Updated on

There is nothing quite like the bond formed between climber and belayer. As a belayer, your partner trusts you to catch them when they fall and get them back to the ground safely once they’ve finished a route. While correct belay technique is essential, having the best belay device for your needs definitely helps.

Whether you are a gym climber, trad climber, sport climber, alpine climber or all of the above, our goal here at The Adventure Junkies is to help you pick the best belay device and get you one step closer to your next adventure.

Awesome belay technique is the most important part about being a great belayer. As belaying is critically important to the safety of the climber, we recommend learning proper belay technique from an expert or through an AMGA-certified course to get you going.

For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out the Best Pulleys for Rock Climbing

Climbing Gift Guide
Climber gift guide mobile

 

Quick Answer - The Best Belay Devices

  1. Petzl GriGri
  2. Black Diamond ATC Guide
  3. Edelrid Mega Jul
  4. Climbing Technology Click Up Plus
  5. Petzl Reverso 4
  6. Black Diamond ATC
  7. Mammut Smart
  8. CAMP USA Matik

 

Comparison Table - Best Belay Device

PictureNameStyleWeightRope SizePriceRating
Petzl GriGriBrake Assist6.1 oz8.9 mm - 11.0 mm$$5.0
Black Diamond ATC GuideAuto-block Tube3.2 oz7.7 mm - 11.0 mm$4.7
Edelrid Mega JulPassive Brake Assist2.3 oz7.8 mm - 10.5 mm$4.1
Climbing Technology Click Up PlusPassive Brake Assist4.3 oz8.6 mm - 10.5 mm$$4.7
Petzl Reverso 4Auto-block Tube2.2 oz7.5 mm - 11.0 mm$4.5
Black Diamond ATCTube2.0 oz7.7 mm - 11.0 mm$4.8
DMM PivotAuto-block Tube2.6 oz7.3 mm - 11.0 mm$4.4
Mammut SmartPassive Brake Assist4.8 oz8.7 mm - 10.5 mm$$4.0
CAMP USA MatikBrake Assist9.7 oz8.6 mm - 10.2 mm$$$4.5
PictureNameStyleWeightRope SizePriceRating

Reviews - The Best Rock Climbing Belay Devices

Petzl GriGri

Specs
  • Rope Size: 8.9 mm - 11.0 mm
  • Style: Brake Assist
  • Weight: 6.1 oz

BEST USE: SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Smooth rope handling, easy to use, standard brake assist device in the industry

CONS: Fairly expensive, single strand only

ROPE SLOTS: One

Black Diamond ATC Guide

Specs
  • Rope Size: 7.7 mm - 11.0 mm
  • Style: Auto-block Tube
  • Weight: 3.2 oz

BEST USE: MULTI-PITCH CLIMBING; SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Great for belaying a second on multi-pitch climbs, accommodates single or double ropes, good value

CONS: Lowering is difficult in guide mode, not ideal with thicker ropes

ROPE SLOTS: Two

Edelrid Mega Jul

Specs
  • Rope Size: 7.8 mm - 10.5 mm
  • Style: Passive Brake Assist
  • Weight: 2.3 oz

BEST USE: MULTI-PITCH CLIMBING; SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Lightweight, small, great value, accommodates single or double ropes, strong braking assistance

CONS: Poor auto-block friction, rappelling/lowering can be strenuous

ROPE SLOTS: Two

Climbing Technology Click Up Plus

Specs
  • Rope Size: 8.6 mm - 10.5 mm
  • Style: Passive Brake Assist
  • Weight: 4.3 oz

BEST USE: GYM CLIMBING; BEGINNERS

PROS: Suitable for beginners and children because intuitive and error-proof, no moving parts

CONS: Doesn’t lock up immediately for top-rope “takes” or when belaying a lighter climber

ROPE SLOTS: One

Petzl Reverso 4

Specs
  • Rope Size: 7.5 mm - 11.0 mm
  • Style: Auto-block Tube
  • Weight: 2.2 oz

BEST USE: MULTI-PITCH CLIMBING; SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Lightweight, great for belaying a second on multi-pitch climbs, accommodates single or double ropes, good value

CONS: Lowering is difficult in guide mode, not ideal with thicker ropes

ROPE SLOTS: Two

Black Diamond ATC

Specs
  • Rope Size: 7.7 mm - 11.0 mm
  • Style: Tube
  • Weight: 2.0 oz

BEST USE: SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Very lightweight, inexpensive, accommodates single or double ropes, good for rappelling

CONS: No guide mode for use on multi-pitch climbs

ROPE SLOTS: Two

DMM Pivot

Specs
  • Rope Size: 7.3 mm - 11.0 mm
  • Style: Auto-block Tube
  • Weight: 2.6 oz

BEST USE: MULTI-PITCH CLIMBING; SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Unique pivot system for easy lowering when in guide mode, accommodates single or double ropes, good for rappelling

CONS: Not ideal with thicker ropes

ROPE SLOTS: Two

Mammut Smart

Specs
  • Rope Size: 8.7 mm - 10.5 mm
  • Style: Passive Brake Assist
  • Weight: 4.8 oz

BEST USE: SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH; ALPINE CLIMBING

PROS: Good value, durable, dynamically brakes the climber in a fall

CONS: Somewhat bulky, jerky when rappelling/lowering

ROPE SLOTS: Two

CAMP USA Matik

Specs
  • Rope Size: 8.6 mm - 10.2 mm
  • Style: Brake Assist
  • Weight: 9.7 oz

BEST USE: BEGINNERS; SPORT, TRAD, OR GYM SINGLE PITCH

PROS: Gradual camming action, anti-panic system blocks rope in emergency, easier for lefties

CONS: Very expensive, heavy, not as smooth as a GriGri, single strand only

ROPE SLOTS: One

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BELAY DEVICES

BELAY DEVICE STYLE

 

BRAKE ASSIST

Brake assist belay devices offer a mechanical advantage to help the belayer to brake effectively. These devices are especially useful when you are belaying someone on a project (a route that is very difficult for the climber) and catching lots of falls. They are also great if your climber calls “Take!”, because with proper belay technique no extra slack can pass through the device. Brake assist devices are often equipped with a camming mechanism.

 

PASSIVE BRAKE ASSIST

Passive brake assist devices also help with braking when tension is applied in the system. These devices work by pinching the rope between the device and a carabiner.

 

TUBULAR

Regular tubular belay devices offer no brake assist. These devices arrest a fall by relying on friction between the rope and the device coupled with proper belay technique. They are simple to use, light and inexpensive. 

 

AUTO-BLOCK TUBULAR

Auto-block tubular belay devices have an additional metal loop on the side. The loop is used when setting up the belay device at an anchor so that the belayer can top-belay a second. Top-belaying with the device is called guide or reverso mode and offers an auto-blocking advantage on the rope if the climber were to fall.

In all situations, the brake hand should never come off the rope when you are belaying. Remember that even brake assist devices are not foolproof and must be always be used with correct belaying technique.

 

SINGLE OR DUAL ROPE SLOTS

One advantage of dual rope slots in a belay device is that it is easy to rappel using the same device. In many situations routes may not have fixed anchors, meaning that rappelling is often necessary. Many multi-pitch routes also require that climbers rappel to descend.

Climbers who prefer to climb alpine and multi-pitch routes with twin or half ropes also need a belay device that can accommodate both ropes at once.

 

WEIGHT

Are you heading into the alpine or planning to tackle some long multi-pitch routes? If so, weight is probably one of your deciding factors when choosing gear. Belay tubes are much lighter than brake assist devices and tend to be a great choice for these pursuits. They are also simple to use and have two rope slots which make them great for rappelling. 

If you tend to climb mostly in the gym or on single pitch routes outside, weight is less of a concern and a heavier brake assist device is a great option.

 

CARING FOR YOUR DEVICE

Store your belay device when it is clean and dry. If gunk has accumulated in your device, use an old toothbrush to gently remove it. Inspect your device regularly to watch for grooves or sharp edges forming in the metal which may come in contact with your rope.

READ MORE

For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Climbing Junkie

Kim is an all-around climbing addict. She’s been pulling down on rock and plastic for 12 years and has travelled all around North America to climb. Her favourite disciplines are sport climbing and bouldering, but you may find her plugging gear as well. When not away on climbing roadies with her husband, she is based just outside the granite wonderland of Squamish in British Columbia, Canada.

Related Posts

1K Shares
Tweet
Pin1K
Share130
Email
Flip