit shorter, the idea is that if you hang on the ascender you can still reach the release (this does of course assume you use a cow's tail for the ascender).

Edit you can have a Petzl Connect Adjust as a second noticeably longer long-cow's tail, although noting doesn't adjust if caked in muck
 

Huge

Well-known member
These are my current cowstails. Short - 40cm. Long - 74cm. 34cm difference. I do feel that the tails on the knots may be a little short.
 

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Mark Wright

Active member
These are my current cowstails. Short - 40cm. Long - 74cm. 34cm difference. I do feel that the tails on the knots may be a little short.
They (whoever they are) reckon a good fist size of tail should be coming out of the knots. Mine are less than half this length and have served me well for over 40 years
 

Fjell

Well-known member
They (whoever they are) reckon a good fist size of tail should be coming out of the knots. Mine are less than half this length and have served me well for over 40 years
Especially if you bounce up and down on them before using them to make sure they will never come undone.
 

mikem

Well-known member
If you prefer a medium length short cowstail, it can always be halved by clipping it back into your harness & putting another krab in the middle, for times when you need it SHORT
 
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