BSAR NSW Research

Welcome to the BSAR NSW research page. BSAR NSW is a group of dedicated and experienced outdoor enthusiasts, and so take an interest in the equipment and techniques used in outdoor recreation and rescue. Some of our members have performed research into various aspects of outdoor recreation and rescue. A summary of research undertaken is shown below.

What weight can I “hold” with that Lowering Device


A subjective test of lowering devices to what “load” they can safely control.  To ensure that the devices used in rescue are capable of holding a rescue load.

Report by Dug Floyd


How Efficient are Pulleys and Related Devices used by BSAR in Vertical Rescue?

Comparing the measured practical efficiency of pulleys used by the VRA.  How much extra “heave” do you need to put in to lift that load? Is it practical to use the Petzl ID for progressive capture,  belay, lowering and inline pulley system (the answer is yes, just).  The CMC Multipurpose Device is much more practical for this combined role.

Report by Dug Floyd

Review of Handheld GPS Units

Published in “Choice Magazine” Dec 2007/Jan 2008 issue

Rob Barrie, Kevin Dawson and Joe Sydney (Joe is with NSW Cave Rescue Squad) assisted Choice Magazine in a review of hand held GPS units. The review looked at 10 GPS units and assessed their ease of use, battery life, accuracy, signal acquisition and waterproofing. The report is available on the Choice Magazine website. If you do not have a Choice Magazine web access account you will have to pay to view the article.

Choice have also given permission for us to put the full article on our website, so you can view it without payment. You can view it here – Re-printed with kind permission from Choice Magazine –

Forces Generated During a Simple Ascent

Glenn Horrocks May 2007

A set of three load cells has been manufactured for use in measuring loads in vertical rescue systems. As a preliminary use of these cells the loads generated by a person ascending a rope using a “smooth” and “rough” technique was measured. The report (which is mercifully short at only 3 pages, with half of that being pictures!) can be viewed HERE.

Preferred Knots for Use in Canyons

David Drohan September 2001

Recreational canyoning groups are questioning the traditional knots to join rope or tape. It has been argued that the more traditional Double Fisherman’s Knot is very tight to undo after use and often catches on obstacles during rope pull down. The Tape Knot can be difficult to adjust and now some groups have started using unconventional knots such as the Overhand Knot for joining rope or tape.

On behalf of the BSAR NSW vertical rescue group (The Rock Squad), I (with some help from squad members) have conducted a series of tests in a voluntary capacity to determine the preferred knots that could be used in recreational canyoning. Tests have been conducted on the tensile strength and slippage of various knots. Cyclic loading and rope pull down issues have also been investigated. The knots tested were the Tape, Double Fisherman’s, Overhand for rope and tape, Rethreaded Figure 8, Abnormal Figure 8 and Alpine Butterfly (used to tie 2 ropes together). 139 hours of actual testing has been undertaken which does not include the considerable time to plan, analyse and write up the report. A paper on this work was presented at the Outdoor Recreational Industry Council NSW conference in September 2001. I am hoping to continue research on the topic in the future.

An information sheet about BSAR NSW and this research is available HERE.

The abstract of the research presented at the September 2001 ORIC conference is available HERE.

The complete paper is now available for downloading.

  1. Main Paper: PDF
  2. Annex A 1-2: XLS – PDF
  3. Annex B 1-2: XLS – PDF
  4. Annex A-B 3-7: PDF
  5. Annex B 8: PDF
  6. Annex B 9: PDF
  7. Annex D 1-11: PDF
  8. Annex E 1-8: PDF