May 12, 2022

GriGri vs. ATC: Which Device to Use and When?

by Bernice

Having a great belay device is an essential aspect when climbing. A good belay (rappel) device is like having a good car.

Both, GriGri and ATC belay devices are designed to allow a person to climb a rope from one spot to another, and they are also designed to allow the person to rappel down the rope and be belayed.

GriGri and ATC are easy to use and improve the quality of the belaying process.

The key advantage of using a GriGri for rappelling is the ability to lock down on the rope without continual stress from the belayer, allowing a climber to go up a rope at a more comfortable angle.

In contrast, when rappelling with ATC, it holds a climber while they ascend or descend the wall, thus belaying a climber to prevent a probable fall and rappelling down the route.

The use of belay devices such as GriGri vs. ATC in climbing, rappelling, and belaying activities has become popular with climbers and is a great innovation for climbing.


Table of Contents

GriGri vs. ATC: Which Device to Use and When?

There are situations where you will have to use both devices—GriGri and ATC. We will explain which device to use and when to use them.

ATC Devices

Black Diamond Equipment - ATC-XP - Black
  • High-friction mode offers 3 times greater hold and stopping power than regular friction mode
  • Machined windows through device for weight savings
  • Durable cable holds its shape and resists getting caught up between ropes

Last update on 2022-10-04 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

ATCs, also called Air Traffic Controllers, are designed for belayers who need more control and stability, while GriGri is designed for climbers who need more control and stability in the belay position.

Using ATC is a bit faster, but it takes more energy and is also more difficult to reset. The ATC is more complicated to use.

It may be more effective in certain situations, but it may also be more difficult to reset and more likely to take more energy.

GriGri Devices

PETZL GRIGRI + Belay Device with Cam-Assisted Blocking and Anti-Panic Handle, Suitable for Learners and Intensive Use - Orange
  • PROGRESSIVE DESCENT CONTROL: 3:1 mechanical advantage of the camming mechanism helps smoothly control the rope and reduce lowering efforts regardless of rope diameter.
  • CAM-ASSISTED BLOCKING: Cam-assisted blocking ensures a comfortable belay—when the climber falls or weights the rope—the cam in the device automatically cinches down to arrest the rope. Compatible with 8.5 to 11 mm dynamic single ropes.
  • ANTI-PANIC HANDLE: If the user pulls too hard on the handle, the anti-panic function engages, stopping the climber's descent. Great for newer belayers and partners with large weight differences.

Last update on 2022-10-04 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

GriGri is easier to set up and reset, and it is designed for better control of belays. GriGri is more stable than the ATC.

The ATC tends to make a person pull on the rope, making it more difficult to reset the rope and increasing the risk of injury.

The GriGri is simple to use and may be more effective in certain situations. It is more versatile and is more user-friendly.

The main advantage of purchasing a GriGri is its capability to seal itself on the rope without continuous straining from the climber, allowing the climber to go up the cord at a more comfortable angle.

GriGri vs. ATC
GriGri vs. ATC: Which Device to Use and When?

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ATC and GriGri Use: Indoors vs. Outdoors

The choice you make should be guided by whether you want to use the devices outdoors or indoors. While used indoors, the safety and efficacy of both devices are almost similar.

However, one of these devices has a distinct difference when climbing outdoors. These devices provide climbers with the utility they want to ensure belayers are well secured when performing their art indoors.

Although the ATC belayers are the same as the GriGri belayers, there are some differences.

The GriGri has a simpler, more ergonomic design and does not need to have a pulley system attached to it.

It also has a larger capacity. It is more difficult to belay with a GriGri device when used indoors.

The GriGri is more expensive, but it is the most versatile. GriGri has more functionality, is more durable, and is more comfortable.

The ATC is a great belayer choice for outdoor activities, but it is not great for climbing indoors.

Both GriGri and ATC have the functionality necessary for climbing outdoors, but each offers different advantages.

GriGri has the advantage of being more comfortable and easier to use indoors, but ATC is preferred for outdoor climbing.

ATCs are usually more durable than GriGri’s and are commonly preferred by mountain climbers because of their lightweight.

As a result, they can navigate and move for long periods without fatigue. Climbers can also use ATCs regularly since they are more comfortable wearing them.

ATCs have various features that make them excellent for climbing outdoors and are more comfortable than other belay devices.

They also have a larger capacity, a rope that can be attached to them, and a pulley system that can be used indoors.

ATC is more versatile than GriGri for outdoor climbing. It has a smaller size, is easy to carry, and is more comfortable to use ATC is also significantly more durable than GriGri.

Can You Rappel from a Top Rope with a Grigri

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Price and Variety

Variety

If checking on variety, these GriGri and ATC are an obvious pick. Both are successful, but GriGri’s model ability to blend into the belaying makes it appealing to climbers who enjoy that outdoor experience.

There are two primary varieties of GriGri: The first GriGri and its successor, the GriGri 2; the GriGri 2 improves on the first model in several ways, including an adjustable mount.

Sale
PETZL Grigri - Assurer
1,366 Reviews
PETZL Grigri - Assurer
  • rope release and lock from falls are done using standard safety techniques; always keep your hand on the brake side of the rope.
  • Convenience and safety, thanks to the assisted brake: during a fall, the insurer holds the locking tip of the rope, the cam rotates and tightens the rope, increasing the braking until the rope stops running.
  • Compatible with 8.5-11mm dynamic simple strings, optimized for 8.9-10.5mm
PETZL GRIGRI Belay Device Gray
387 Reviews
PETZL GRIGRI Belay Device Gray
  • Belay device with assisted braking for 8.9 to 11 mm rope
  • Rope compatibility : For use with single ropes between 8.9 and 11 mm in diameter
  • Material(s) : aluminum side plates, stainless steel cam and friction plate, reinforced nylon handle

Last update on 2022-10-04 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

This mount allows the GriGri 2 to be used on more challenging rocks, making it appropriate for climbing. Climbers can finish the essential climbs far more effortlessly because they are lighter in weight.

ATC also is available in two models, the ATC Guide and the ATC-XP. There are some distinctions between the two devices.

The guide, for example, includes an additional loop that enables belaying from the anchor while in an autoblock arrangement.

Furthermore, it is intended to operate best with heavier ropes, whereas the XP is more efficient with thinner ropes.

Black Diamond Equipment - ATC-XP - Blue
  • High-friction mode offers 3 times greater hold and stopping power than regular friction mode
  • Machined windows through device for weight savings
  • Durable cable holds its shape and resists getting caught up between ropes
Black Diamond ATC-Guide Rapel/Belay Device, Anthracite, One Size
240 Reviews
Black Diamond ATC-Guide Rapel/Belay Device, Anthracite, One Size
  • Multiple friction modes for belay and rappel
  • Machined windows through device for weight savings
  • Auto-block release hole accepts small carabiners

Last update on 2022-10-04 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

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Price

The GriGri devices are currently priced between $80 and $120 or between 70 and 105 euros. At the same time, ATC devices are priced around $40 or 36 euros.

GriGri vs. ATC: Safety Consideration

GriGri offers a great safety solution, but the ATC (absolute trust in the device) is a more comprehensive solution.

The ATC is suitable for all outdoor activities and is not only ideal for climbers. GriGri is the easier to use of the two. GriGri is a much more comfortable device and has an adjustable mount.

In the above example, GriGri is the more popular belay device. This is because it is more likely to be used by someone more experienced with the sport.

The GriGri 2 may be the better option if you are a beginner because it is lighter and easily maneuverable.

The ATC is more universal, but it is also more challenging to use. GriGri has an adjustable mount, which makes it easier to carry.

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ATC or GriGri for Beginners?

If you are a beginner in outdoor climbing and are looking for a device to learn the sport, the ATC is better for beginner climbers. It is lighter than the GriGri.

It’s also more versatile and has an adjustable mount, making it easier to carry. The ATC is a general-purpose device, thus favorable for an outdoor climbing beginner.

The GriGri is a far superior option for climbers looking to enhance climbing abilities. GriGri is an excellent choice for advanced climbers. It enables climbers to accomplish challenging ascents alongside regular day climbs.

It is more beneficial to the back. It offers a diverse range of climbing opportunities. The ATC is not ideal for long or regular lead climbing as the GriGri.

That being the case, experienced climbers may venture to dangerous heights. Scaling a challenging wall is much simpler if your belay device and technique are top-notch.

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GriGri vs. ATC in Terms of Comfort

The ATC has a comfort rating of 5/5. The ATC is far more comfortable for the climber. The ATC is also lighter than the GriGri 2.

The ATC has a larger mount that is a bit comfortable. The mount is also adjustable, enabling a climber to change grips on the fly. The mount is also very customizable and can be used in many different configurations.

Compared to the ATC, the GriGri feels much better. The GriGri is a more versatile belay device. It also features an adjustable frame. The mount is also very customizable and can be used in several configurations.

You may also use a GriGri to take breaks when climbing. You may take a little break while route-setting using GriGri.

In contrast, the belayer can take a breather. In these regards, the GriGri is unquestionably more practical and comfier.

Nonetheless, the ATC’s lightweight and gentle falls must not be overlooked. For this reason, let us choose to link the two goods.

GriGri will be the preferred device, but each climber has to decide the preferred device that is most convenient for their type of climbing.

GriGri vs. ATC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Is GriGri safer?

Yes. Thanks to their auto-lock feature, grigris are much safer compared to ATCs.

Can you belay with an ATC?

Yes. ATC is a self-braking belay device, and like the ATC XP, the ATC Guide features grooves that surge friction when belaying.

Can you rappel with the ATC pilot?

Yes. While ATC pilots aren’t engineered for rappelling, they can execute single-rope rappels effortlessly.

Can you rappel with a GriGri?

Yes. A grigri can execute single strand rappels.

What does ATC belay stand for?

Typically, ATC stands for Air Traffic Controller.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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