I've had a Top Climber for 4 years. Have used it extensively, once 7 times to the masthead in a day changing the headstay/furler. Climbing is easy but not effortless. I'm 67 and haven't had an issue getting to the top though the 7 trips in one day was a workout. Occasionally, I've broken out the Top Climber and gone to the mast head
for the fun of it. Kind of a zen experience hanging up there. FWIW, the Top Climber saved my mast. When I got the Top Climber, went to the mast head
just to get experience using it. Decided to check the shrouds and stays while I was up there and found broken strands on the headstay. Don't know how long before the rest of the strands gave up the ghost but it looked really ugly.
As others have said, you need to get the rope
that you use for climbing with the TopClimber tight. I switched out my StaSet X main halyard
for a dyneema
and the low stretch line was significantly easier and more efficient to use. A rope with a lot of stretch wastes effort in overcoming the stretch in the rope.
The new Mast Climber has ascender hardware
that can be clamped on the line anywhere via removable pin. The Top Climber that I have has to be threaded onto the climbing rope from the end. An inconvenience but not enough of a one for me to spend the $80 or so Etienne wants for the new climbing hardware
to upgrade the old Top Climber. The Top Climber is claimed to need 1/2" halyard to work. I've been using it with 3/8" without a problem. Believe the newer hardware is supposed to work with 3/8"-1/2" line.
The bosun chair/climbing harness of the Top Climber is a great piece of kit. It's secure without being restrictive and comfortable for long periods up the mast. I've done things like install lazy jacks that required drillng and tapping multiple holes for mounting blocks. Was up the mast for several hours without discomfort.
I use a separate rope with a Prussic knot
for backup though I doubt that I'll ever need it. The climbers don't seem to bother the dacron cover on the halyard, have never slipped or caused any sort of problem.