What Are the Best Belay Devices This Year?

Belay devices are an essential piece of equipment for any rock-climbing enthusiast.

They provide a crucial safety net for the climber and allow for efficient communication between the climber and their belayer.

With so many options on the market, choosing the best one for your needs can be overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best belay devices available today.

Our team of experienced climbers has tested each device, evaluating factors such as ease of use, reliability, and versatility.

We understand that every climber has unique preferences and requirements, so we’ve included various options to suit different climbing styles.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a user-friendly device to start with or an experienced climber seeking a high-performance option, we’ve got you covered.

We understand the importance of selecting a belay device to inspire confidence in your climbing partner and ensure your safety on the rock.

Best Belay Devices
What Are the Best Belay Devices This Year?

What Is a Belay Device?

A belay device is a mechanical device used in rock climbing, rappelling, and other activities involving rope work to control the rope’s tension and speed.

It allows the belayer to securely hold and brake the rope in case of a fall or other emergency.

Belay devices come in various designs, including tube-style devices, assisted-braking devices, and figure-eight devices.

A List of the 10 Best Belay Devices 

For this list of the 10 best belay devices, we chose products that have the highest ratings and the highest number of reviews that our team was able to read and synthesize.

Based on this information, we have selected the ten best belay devices to present to you.

1. GM Rescue Figure 8 Descender with Bent-Ear Rappelling Gear

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It comes as an updated version of the regular figure-8 rappelling device. The model offers a few extra perks over its variant. Firstly, it features a bent ear design. The newer design presents more flexibility and ease of usage compared to the standard figure-8 device. 

Also, the larger main slot allows you to double or triple up the single rope for a slower descent and added friction. The descender’s body is comparatively thicker. So, your rope will incur less wear and tear when it comes into contact with it.

Rappellers could lock themselves off using the bent ears while keeping both hands free; that’s a significant advantage. GM’s climbing carries a strength rating of 40 KN, which renders enhanced durability for rappelling, mountaineering, and rescue operations.

The descender is indeed among the best belaying devices for rappellers currently. It’s durable, affordable, and designed to ensure minimal rope wear and slow descent. With a weight of 9.95 oz, the device shows compatibility with ropes having diameters between 7 mm and 11 mm.

2. Petzl GRIGRI Belay Device

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If you carry enough climbing experience and want to pick the best of all belay devices, look no further than Petzl GriGri. It undoubtedly makes your best choice.

In my opinion, the product comes with everything you may want in a traditional belaying device. Despite this fact, its higher price might make you cringe.

It comes as a highly reliable and durable device for belaying. You may use it for standard belaying techniques, including catching falls and feeding slack.

Furthermore, you can use it at your climbing gym and for crag climbing scenarios. The assisted braking system included in Petzl GriGri makes the device stand out even in a crowded market.

That means the device will help you stop automatically in the case of an unfortunate fall. For this reason, it carries a higher price tag. Yet, it saves your life amid undesirable incidents.

The equipment is compatible with ropes having diameters between 8.5 mm and 11 mm. Still, the product delivers optimum results with ropes between 8.9 mm and 10.5 mm in diameter. It weighs around 9.6 oz or 272 grams.

3. Black Diamond Big Air XP Package

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Finding a belaying device better than ATC XP is hard. There’s a reason why you can’t find an alternative to ATC XP. It comes as one of the most affordable and best devices in any country right now.

Moreover, it’s effortless to use. Still, some newbie enthusiasts lack info on operating this equipment. If you wish to find out more about the device, check it out now.

Coming back to ATC, it has a higher friction mode to ensure more hold (up to 300 percent) and better-stopping power than the usual friction mode.

The piece weighs around 64 grams or 2.3 oz. Due to its exclusive design built on machined windows, the piece carries a lighter weight than most other models on the market. The ATC gives better results with ropes between 7.7 mm and 11 mm in diameter.

It includes a cable for holding its shape under stress. Plus, it doesn’t tangle with ropes. After reading all the perks, it’s evident that Black Diamond’s ATC is perfect for beginners. It doesn’t carry a higher price, which is another plus.

4. Mad Rock Lifeguard

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Labeled as a reliable belaying device, Mad Rock proves its worth every time. It’s made out of stainless steel and aircraft-grade (hot-forged) aluminum. It possesses the potency to become the most durable and formidable belay device all over the world.

Plus, it renders a fair degree of flexibility. You can easily use it for classic belaying techniques with ropes having diameters between 8.9 mm and 11 mm. It’s additionally compatible with top rope and lead climbing.

As far as pricing is concerned, it falls in the medium category. That means you can have it without disturbing your wallet. The device presents a perfect balance between affordability, reliability, and safety. Also, it comes with assisted braking, which is why it’s called Lifeguard.

Weighing around 5.4 oz, the equipment is on the lighter side. You can order the device in only Red color. While that isn’t my preferred color, it offers better visual appeal to the device. All in all, the product makes a perfect fit for beginners and professionals alike.

5. EDELRID Jul 2 Belay Device

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It offers unbelievable value for your money. The Mega Jul is a top-quality device meant for belaying a single leader or bringing up 2 seconds. 

Plus, the device works well with abseiling and rappelling. Why? It encompasses a durable stainless steel body and high braking performance. Mega Jul has a small eyelet you can use for releasing a unit while bringing a person up. It’s ideal for ropes between 3 mm and 15 mm.

The reason why Edelrid chose stainless steel is the fact that this sturdy material averts early wear and tear resulting from rope fiction. Furthermore, it doesn’t burr or form sharp edges that might damage the rope.

The makers have reinforced the potentially vulnerable parts of Mega Jul. So, the likelihood of possible damages is minimal. Mega Jul weighs about 2.2 oz. It means it’s slightly bulky compared to the Micro Jul.

6. TRANGO Vergo Rock Climbing Belay Device

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In the makers’ words, it’s among the top ergonomic devices that you can find in any part of the world. It was apparently built for reliability, safety, and unmatched smoothness.

That makes it popular for rock climbing. It comes with physical and visual indicators, ensuring easy and correct usage each time.

Plus, it includes dedicated spots for thumbs and index fingers to render enhanced comfort, thus providing relief. The way Vergo feeds a rope makes it stand out from others. 

The device provides your rope horizontally instead of in the vertical direction that comparable products use. This kind of arrangement supports better arm motion and effective slack management.

The item weighs around 195 grams or 6.8 oz. The recommended diameter (for a single rope) is 8.9 mm to 10.7 mm. If the manufacturing origin matters to you, the device is made in the US. It’s difficult to find a belay device as good as Vergo.

7. PETZL Reverso Climbing Belay Device

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In case you want to have your hands on an all-rounder device that doesn’t pinch your budget, consider buying Petzl Reverso. It’s a multi-use belay and rappel device you can use for belaying a second in the Reverso mode.

It features a beautiful design that mimics the liking of the ATC. Using the device is effortless. Plus, you can depend on it in all situations. It works with a variety of rope diameters.

This Reverso includes single ropes between 8.5 mm and 10.5 mm or half ropes with diameters between 7.1 mm and 9.2 mm. Additionally, you can use it with twin ropes (diameters between 6.9 mm and 8.2 mm).

The rope slots have a simple and effective design that allows easy gliding and smooth movements with minimal wear and tear.

The product weighs approximately 2.4 oz, making it a lighter piece for easy outdoor adventures. You can find the device in three colors – Black, Red, and Green.

8. CAMP Shell Belay Device

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The product has an older design, popular among older generations. Despite this fact, the CAMP Shell device is highly affordable and provides good value for your money. However, I can’t endorse it as the primary friction device.

Still, you can use it as a backup. Designed mainly for rappelling and lead climbing, it comes with a lighter aluminum build. The device weighs around 2.4 oz or 58 grams. When you compare it with other devices, CAMP Shell stands unmatched in terms of lightweight and smoothness. It has been rated well for 20KN.

Plus, it works great for a variety of ropes in different sizes. Sadly, I was unable to find details about rope sizes for the device. However, I’m working on this point. Once I get the necessary info, I’ll update this post for you.

The device easily finds its way into the pocket of those with a slim budget. Without pinching your wallet, anyone can order this reliable and durable belaying device. The item does have its shortcomings. Still, you could use it as the primary device, provided you use it in view of its limitations.

9. EDELRID Eddy Belay Device

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It’s another belaying device that comes with emergency brakes. Eddy is an attractive option for those interested in controlled descents and features a lowering lever for safe descents. It works on a simple operating process you can find on the device.

Eddy has been on the market since 2005. Now, it’s considered among the most reliable belaying devices. Essentially, it’s a semi-automatic device ideal for indoor climbing. You can also use it for specific lighter sports applications.

The device is compatible with ropes having diameters from 9 mm to 11 mm. As far as weight is concerned, it falls in the category of heavier devices. The device carries a weight of 12.8 oz. Yet, the higher weight comes as no surprise since it features a metal body.

Also, note that the item may include enough greasing when you take it from the box. So, better do the cleaning chore before putting it to use.

10. Geelife The Lightest Rock Climbing Ascender

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The device doesn’t look promising by its appearance. Yet, it stands as a complex belaying device for various roles in your situations. According to the makers, it’s the lightest ascender for rock climbers all over the world. It touches the scales at 3.1 oz or 90 grams.

The lightweight is attributed to a magnesium (hot-forged) alloy body. Such a build supports better durability without increasing weight. The connection hole of the rope grip features a bi-directional system. It connects with the lock on its own.

This device is highly compatible with rope sizes ranging from 8 mm to 13 mm. You may also employ the rope for many other activities, including rock climbing, carving, aerial work, and rescue operations.

Since the device’s breaking load stands at 22KN, it’s more than required for climbers with any level of experience. It’s a cheap and lightweight device you can use for lighter applications.

For climbing at higher altitudes, I’d suggest a backup with this device. It’s better to use the product as a backup.

How Does a Belay Device Work?

A belay device is a piece of climbing equipment used to control the rope while climbing.

It creates friction on the rope, allowing the belayer to control the climber’s ascent or descent speed.

The rope is threaded through the belay device and then attached to the climber’s harness.

As the rope is pulled through the device, it creates friction, which slows down the climber’s movement.

The belayer can control the friction by applying pressure to the rope with their hand or using a brake lever on the device.

This helps to ensure the climber’s safety by preventing them from falling too quickly or losing control of their movement.

What Characteristics You Should Look for When Choosing the Best Belay Device?

It’s crucial to select a belay device that suits your specific needs and preferences in order to ensure both your own safety and the safety of your climbing partner.

When choosing a belay device, there are several key characteristics to consider that can help guide your selection process.

These include the type of device (assisted braking, tube style, or plate style), compatibility with the diameter of your rope, the design and weight of the device, and more.

We’ll take an in-depth look at each of these critical factors to help you select the best belay device for your climbing goals.

Additionally, we’ll provide insightful information on some of the top-rated and most popular belay devices on the market to give you a comprehensive understanding of the

Belay Device’s Quality of Construction

When selecting the best belay device for your climbing needs, it is crucial to consider the quality of construction.

Quality of construction refers to the overall durability and reliability of the device.

This is an important factor to consider, as a belay device with poor construction could result in dangerous consequences while climbing.

A high-quality belay device should be made from durable materials that can withstand the rigors of regular climbing.

It should also be designed with precision, with smooth edges and no sharp burrs that could damage ropes.

Additionally, a well-constructed belay device should offer a strong and reliable locking mechanism to ensure optimal safety.

When evaluating different belay devices, it is important to thoroughly examine their construction before making your final decision.

The quality of construction should not be overlooked, as it can make a significant difference in the overall safety and success of your climbing experience.

Belay Device’s Usage Comfort

When choosing the best belay device, it is critical to consider the level of comfort it provides.

The user’s comfort should not be overlooked, as it can impact both safety and performance.

Look for belay devices with comfortable handles, as well as designs that prevent the rope from jamming or twisting, leading to a smoother belaying experience.

Additionally, consider the size and weight of the device, as this can also affect comfort during use.

Belaying for extended periods can be tiring, so choosing a device that prioritizes comfort can enhance the user’s experience and ultimately improve their ability to belay safely and effectively.

Therefore, prioritizing comfort in selecting a belay device can lead to a successful and enjoyable climbing adventure.

Belay Device’s Versatility for Different Types of Climbing

One important characteristic to consider when choosing the best belay device for climbing is its versatility for different types of climbing.

Whether you are bouldering, sport climbing, or trad climbing, your belay device should be able to adapt to your specific needs.

Some belay devices are designed for a single type of climbing or rope diameter, while others can accommodate a wider range of ropes and climbing styles.

A versatile belay device allows for greater flexibility and adaptability, reducing the need for multiple devices and saving money in the long run.

When evaluating a belay device’s versatility, consider factors such as the range of rope diameters it can handle, its ability to abseil or lower a climber, and its compatibility with different climbing techniques (e.g. top rope or lead climbing).

Belay Device’s Ease of Use

When choosing the best belay device for your climbing needs, ease of use is an important characteristic to consider.

A belay device that is difficult to use can not only be frustrating, but also potentially dangerous.

Look for a device that is simple and intuitive to operate, with clear instructions provided by the manufacturer.

The device should fit comfortably in your hand, with smooth and secure handling.

A belay device that is easy to operate will give you more confidence while climbing, allowing you to focus on your technique and enjoy your climb with peace of mind.

Don’t be afraid to try out different devices before making your purchase to ensure you find the one that you feel the most comfortable and confident using.

Belay Device’s Weight and Size

When it comes to choosing the best belay device for your climbing needs, there are several important characteristics to consider.

One of these characteristics is the weight and size of the device.

A heavier or bulkier belay device may be more durable or offer greater control, but it can also become a burden when climbing or hiking to your destination.

On the other hand, a lighter and more compact device may be more convenient for transportation, but may not offer the same level of control or durability.

Ultimately, it is important to find a balance between these factors to ensure that you can use your belay device effectively and comfortably during your climbs.

Consider the type of climbing you will be doing and the demands it will place on your gear, as well as your personal preferences for weight and size, when choosing the best belay device for you.

Belay Device’s Available Accessories

When choosing a belay device, it is important to consider what accessories are available for it.

Having accessories available can enhance the functionality and versatility of the device.

Look for accessories such as carabiners, anti-cross-loading devices, carrying cases, and friction pads.

Carabiners are essential for the function of the belay device, so having extras on hand can be helpful.

Anti-cross-loading devices can prevent dangerous rope movements during a fall, and carrying cases can protect the device during transport.

Friction pads can provide additional control and stability when belaying, making it easier to control the rope.

When looking for a belay device, be sure to consider what accessories are available and if they would be helpful in your climbing activities.

Belay Device’s Cost-Effectiveness

When choosing the best belay device for your climbing needs, cost-effectiveness is a key characteristic you should look for.

It is important to consider the long-term value of a device before making a purchase, as some may seem like a good deal initially but end up costing more in the long run due to frequent replacements or repairs.

A cost-effective belay device will not only have a reasonable initial purchase price but will also have high durability and longevity, requiring minimal maintenance or replacements.

Additionally, a cost-effective device will be versatile and compatible with a variety of ropes and climbing styles, eliminating the need for multiple devices and ultimately saving you money.

It’s important to weigh the initial cost against long-term value when making a decision on which belay device to invest in.

Belay Device’s User Reviews and Ratings

When choosing the best belay device, it’s important to take into consideration user reviews and ratings.

These reviews can provide insight into the real-world performance of the device and the experiences of other climbers who have used it in a variety of situations.

Look for feedback on the reliability, ease of use, and overall satisfaction of the product.

Keep in mind that some reviews may be biased or influenced by personal preferences, so be sure to look for a balance of positive and negative reviews to make an informed decision.

Additionally, ratings on reputable climbing gear websites can give you a sense of the overall popularity and reputation of the product in the climbing community.

User reviews and ratings should be an important part of your research when selecting the best belay device for your climbing needs.

How to Care and Maintain the Belaying Device?

Belaying devices are reliable and durable. They wear out slowly with time.

It means you can use the device for years without replacing it, provided you don’t damage it in an accident or for poor upkeep.

Follow the below tips to keep the device in good condition all the time.

  • Store the gear in a safe place to avoid damage. Keep the equipment in a place with good ventilation but without sunlight.
  • Do not put the gear in damp areas where mold grows. Also, avoid moisture to lengthen the life span of the equipment.
  • Check for rusting or salt build-up if you climb/rappel close to the sea. Humidity can damage metal climbing gear, including belaying devices.
  • Wash the equipment using clean and warm water after returning from a salty climbing tenure.
  • Get rid of oil deposits and dirt using a small brush.
  • Use general lubricants to lubricate the equipment.
  • Never use traditional home cleaning solutions. Also, do not use a pressure washer for cleaning your belay devices, especially if they’ve moving parts.

Best Belay Devices FAQ

What are the top-rated belay devices for rock climbing?

Some of the top-rated belay devices for rock climbing include the Petzl GriGri+, Black Diamond ATC Guide, Edelrid Mega Jul, and Mammut Smart 2.

How does the GriGri+ compare to other popular assisted braking devices?

The GriGri+ is considered to be one of the most reliable and versatile assisted braking devices on the market.

It offers smoother and more controlled lowering and has a wider range of rope diameters that it can handle compared to other popular devices like the Petzl Grigri 2 and Black Diamond ATC Pilot.

Additionally, the GriGri+ has an anti-panic feature that engages if the user pulls too hard on the handle, which can prevent accidents in emergency situations.

Overall, the GriGri+ is highly regarded for its safety features, ease of use, and versatility.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a tube-style belay device versus an assisted braking device?

Advantages of tube-style belay device:

  1. Generally less expensive than assisted braking devices.
  2. Lightweight and easy to carry.
  3. More versatile as they can be used for a wider range of rope diameters.
  4. Greater control over the rope during belaying, allowing for a smoother and more precise belay.

Disadvantages of tube-style belay device:

  1. Requires greater skill and attention from the belayer as they are solely responsible for controlling the rope.
  2. Can be more difficult to catch falls as the belayer needs to pay close attention to the rope tension and movement.
  3. Increased risk of “rope slip” in the event of a fall if the belayer is not skilled or attentive enough.

Advantages of using an assisted braking device:

  1. Increased safety – Assisted braking devices can help prevent falls and reduce the risk of injury.
  2. Easier to belay – Assisted braking devices require less force and effort to hold a fall.
  3. Versatility – Many assisted braking devices are compatible with a variety of rope diameters, making them suitable for a broad range of climbing and belaying situations.
  4. Smooth lowering – Assisted braking devices allow for smooth and controlled lowering of a climber.

Disadvantages of using an assisted braking device:

  1. Cost-Assisted braking devices can be more expensive than traditional belay devices.
  2. Weight – Some assisted braking devices are heavier than traditional belay devices.

Are there any belay devices specifically designed for use in ice climbing?

Yes, there are several belay devices specifically designed for use in ice climbing, such as the Petzl Reverso Ice, Black Diamond ATC Pilot, and Mammut Smart Alpine.

These devices are designed to work well in cold and icy conditions, with features such as grooves or teeth for additional friction and control on icy ropes.

Can you recommend a belay device that works well for both sport and trad climbing?

Yes, the Petzl Grigri is a belay device that works well for both sport and trad climbing.

It is an assisted braking device that helps catch falls and is easy to use for both experienced and beginner climbers.

Additionally, it has a durable and compact design that makes it easy to carry and use in various climbing situations.

How important is the weight and size of a belay device when choosing the best one for your needs?

The weight and size of a belay device can be important factors to consider when choosing the best one for your needs.

The size of the device can affect how comfortable and easy it is to handle while belaying, while the weight can impact how portable and convenient it is to carry with you on climbing trips.

However, the most important factor in choosing a belay device should be its functionality, safety features, and compatibility with your intended use and equipment.

What safety features should you look for when selecting a belay device for multi-pitch climbing?

When selecting a belay device for multi-pitch climbing, it is important to look for the following safety features:

  1. Auto-locking mechanism: This feature allows the belay device to lock off automatically in case of a fall or sudden weight on the rope, providing an added layer of safety.
  2. Guide mode: This feature allows the belay device to be used in guide mode, where the device can be anchored to the anchor point and used to bring up a second climber, also providing increased safety.
  3. Rope diameter compatibility: Make sure the belay device is compatible with the diameter of the rope you will be using, as using the wrong size can compromise safety.
  4. Durability: It should be made of high-quality materials and be durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of multi-pitch climbing.

In conclusion, choosing the right belay device is crucial for any climber, whether you are a beginner or an experienced climber.

The devices we have discussed in this post are some of the best available in the market today, each with its unique features and advantages.

When selecting one, consider your style of climbing, personal preferences, and budget.

Remember to always prioritize safety and practice proper technique when using a belay device to ensure a successful and enjoyable climbing experience.