Belay Device Reviews

There are more belay devices on the market than anytime in climbing's history, and Climbing magazine's expert reviewers will help you choose just the right one for your needs. Our field-tested reviews cover tube-style belay devices, assisted-braking devices, and auto-blocking devices.
  • HPECTrad

    Gear Guide 2014: Trad Climbing

    From cams to carabiners to shoes, here are 18 of the best new products for plug-and-chuggers.

  • HPEC

    Gear Guide 2014: Editors' Choice Awards

    Innovative, smart, lust-worthy, and just plain cool: 10 new must-have products that topped our testers’ lists.

  • Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009

    Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009

    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.

  • 2008 Gear Guide: Belay Devices

    2008 Gear Guide: Belay Devices

    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.

  • 1. Tube (Black Diamond ATC-XP)

    2012 Gear Guide: How to Buy - Belay Devices

    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

    2012 Gear Guide: Hardware

    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.

  • EC-Singing-Rock-Crux_31219.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide Editors' Choice

    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.

  • 293-Grigri-2_30560.jpg

    Catch This: A Close Look at Assisted-Braking Belay Devices

    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.

  • EdelridJul_26200.jpg

    New and Notable: Edelrid Jul - 2010 Gear Guide

    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.

  • MAD ROCK MAD LOCK - 2009 Gear Guide

    MAD ROCK MAD LOCK - 2009 Gear Guide

    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.

  • Belay device review - No 223 - August 2003

    Belay device review - No 223 - August 2003

    A dependable belay device can make the difference between a safe retreat and desperate defeat.

  • Petzl Reverso - Belay Device Review

    Petzl Reverso - Belay Device Review

    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.

  • Wild Country - Belay Device Review

    Wild Country - Belay Device Review

    The Wild Country Variable Controller indeed lives up to its name, offering great friction control while lowering and rappelling.

  • Trango - Belay Device Review

    Trango Pyramid

    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.

  • Omega Pacific - Belay Device Review

    Omega Pacific - Belay Device Review

    Unlike the keeper loops that all the other devices in our test utilize, the SBG II features a solid-metal stem, which renders the durability issue moot.

  • Metolius -Belay Device Review

    Metolius -Belay Device Review

    The Metolius BRD shines on rappels and lowering, where its "horn" which extends off the side of the tube, came in very handy for varying friction.

  • Hugh Banner - Belay Device Review

    Hugh Banner - Belay Device Review

    The Hugh Banner provides solid, workable performance in all categories. The thick walls of the tube are very durable and rope friendly.

  • DMM/Excalibur - Belay Device Review

    DMM/Excalibur - Belay Device Review

    The DMM Bug is a thick-walled, durable unit that excels when you're belaying with skinny ropes, either single or double.

  • Cassin/Climbaxe - Belay Device Review

    Cassin/Climbaxe - Belay Device Review

    While the Cassin GTC sits at the upper end of the belay-device price spectrum, it is a complete package, delivering solid performance in all categories.

  • Black Diamond - Belay Device Review

    Black Diamond - Belay Device Review

    Looking for a cush ride and a smooth catch? The ATC XP is our device of choice - its deep, curved jaws caught falls with aplomb and provided excellent variable friction for free-hanging rappels.

  • C.A.M.P. - Belay Device Review

    C.A.M.P. - Belay Device Review

    The Arc/Shell (identical models available from different sources) delivers reasonable fall catching.

  • Advanced Basecamp/Kong - Belay Device Review

    Advanced Basecamp/Kong - Belay Device Review

    The Arc/Shell (identical models available from different sources) delivers reasonable fall catching.