The PETZL Tactical EXO system started off as an emergency firefighter escape system built for the NYFD following a tragic accident in 2005. Since then, the system has been adopted by many other firefighting departments and has recorded numerous saves in the field. Even though it was initially designed specifically by PETZL for fire fighters, it quickly became apparent that it could also be used for tactical rope operations for both SWAT and military personnel.

PETZL Tactical EXO front
PETZL Tactical EXO front 2
PETZL Tactical EXO back

Since its release, the EXO escape system has evolved and while the system functions the same, the tactical version utilizes the PETZL EASHOOK carabiner as its anchor hardware, similar to the one discussed in the HELO ADJUST personal retention device review. The fire fighter version utilizes a hook and can be utilized in several different manners. However the EASHOOK offers the security of a self-locking carabiner more suitable to SWAT and military rope operations.

PETZL Tactical EXO System

The Tactical EXO is an individual system designed for quick and easy use by the wearer. The entire system can be attached to the users equipment via the pouch that houses the system until it is needed. The system is comprised of the NOMEX carrying pouch, the EASHOOK anchor carabiner, a self-braking descent device, 50 feet of 7.5mm static rope that is resistant to abrasion and high temperatures and a locking carabiner that attaches to the user.

PETZL Tactical EXO System descender
PETZL Tactical EXO System carabiner
PETZL Tactical EXO System descender 1
PETZL Tactical EXO System descender 2

The user can quickly attach the EASHOOK to a suitable anchor and then attach the locking carabiner to his harness. From there, the user can pay out the rope, which feeds from the carrying pouch, by using the descent device. For those familiar with PETZl’s rock climbing equipment, this device looks and functions similar to the GRI GRI but with a few small differences. The user can quickly move horizontally from the anchor point to the edge by engaging the lever one handed as the rope pays out of the carrying pouch. Once the user releases the lever, the device automatically locks up. Capable of being operated entirely one handed, the descent device also allows for hands free use. As soon as the user releases the descent device, it locks up securely automatically. It does not require the user to lock it off manually and does not slip like most traditional figure 8 and similar descent devices. This allows the user to use both of his hands when needed for task such as weapons manipulation, placing breaching charges or any other activity that requires both of the users hands.

PETZL Tactical EXO System rope bag 1
PETZL Tactical EXO System rope bag 2




The training manual as well as specifications and nomenclature can be found here:


  • EASHOOK anchor carabiner is easy to manipulate

  • Self-braking system for:

    • giving slack quickly

    • controlling and stopping a descent

    • limiting the force transmitted to the user in case of a fall

  • Aramid fiber static rope, 15 m length and 7.5 mm diameter, resists abrasion and high temperatures

  • Open directional point for:

    • guiding the rope during a descent

    • freeing the rope to facilitate short rope ascents (by adding a TIBLOC rope clamp and a FOOTAPE foot loop)

  • Fire-resistant carry bag for attaching the system directly to the harness

  • Am’D connector with CAPTIV positioning bar, to help keep the connector correctly positioned and integrated with the device

  • Different rope lengths available by special order

  • Working load limit: 140 kg

  • Material(s): aramid, aluminum alloy, stainless steel, nylon

  • Weight: 1220 g

  • Certification(s): EN 341 type D

PETZL Tactical EXO System full front


Another useful feature of the system is that it can also be used for ascent by the user if the need arises. While this requires the user to employ additional equipment and techniques, it is far easier than previous methods used to ascend on a rope. The system can be reused afterwards, although PETZL recommends it be replaced if used in an emergency and considers it a single use item. PETZL also offers other rope lengths by special order if the standard 50 feet does not meet your requirements.



The PETZL Tactical EXO system offers those conducting tactical rope operations a quick and easy capability that can be employed virtually anywhere one can find an anchor point. This is obviously a niche piece of equipment and as such PETZL also recommends that users take a class from PETZL on its use for safety reasons. While it is simple in its operation, it is also possible to use it incorrectly, which could have catastrophic results.  Because of this restriction and as requested by PETZL, I did not use the system for a live vertical descent. I did however employ it on the ground in as near as possible as I could get to test the functionality of it. I can say that it is easy to set up and deploy in several different manners and the descent device works easily in one hand with gloves. The one difficult part is post use, once all the rope has been deployed from the carry pouch. Reinserting the rope back in the relatively small pouch neatly and by the user manuals instruction can be a bit time consuming to get it to all fit back neatly. It’s not an impossible task by any means, but it takes a bit of practice. Overall, I found this to be a great piece of equipment for both self-rescue and tactical rope operations. Anyone who has a requirement for this kind of equipment should take a look at the PETZL Tactical EXO System by contacting PETZL and or one of their authorized distributors as it is a Military/LEO restricted/controlled item.


Cost: 3
Comfort: 5
Durability: 4
Functionality: 5
Weight: 3
Overall Rating: 4/5

The scale is defined as:

(1): Poor/unacceptable. Worse than expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.

(2): Fair. In conformity with reasonable expectations, but in comparison to competitors is may be deficient

(3): Average. Common item; item neither lacks from or is superior than a competitors item.

(4): Good. The item is desirable and has qualities that excel in comparison to a competitors item

(5): Excellent. Outstanding, possesses superior quality; remarkably good


Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Scott Wolf

Scott Wolf is a 20 year US Army Special Forces and Special Mission Unit combat veteran. Scott continues to serve and support the US Government in other endeavors around the globe when he isn't teaching responsible gun owners,LEOs and Executive Protection Agents how to shoot, move and communicate. Scott is also the co-author of "These Dead Lands: IMMOLATION"

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