Essential Belay Devices for Rock Climbing

Are you overwhelmed by the extensive selection of belay devices for rock climbing? I completely understand; I’ve been there too. After thorough research and testing various pieces of equipment, I’ve pinpointed the essential aspects to consider when choosing the top belay device that ensures both safety and ease of use.

Get ready–this guide will steer you towards your ideal rock climbing companion.

Key Takeaways

  • There are three main types of belay devices for rock climbing: tubular, assisted-braking, and figure 8. Each type has its own advantages and is suitable for different climbing scenarios.
  • Key factors to consider when choosing a belay device include its catch and bite capabilities, lowering/rappelling function, ability to feed slack easily, weight and bulkiness, and whether or not it has an auto-block feature.
  • Some top belay devices in the market include the Petzl GriGri+, Black Diamond ATC Guide, Trango Vergo, Edelrid Mega Jul, and Wild Country Revo. These devices offer enhanced safety features and reliable performance for climbers of all skill levels.

Types of Belay Devices

There are three main types of belay devices used in rock climbing: tubular belay devices, assisted-braking belay devices, and figure 8 belay devices.

Tubular Belay Devices

Tubular belay devices form the cornerstone of modern rock climbing safety equipment. They’re known for their simplicity and versatility, making them an ideal choice for beginner-friendly belay device.

Imagine a small, lightweight piece of gear that lets you safely control rope friction during climbs or repels – that’s exactly what these devices offer. Typically compatible with single, twin and half ropes, tubular style is well-suited to handle a wide range of climbing scenarios from gym sport routes to multipitch trad adventures.

Not only this, but many models feature a guide mode which allows direct anchoring systems making it perfect for long ascents.

Assisted-Braking Belay Devices

Assisted-braking belay devices are an essential piece of equipment for rock climbers who want an added layer of safety and control. These devices are designed to automatically catch the rope in the event of a fall, providing a significant advantage over other types of belay devices.

They use advanced technology that increases friction on the rope when it is weighted, allowing for quick braking by simply holding onto the device with your hand. Some popular assisted-braking belay devices include the Petzl GriGri and GriGri++, as well as the Trango Vergo and Edelrid Mega Jul.

These devices offer peace of mind, especially for beginners or those climbing longer routes where endurance can become a factor. When choosing an assisted-braking belay device, consider factors such as weight and bulk, ease of feeding slack, and compatibility with different rope diameters.

Figure 8 Belay Device

When it comes to rock climbing, the Figure 8 Belay Device is a reliable and popular choice. This belay device gets its name from its shape, which resembles the number 8. It is commonly used for single-pitch climbs or top-rope setups.

The Figure 8 Belay Device provides excellent friction on the rope, allowing for controlled descent during rappelling or lowering a climber. Its simplicity makes it easy to use and understand, making it a great option for beginners.

One of the key advantages of the Figure 8 Belay Device is that it can accommodate a range of rope diameters, making it versatile and suitable for different types of climbing ropes. It also has fewer moving parts compared to other belay devices, reducing the risk of mechanical failure.

However, it’s important to note that the Figure 8 Belay Device does not have an assisted-braking feature like some other devices on the market. This means that climbers must rely solely on their hand grip strength to control rope tension and prevent excessive slack.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Belay Device

When choosing a belay device, there are several key features to consider. These include the catch and bite, which determines how well the device holds the rope during a fall; the lowering/rappelling function, which allows for smooth descents; feeding slack easily and efficiently; considering the weight and bulk of the device for portability; and whether or not it has an auto-block feature for added safety.

Catch and Bite

As a rock climber, having a belay device with a reliable catch and bite is absolutely essential for keeping you and your climbing partner safe. The catch refers to the ability of the belay device to hold the rope in place when it’s loaded with tension, preventing any unexpected slips or falls.

The bite, on the other hand, is the amount of friction created by the device on the rope when it’s being fed out or pulled in. A strong catch and bite are important for maintaining control during both lead climbing and top rope situations.

When choosing a belay device, look for ones that offer smooth and consistent catches without excessive slippage, ensuring maximum safety while you’re conquering those challenging routes.


When it comes to rock climbing, a belay device that offers smooth and controlled lowering and rappelling is essential. This feature allows climbers to safely descend from the top of their climb or lower a partner down.

A good belay device should provide enough friction on the rope to control the speed of descent while also making it easy to release slack gradually.

Some belay devices excel in this aspect, offering a quick and reliable braking system that ensures a safe descent every time. Whether you’re new to rock climbing or an experienced climber, having a belay device with efficient lowering and rappelling capabilities can make all the difference in your climbing experience.

Feeding Slack

Feeding slack is an important aspect of using a belay device in rock climbing. It refers to the ability of the device to smoothly release rope as the climber moves upwards or sideways. This is crucial for maintaining a good amount of tension on the rope while still allowing the climber freedom to move.

A belay device that can efficiently and easily feed slack makes it easier for both climbers, ensuring a smooth and safe ascent. Some devices have additional features like assisted braking or auto block which enhance their capability to feed slack effectively.

Weight and Bulk

One important factor to consider when choosing a belay device for rock climbing is its weight and bulk. A lightweight and compact belay device can make a significant difference, especially during long climbs or when carrying multiple pieces of gear.

Nobody wants unnecessary weight dragging them down while they’re navigating their way up the rock face. Additionally, a smaller size means it takes up less space on your harness or gear sling, leaving more room for other essential equipment.

So, finding a belay device that strikes the right balance between weight and functionality is crucial for any climber looking to optimize their performance on the wall.

Auto Block

I love using auto block belay devices when I’m rock climbing. These nifty tools provide an extra layer of safety by automatically locking off the rope in case of a fall or if you need to rest while belaying.

With an auto block device, you can easily hold and secure the rope without worrying about it slipping through your hands. It’s incredibly helpful during long climbs or when managing multiple ropes.

Some popular auto block belay devices include the Petzl GriGri, Black Diamond ATC Guide, and Trango Vergo. The convenience and added security that these devices offer make them essential gear for any rock climber.

Top Belay Devices for Rock Climbing

When it comes to top belay devices for rock climbing, the Petzl GriGri, Petzl GriGri+, Black Diamond ATC Guide, Trango Vergo, Edelrid Mega Jul, and Wild Country Revo are all highly recommended.

Petzl GriGri

I absolutely love using the Petzl GriGri for rock climbing. It is an assisted-braking belay device that provides excellent control and safety when belaying a climber. The GriGri features a camming mechanism that automatically catches the rope in the event of a fall, providing added security for both the climber and belayer.

Its smooth and consistent rope feed allows for seamless handling, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced climbers alike. The compact design of the GriGri also makes it easy to carry and use during multi-pitch climbs or at the gym.

With its reliability, ease of use, and enhanced braking power, the Petzl GriGri has become an essential tool in my climbing gear arsenal.

Petzl GriGri+

The Petzl GriGri+ is a highly regarded belay device that combines top-notch safety features with user-friendly design. With its assisted-braking mechanism, it offers reliable rope control and quick braking action, giving climbers peace of mind during their ascent.

The GriGri+ is also equipped with an anti-panic handle that helps prevent accidents caused by improper use or panic pulls. Additionally, the stainless steel construction ensures durability and longevity, making it an excellent investment for both beginners and experienced climbers alike.

Black Diamond ATC Guide

The Black Diamond ATC Guide is a versatile and reliable belay device that has become a staple in the climbing community. This tubular-style belay device offers smooth rope control and excellent friction, making it ideal for both beginner and experienced climbers.

With its lightweight design, the ATC Guide is easy to carry on long climbs or multi-pitch routes. It also features guide mode capabilities, allowing you to easily transition between belaying a leader and bringing up a second climber.

The simple yet effective design of the Black Diamond ATC Guide makes it an essential piece of rock climbing gear for any adventure on the walls.

Trango Vergo

I recently got my hands on the Trango Vergo belay device and I have to say, it’s quickly become one of my favorites. This assisted-braking belay device is designed for both single and double ropes, making it ideal for multipitch climbing.

The Vergo has a unique design that allows for smooth rope feeding during lead climbs, giving me confidence in my ability to catch falls easily.

What sets the Trango Vergo apart is its auto-blocking feature. With a simple flick of the lever, I can switch from a regular belay mode to an auto-block mode for bringing up heavy loads or when I need extra security while rappelling.

The ergonomic shape fits comfortably in my hand and provides a solid grip, ensuring quick braking action when needed. Plus, its durable construction means this belay device will last me through many climbing adventures.

Edelrid Mega Jul

The Edelrid Mega Jul is a versatile belay device that offers smooth handling and excellent control. It features two different braking modes, allowing climbers to choose between assisted-braking or standard rope friction depending on their preference and the situation.

With its compact size and lightweight design, the Mega Jul is easy to carry around and won’t weigh you down during your climbing adventures. Its auto-blocking function also adds an extra layer of safety, making it ideal for beginners or those looking for added peace of mind while belaying.

Overall, the Edelrid Mega Jul is a reliable and user-friendly belay device that will enhance your rock climbing experience without any unnecessary complications.

Wild Country Revo

I absolutely love using the Wild Country Revo belay device for rock climbing. It is incredibly user-friendly and provides an extra layer of safety during climbs. The unique design allows for smooth rope handling, and it automatically locks off in case of a fall or when too much force is applied to the rope.

This makes it perfect for beginners who might not have mastered proper belaying techniques yet. Additionally, the Revo has a built-in panic brake that engages if the belayer pulls back on the lever too hard, providing an additional level of protection against accidents.

Its ease-of-use and impressive safety features make the Wild Country Revo an essential tool for any rock climber’s gear collection.


In conclusion, choosing the right belay device is crucial for rock climbing safety and efficiency. Depending on your needs and preferences, there are various types of belay devices available, including tubular, assisted-braking, and figure 8 devices.

Factors to consider when selecting a belay device include catch and bite capabilities, lowering/rappelling features, slack feeding abilities, weight and bulkiness, as well as auto-blocking functionality.

Some top belay devices in the market include the Petzl GriGri+, Black Diamond ATC Guide, Trango Vergo, Edelrid Mega Jul, and Wild Country Revo. With these essential tools by your side, you can enjoy a secure and enjoyable climbing experience.


1. What are the essential belay devices for rock climbing?

The essential belay devices for rock climbing include the tubular belay device, assisted braking belay device, figure-eight descender, and auto-locking belay device.

2. How does a tubular belay device work?

A tubular belay device uses friction to control the rope during a climb or descent. The rope is fed through the device’s tube in a specific manner that creates enough friction to hold a fall or slow down a descent.

3. What is an assisted braking belay device?

An assisted braking belay device is designed to automatically lock off when it detects sudden tension on the rope, providing an added level of safety during climbs. This type of device can help prevent falls by immediately stopping or slowing down the rope if the climber loses control.

4. How do auto-locking belay devices work?

Auto-locking belay devices have mechanisms that automatically lock onto the rope in case of sudden tension or when no force is applied by the user, providing additional security during climbs. These devices require less manual effort from the belayer compared to other types of devices and offer increased peace of mind while climbing.

Calvin Rivers

Hey, I’m Calvin Rivers, a climbing veteran with 10+ years on crags and walls around the world. I can’t wait for you to explore our site and fall in love with the outdoors just like I have.

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