Best Overall Climbing Belay Device
Petzl GriGri 2
Handles rope smoothly
Good for ropes as small as 8.9mm
A bit heavy
Can only handle one strand of rope
Petzl released the first batch of GriGris in 1991 and they quickly became a favorite of both sport climbers and big wallers. The original design was updated in 2011 with the GriGri 2
and today that design remains the most popular assisted braking device in the world. We like it for many reasons, including its low weight, strong catch, and smooth handling. Other companies have introduced their own assisted braking models that might surpass the GriGri in a few narrow areas. None, however, have been able to combine good performance across a range of applications into a single package like the GriGri 2 does. For this reason it remains our Editors' Choice and the gold standard for belay devices.
Read full review: GriGri 2
Best Bang for the Buck
Black Diamond ATC XP
Great friction control when lowering/rappelling
Pays out rope smoothly
Although the GriGri 2 is our favorite device for experienced climbers and single-pitch cragging, we think the Black Diamond ATC XP
is the best for new climbers or anyone on a budget. It's designed in the classic tube shape with two friction channels to enable double strand rappels. It's one of the easiest to learn and includes a toothed groove on one side of the tube for superior braking strength when catching lead falls. Compared to it's closest challenger, the Petzl Verso, we preferred the ATC XP because it's slightly more durable and has stronger lock-off friction. They're both great devices though, so look for deals and consider whichever one is on sale.
Read full review: Black Diamond ATC XP
Top Pick for Multi-Pitch Climbing
Black Diamond ATC Guide
Ideal for belaying seconds on multi-pitch climbs
Not as light as the Reverso 4
For climbers that like to do it all, our recommendation is the Black Diamond ATC Guide
. This device offers the same ideal characteristics as the ATC XP for standard belays while also providing auto-block capability for bringing up followers directly on an anchor. The GriGri 2 is only able to belay a single strand and that limitation classifies it as a luxury in our eyes. Most climbers will also need a two strand device for rappels and the ATC Guide is our favorite. The Petzl Reverso 4
put up stiff competition by offering similar features at an ounce less weight. However, the ATC Guide's superior durability and lower auto-block resistance are the reasons we ultimately chose it as our Top Pick for multi-pitch climbing.
Read full review: Black Diamond ATC Guide