The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is madness this time of year—the reason is the summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, a massive gathering (over 20,000 people, I've been told) of outdoor gear and apparel companies, retailers, media, and athletes.
Belay Device Reviews
For the modern climber's purposes, there are three major types of belay devices: full-manual, self-braking, and mechanical-assist, each with its own inherent benefits and weaknesses.
Whether you’re doing your first 5.8 toprope or starting the 10th pitch of a big wall, you need a belay device. These simple tools help climbers apply the brakes to a rope, making it relatively easy to stop a fall, lower another climber, or rappel. While belay devices are fairly basic, lightweight tools, they are useless without correct belay and rappel techniques. Moreover, many devices require unique techniques— what you learn on one device doesn’t necessarily apply to another. Read the manual, go online, or get competent instruction to learn how to safely belay or rappel with your specific device.
Black Diamond Hoodwire Quickdraw - This is the first ready-to-buy draw using BD’s clever HoodWire technology. A standard wire-gate biner has a hook in the nose that can snag on bolt hangers or gear loops on your harness, but the HoodWire shields this hook with little stainless-steel strips for hassle-free clipping and unclipping. The hood will not trap debris that could cause open-gate failures, and it protects the nose from wear.
After months of testing on hundreds of routes, we offer up our picks for the most innovative, useful, and just damn good gear of the year. The Singing Rock Crux, Mammut Smart Alpine, Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate, Petzl Grigri 2, Five Ten Arrowhead, Arc'Teryx Squamish Hoody, Beal Joker 9.1, North Face Verto, and Salewa Rapace GTX all won our high praises and took home the Editors' Choice Award.
For long-suffering belay slaves, the assisted-braking belay device has been one of the most welcome gear innovations of the last two decades. Unlike traditional tube-style devices, these gizmos actually help the belayer hold a falling or hanging climber. They either use moving parts (e.g., Petzl Grigri 2) or the geometry of the device (e.g., Wild Country SRC) to apply braking force to a rope. With an assisted-braking device, it’s less tiring to hold a climber when he hangs for the 37th time on his project.
The German company Edelrid recently released a single-rope sport belay device that, in addition to offering a mean catch, taps into something beyond the numerology of rope diameters and ounces — the Jul, as it’s called, has sex appeal. Yes, it’s light (2.1oz), and it handles ropes from 8.9 to 10.5mm, but the first reaction the Jul elicits is more visceral than cerebral: you just want one.
Problem: you’re belaying your second directly off the anchor station when he falls. He hollers up, asking to be lowered 10 feet to a ledge. To feed the requisite slack with many self-braking belay devices, you’d have to hook a release hole with an extra carabiner (possibly adding a sling) and use mechanical advantage. Solution: the Mad Lock from Mad Rock.
A dependable belay device can make the difference between a safe retreat and desperate defeat.
The Reverso ($21, 2.9 ounces) plays the dual roles of a belay/rappel plate and an auto-locking device. In lead/rappel mode it feeds both single and double ropes just like a tube device.
The Wild Country Variable Controller indeed lives up to its name, offering great friction control while lowering and rappelling.
The Trango Pyramid is a time honored design and for good reason — its versatile and effective design still ranks at the top of the pack. The long tapered tube, which provides a smooth rope-bearing surface and features effective heat-dispersing metal fins, flips so that you can rig either the narrow end close to the biner for extra control or the wide end for quickly feeding rope.