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The best belay device reviews

The Best Belay Device Reviews

Belay devices are a huge element in almost all types of climbing. They will be one of the most heavily used items on your belt, so getting the right one for your style and requirements is absolutely essential.

Choosing a Belay Device for Rock Climbing2

We have taken Three belay devices from the categories below and will review them and pick out our favourites based on the features in our buyer’s guide to belay devices.

 

 

Manual Belay Devices

These are the best belay devices for the beginners or those on a budget. These belays stand out as being the simplest and therefore the cheapest belay devices. There isn’t much difference between the different manufacturers/models, but we have tried to choose one that stands out as being the best of the bunch.

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TitleMetolius BRD - Belay Rappel DeviceBlack Diamond ATC-XP Belay Device - Dark DenimWild Country VC Pro 2 Belay Device Orange
FeatureFor belaying and rappelling with 7.7-11 millimeter ropes
High friction mode offers 3 times greater hold and stopping power
Geometric, fluid design reduces rope kinking
Weight 3.1oz (89g)
Lighter design & full featured belay device at a great price from Wild Country
V-grooves for greater friction on skinny ropes
Reversible for lower friction on fatter ropes
Fully Anodized
ManufacturerMetoliusBlack DiamondWild Country
Price$19.95$14.97$17.90
Rating4.0 out of 5 stars5.0 out of 5 stars5.0 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Product prices and availability are accurate as of Aug 8 10:42:58 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Image
TitleMetolius BRD - Belay Rappel DeviceBlack Diamond ATC-XP Belay Device - Dark DenimWild Country VC Pro 2 Belay Device Orange
FeatureFor belaying and rappelling with 7.7-11 millimeter ropes
High friction mode offers 3 times greater hold and stopping power
Geometric, fluid design reduces rope kinking
Weight 3.1oz (89g)
Lighter design & full featured belay device at a great price from Wild Country
V-grooves for greater friction on skinny ropes
Reversible for lower friction on fatter ropes
Fully Anodized
ManufacturerMetoliusBlack DiamondWild Country
Price$19.95$14.97$17.90
Rating4.0 out of 5 stars5.0 out of 5 stars5.0 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Product prices and availability are accurate as of Aug 8 10:42:58 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Metolius BRD – ($20-27) –  – Read Reviews

Metolius BRD

Metolius BRD

Pros:

This belay device is one of the most durable and sturdy manual belay devices on the market, this device will literally last you for years.

The unique shape of this device stands out as having one of the best friction systems for a manual device. This means that you won’t struggle to lock the rope off easily on the rappel or if the climber falls. The thumb bar allows for micro adjustments to the friction although you may not need to use it so much and may find it annoying.

Cons:

Unfortunately, the unique friction system on this belay means that the device often locks up when you need to pay out a lot of rope fast to a leader. This can be minimized by adjusting your belay technique, but we found that other belay devices handled this better.

Other dislikes were the bulkiness and weight of the device. The thumb bar does not provide enough use, it tends to get in the way when trying to do quick movements and also adds unnecessary weight.

Bottom Line:

Overall, we like this device as we found it so much more durable than other devices that started showing signs of wear after heavy use.

This device is bulky, heavy and at the price of $20-27 it is possible devices that perform better for leading at a lower price. If you wanted a good sturdy belay for heavy rappelling with the possibility of using two ropes, then go for this device, otherwise choose the Black Diamond ATC XP

User Reviews:

“This is a good belay device. I got mine about a month ago at a nice sale price. Beware that it gets a bit of getting used to. At first, the amount of friction is too much and it can be annoying.” – Read Reviews

 

Black Diamond ATC XP – ($20-30) –  – Read Reviews

Black diamond ATC XP

Black diamond ATC XP

Pros:

The Black Diamond ATC XP stands out as being the best manual device for lead climbing.  The ATC XP controls friction much easier than the ATC standard and still offers an unmatched smooth action for paying out line especially on thinner ropes.

Cons:

The only downside to this device is the durability. The added teeth on this newer XP model do tend to wear out after a lot of hard use. This obviously doesn’t affect the safety of the device but it can be a little annoying as you may lose a little ‘bite’ in the friction.

Bottom Line:

This is an excellent all-round belay device and is perfect for beginners and professionals alike.

This device works really smooth when paying out line for a leader, falls and lowering climbers.

The price is a little at the high end and you may want to go for something cheaper such as the Wild Country VC Pro 2.

User Review:

“I like this device because it can be both a regular ATC and it has the teeth for the cases where you need it. It should also last longer than a typical ATC since the metal isn’t as thinned out at the top.” – Read Reviews

 Verdict – ClimbingThings.com Favorite Manual Belay Device!

Wild Country VC Pro 2 – ($15 – $20) –  – Read Reviews

Wild country VC Pro 2

Wild country VC Pro 2

Pros:

The VC Pro 2 packs in a lot of features for a low-price. This is the best value belay device on the market. For those who are just starting out, this is the perfect belay device to get as you will get a whole lot of versatility and this device will step up to job just as well as any other device on the market.

Cons:

The only problem is that VC Pro 2 is not the smoothest device and if you want something that will excel at leading as opposed to being an all-rounder then go for the ATC XP.

Also, the durability can start to show after a while and like most belay devices with friction teeth, you may start to see wear and tear after a lot of hard use.

Bottom Line:

Every climber should have at least one of these devices on their belt purely because of the value, even if you only want to have it as a backup!

For advanced climbers, you may want to spend a little more and get something more specialised, but there’s not a lot of difference.

User Reviews:

“Works great holds you with no problem. Lets you slide and stop with no problem works perfect. would recommend to friends.” – Read Reviews

 

Self Locking Belay Devices

If you are an experienced climber and want a belay device that will save your energy and you don’t mind paying a bit more, then self locking belay devices are for you. These devices take all the weight of your brake hand and will automatically lock up if the climber falls. They usually have a lever system to release the rope and lower the climber, etc.

Price is usually affected by the quality, weight and the smoothness of the device.

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TitlePetzl GriGri Belay Device 2.01 With FREE Climbing DVD (Gray)Trango Cinch (Red)Mammut Smart Belay Device (Black-Red, One Size)
FeatureFree Climbing DVD Included
Works on ropes from 8.8-11mm
25% smaller and 20% lighter than previous model
Durable stainless steel cam and friction plates stand up to years of use
2.01 non-recall product
The Cinch is the latest in a long line of innovative belay devices introduced by Trango. We designed it with an eye for function, aesthetics, and simplicity (it?s about as complicated as a door hinge)
On smaller diameter ropes, or when holding falls that generate extremely high loads (in excess of factor 1) the Cinch acts dynamically, reducing shock loads to the belay system.
Optimum rope size is 9.4 - 11mm. so it offers up a secure belay and lower on a wide range of single ropes. In addition, it will release easily and modulate fluidly while you?re rappelling or lowering off.
182g. The Cinch feeds rope easier than any other device, fits nicely in your hand, and weighs 182gm. For use on CE/UIAA dynamic climbing ropes only.
Recommended Single Rope Diameter: 9.4 - 11mm, Do not use with half or twin ropes
Suitable for all current HMS carabiners and simple ropes from 8.9-10.5 mm in diameter
Optimally suitable for Sportsclimbing, Gym Climbing, Training/Workout Climbing, Top rope Climbing
ManufacturerPetzlTrangoMammut
Price$99.95$81.85$34.95
Rating4.8 out of 5 stars4.2 out of 5 stars4.2 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Mammut Smart – ($30-50) –  – Read Reviews

Mammut Smart

Mammut Smart

Pros:

This device is the cheapest self locking (or self-assisted) device on the market. This device is very slimline, incredibly lightweight and is very compact. This device is graded down to 8.9mm rope and is actually designed to be used with thinner ropes. Mammut actually say that this device is not a true ‘self locking’ device and say that it is between a manual and auto device.

However, we feel that this device is still ‘auto’ to some degree as it will still lock up if a climber falls, etc but it will let some rope creep out especially for thinner rope. The advantage to this is that it provides less of an impact to the climber, the belayer and the rope.

The dynamic element of this belay device could actually play a part in increasing durability in your rope too, (depending on the age of the rope and the amount of use obviously).

Cons:

The biggest problem with this device is that it requires more of a learning curve to get used to using it properly and safely. Much more so than the other true ‘self locking’ devices.

Also, we found the lowering system to be a little less easier and smootherto use than the Trango Cinch or the GriGri 2 although this can be improved with technique over time.

Bottom Line:

This device really excels at the more casual end of climbing. It is great for in the gym, Top-roping or leading at the crag and is an excellent alternative for the budget concious climber who doesn’t want to belay manual all the time.

However, we found that for more high-performance climbs and multi-pitch climbs, the other true ‘self locking’ devices such as the Cinch and the GriGri 2 were much more appropriate and easier to use.

For $30-40 this device is excellent and we would recommend this to anyone who is looking to upgrade from manual belay for low-cost.

User reviews:

“Excellent belay device. Basically a fancy ATC. I have only used this device for top rope climbing in a gym so far. There is a bit of a learning curve but it is very intuitive if you are experienced at using an ATC. This device auto locks as long as the brake rope is held down, you don’t need to put a lot of pressure on the rope, just keep it down; good when your heavy climbing parter wants to hang for awhile. I highly recommend this device over a grigri as there are no moving parts and it is much much lighter and cheaper.” – Read Reviews

 

Trango Cinch – ($75-90) –  – Read Reviews

Trango Cinch

Trango Cinch

Pros:

The Trango Cinch is one of the main contenders to the GriGri 2 – It is around $25 dollars less than the GriGri 2 and it weighs about 20% less also.

The lower weight is down to a simple design difference in this device that reduces bulk compared to other devices which is important if you want to reduce weight on those long climbs.

It is also a very smooth device that will work almost as well as the GriGri 2 and has a nice feature that will allow you to pay out line quickly without having to take your hand off the brake line.

Cons:

The main problem with this device is that it is not really as smooth as the GriGri 2 and we found that the lever system was not as accurate at lowering a climber either.

There is also a bit of a learning curve to this device that can take some getting used to, whereas we found that the GriGri 2 was a lot easier to use out of the box – it is really important to get used to all the features of the Cinch and to read the instructions properly and look at instructional videos, etc.

This can also make the Cinch a little less instinctive when belaying a leader and you may find yourself short-roping the climber if you aren’t extremely careful which can get annoying, especially on more intense climbs where the climber will want a lot of line fast to get into those hard clips.

Bottom Line:

This really is a device for advanced climbers and beginners or intermediates should look towards something else if they want something easier to use (we recommend the GriGri 2 or the Mammut Smart)

Also, if you don’t mind paying the extra $25-30 then get the GriGri 2 for a more all-round versatile and easy to use device.

If you are experienced however, and don’t mind putting in the extra effort to learn how to use the device then get this device and save the extra cash and the extra weight.

 User Reviews:

“A little weird getting used to it in the beginning, but now I love it. You must use it exactly as shown in the video & tech sheet to get it to function properly, especially to belay a leader & rappel.” – Read Reviews

 Verdict – ClimbingThings.com Favorite Self-locking Belay Device!

Petzl GriGri 2 – ($95-120) –  – Read Reviews

Petzl gri gri

Petzl GriGri 2

The first thing you must know about the GriGri 2 is that the product intially went through some developmental problems. The GriGri 2 is one of the best devices on the market but if you are in doubt about the recall situation, please check here for information on the Petzl Website

Pros:

The Petzl GriGri was an all time classic belay device and has been a favorite amongst climbers for years. The GriGri2 is the newer, improved is amongst the smoothest devices for lowering climbers, paying out line for leaders but still has a very trustworthy locking system for catching falling climbers when the time comes. 

As with ALL belay devices it is still required to keep control of the brake line but this device will take most of the weight off that hand and save you a lot of effort.

Unlike the original, this device works well with the thinner rope as well as thicker rope and is graded to a minimum of around 8.9mm rope thickness so take note of this when choosing your device/rope and ensure that they will be happy together!

Cons:

As mentioned, this device is only really designed to tackle the thicker ropes, which is not good if you prefer to climb on skinnier ropes. Choose the GriGri 2 if you want something to handle the smaller thickness ropes.

This device is also starting to show its age a little too – It is heavy, bulky and is not as versatile as some other devices on the market.

Unfortunately, this device can be a little tricky to use, so it is not recommended for beginners as there is a learning curve to using the device safely and properly.

Do not use any belay device before seeking professional instruction as you could be potentially risking your climber’s life. 

Bottom Line:

We really like this device for one main reason: The original GriGri really is one of the most well respected long-term belay devices and many climbers wouldn’t climb anywhere without one, the GriGri2 is the upgraded, improved version, Petzl say it is 25% smaller and 20% lighter.

For $95-120 this device is fairly expensive, so be sure that you will use this device if you buy it, but the durability on this device means it will last you for years.

It is hard to beat this device, but if you are looking for something cheaper, look to the Mammut Smart or the Trango Cinch

If you already have the original GriGri, then there is no need to upgrade unless you want the capability to use skinnier rope. We would recommend waiting until you retire your current device before upgrading.

User Reviews:

“I love the new and improved GriGri2! It’s smaller, lighter, and the descent control is easier to control vs the old GriGri.” – Read Reviews

 

Auto Blocking Belay Devices

Auto blocking devices, or ‘guide devices’ are devices that allow for rappelling off an anchor as well as providing the same features as a regular manual belay device. They can be recognised from the additional fixed loop on the device for fixing to an anchor point.

They are particularly useful on long, multi-pitch climbs to save your arms and to save you having to hang in your harness when belaying a second.

There aren’t any major differences between the devices reviewed below,

Image
BrandMad RockPetzlBlack Diamond
ManufacturerMad RockPetzlBlack Diamond
TitleMad Rock Mad-Lock Belay Device Grey, One SizeReverso 3 Belay / Rappel Device Blue 000 by Petzl(Blue)Black Diamond ATC - Guide Belay Device (Assorted)
Price$15.95$30.56$20.97
FeatureUltra light (72g), multi-purpose belay/rappel device, with range of friction adapted to different rope. Made from hot-forged aluminum
For use on single ropes (? 8,9 mm), half and twin ropes (? 7,5 mm)
V-shaped friction channels: increased friction on thin ropes; Friction is adapted for larger diameter ropes, Increased holding power in Reverso mode
Asymmetrically grooved sidewalls. Increased braking power during a leader or top rope fall or while rappelling. Rope smoothly slides through device when taking up slack
Rope friendly: will not kink the ropes regardless of the mode used; Separates the two strands of rope when belaying and rappelling
Smooth regular friction side and for twice the friction, a grooved high friction side
Made from durable, hot-forged anodized 7075-T6 aluminum
Handles rope sizes from 7.7 - 11mm
Weight 3.6oz
Rating4.0 out of 5 stars4.0 out of 5 stars5.0 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Mad Rock Mad Lock – ($16-20) –  – Read Reviews

Mad rock mad lock

Mad rock mad lock

Pros:

The first thing you’ll probably notice when you pick up the Mad Lock apart from the aggressive design (which we love by the way) is how light this thing is. Weighing at 2.8oz this is half the weight of self locking locking devices and mostly less than an ounce heavier than regular manual devices, which is good if you consider that this device is all one fixed piece.

If you use thicker ropes, then this device is a lot smoother for belaying and rappelling than the Petzl Reverso and the ATC Guide which are both better suited to thinner ropes. However, the Mad Lock is very versatile and comes with pins that will increase the effectiveness of the device with smaller rope diameters. Bear in mind that these will increase the weight of the device by an ounce or two.

The hooked design on the Mad Lock means that when rappelling you have the option to create more friction as opposed to locking the rope against your leg or a carabiner. You can also use the hook as a bottle opener, should you find yourself in need.

Cons:

As handy as the hook design is for creating friction or opening beer bottles, we found it annoying and can be obstructive especially when using the device manually for belaying a leader and paying out rope, etc.

Also, the overall friction of the device isn’t as good as the ATC Guide or the Reverso without using the hook.

Bottom Line:

This can be a little tricky to get used to especially with the design of the device, but the technique for this device can soon be perfected if you are willing to practise with it.

This is a great value device and is an excellent all-rounder for almost any application. With the lowest price on the market, we would recommend this to beginners who would like something that allows a lot of lightweight versatility for a low price-tag.

Tip:

Be sure to keep the pins for the device secure so that you don’t lose them as they are quite small and easily lost. Keep them in the zipper of a chalk bag, etc. Also, carry a screwdriver to remove/add them to the device.

User Reviews:

“The device does function very well for belay from above, rappelling and belaying the leader. It is of solid construction and is very light.” – Read Reviews

 

Petzl Reverso 3 – ($38-40) –  – Read Reviews

Petzl Reverso 3

Petzl Reverso 3

Pros:

The Petzl Reverso 3 is another excellent choice for those that want to be able to belay off an anchor on long climbs.

This device is the lightest auto block belay device and is one of the most commonly used devices by guides and experienced climbers when climbing on smaller diameter ropes.

As with all auto block devices, the Reverso provides a lot of versatility for almost any application and we found that it stood up well to almost all types of belaying, including use as a manual belay device. It is responsive to falls and provides excellent friction when needed.

Cons:

The biggest turn-off for this device is that this device is not very durable. Because of the lightweight material from which the device is constructed, we found that the teeth and the tube of the device wore out for a lot of climbers over the course of one season and had to be retired due to sharp edges which could potentially attack the rope passing through it.

We find the ATC Guide to be a lot more durable and sturdy and didn’t mind the extra weight.

Also, we found the friction on the device to be too heavy when using in conjunction with a thick rope (10mm +) and we would recommend the Mad Rock Mad Lock for those who want versatility.

Bottom Line:

This is perfect who don’t mind spending more for the lighter gear. This device works just as well as any other, but we would prefer something with a little more versatility and durability.

User Reviews:

“I bought this belay device as my first when I started climbing. It’s well made and light weight. It has teeth that allow for better control when lowering a climber. The openings are a bit larger then normal tube belay devices and this allows for easier feeding of rope when belaying a lead climber.” – Read Reviews

 

 Verdict – ClimbingThings.com Favorite Auto Blocking Belay Device!

 

Black Diamond ATC Guide – ($19-30) –  – Read Reviews

Black diamond atc guide

Black Diamond ATC Guide

Pros:

Much like the manual version, his device is a tough, rugged device with tons of durability and is incredibly easy to use and will last season after season as opposed to the Reverso which needs replacing after just one season of hard use.

At around $25 we found this device to be one of the most affordable too.

Much like the Reverso, this device is designed for use with thinner ropes and we found that will smoothly pay out line when belaying a leader or rappelling, catching a fall or lowering a climber when in standard mode or lock up nicely in guide mode with the thinner rope.

Cons:

This device does prefer the thinner ropes but with the fatter ropes we found that there was high friction and there was extra pressure on the elbows when in guide mode.

The extra weight may be a bigger problem for some people, in which case spend the extra money and go for the Reverso.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect device for beginners who want an all-round device without the learning curve of the Mad Rock Mad Lock. 

The extra weight may be a problem for some, but we preferred the lower cost and extra durability of the ATC Guide.

User Reviews:

“I bought this device on a whim when I was buying my first set of climbing gear… and it is one of the better investments I’ve ever made. The sheer versatility of it makes it a valuable addon to your climbing rack. I’ve used it for self belay, top rope, rappelling, and even Aussie rappelling (not an intended us, but it works really well). Beginner or Expert alike, I highly recommend this ATC.” – Read Reviews

 
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