For many climbers, belaying is an important part of staying safe on the rocks that requires you put an extremely high amount of trust in both your climbing partner and the gear you use. But you can’t rely on one without the other. You may have the best climbing partner in the world, but if your equipment fails, it puts you both in danger of injuries. The best delay device is a crucial piece of equipment that you’ll need to find for your climb.
A top rated climbing belay device should always be functional, durable, and reliable. Your rope should be securely held within the device, so you maintain complete control. If you’re new to climbing or you’re scouring the market for a replacement, you may need help deciding on what makes a quality assisted belay device.
We want to help you boost your confidence, so we have made a list of the ten best belay devices and included our comprehensive buying guide. With our top picks and guide, you won’t waste any time with finding quality climbing gear.
How To Choose A Belay Device – Buying Guide
Assisted Braking Devices
One big decision you will have to make when you’re looking for a new belay device is whether you want it to feature assisted braking. The main difference between a belay device with assisted braking is that you’ll have to do less work to slow down or stop the rope.
An assisted belay device will have a rotatable cam piece, which controls the speed of the rope. If the rope moves slowly, it can easily pass by the piece. If the rope starts to speed up, the rotatable cam will start to pinch the rope, which causes it to slow down. There are also passive assisted braking devices, which use the shape of the design to slow the rope instead of a moving piece.
But it is also important that only expert and experienced climbers use auto locking belay devices. Beginner and intermediate belayers need to learn how to feel the rope and properly stop it without relying brakes for assistance. This ensures that should the device ever fail, the belayer still has the proper knowledge on how to correctly stop a fall and manage the ropes.
Tubular Style Devices
Opposite to an assisted belay device, a tubular style rock climbing belay device uses a sharp edge to slow down or stop the rope. For beginners, the best climbing belay device will be tubular because it allows them to learn how to manage the ropes and stop falls. These devices are often double slotted, which also means that they can manage different types of climbs.
There should also be a strong loop on the device, which is used as an anchor point to hold the device up so that the ropes can run through. The anchor point also allows you to belay from above your partner, rather than always from below.
You may see a self belay device in the shape of a figure 8, which is becoming less common nowadays. The figure 8 has no moving parts and does not have a sharp edge, but rather relies on how the rope threads through the shape to slow its speed. The figure 8 auto lock belay device is easier to use when descending and are also suitable for use as a self belay device.
The most excellent belay device will be invaluable to you, but that doesn’t mean that all designs have the same price. Most belay devices will range from less than $20 dollars or up to $200 dollars. It will be up to you to decide how much you want to spend. But do keep in mind that different features will affect the overall cost.
Auto block belay devices or ones that feature an assisted braking system will be more expensive. The extra features cost more, and they are often built for professional use. Tubular style devices will cost less because they have a minimalistic design and are great for beginners who aren’t looking to invest a lot of money into their gear.
The best climbing belay device will always catch a fall. But the catch determines how skinny the rope can be before the device might fail. Climbers are using skinnier ropes nowadays and that means that manufacturers and brands need to be certain that their devices will catch the rope.
Ropes are measured in diameter by millimeters and the most excellent belay device will be versatile for use with various ropes. A top rated climbing belay device once was only be able to catch a rope that is 9 millimeters in diameter, but with current advancements some devices can stop ropes as skinny a 7 millimeters in diameter.
Automatic belay devices will usually catch ropes faster due to the assisted braking, while auto block belay devices will be slower because they use manual and specific positions to successfully apply the brakes.
The best climbing belay device will always be useful. They are, after all, designed to keep you safe and prevent accidents. But you should always look for a belay device that has the features you need and one that matches your skill level. If you purchase an assisted belay device but are a beginner to the sport, it actually won’t be as useful to use as purchasing a tubular rock climbing belay device.
Belay device reviews can help you determine how useful a specific design would be for your needs so that you can device whether to make a purchase or keep looking.
A top rated climbing belay device should always be lightweight so that you aren’t weighed down by unnecessary pounds or having to lug around a bulky object. High quality metal materials will reduce the weight of the device and make it easier to carry. Less weight means easier transportation.
Q: What Is An ATC Belay Device?
ATC stand for Air Traffic Controller and it is brand specific belay device. Black Diamond makes these types of devices and it is a tubular style with a greater surface area. The larger surface area helps disperse the heat from the friction. An ATC auto block belay device also uses a sharper angle to stop the rope.
Q: How Does A Belay Device Work?
A belay device is attached to your ropes and works as a brake to slow down the speed of the rope while you are descending on a climb. The device uses friction. To stop the ropes, though automatic belay devices do have an additional braking feature. Belay devices are essential for climber’s safety.
Q: Can You Rappel With A Belay Device?
Yes, the best belay device can be used interchangeably, which means that its suitable for use with rappelling. It is important that you learn how to properly use belay device for rappelling because it is not the same as other types of descents.
Q: What Is Belay In Climbing?
Belaying only means that you are uses various technique to apply tension and friction on the rope to manage the speed of a climber as they descend and stop falls. You can use a self belay device and control your own speed, or you can use a partner system and rely on another person to assist you in controlling the ropes.
Q: How To Care for A Belay Device?
The best climbing belay device will be built tough, which means that you shouldn’t ever experience it breaking apart. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take good care of it. You should always keep the belay device in a safe place and avoid hitting it against the rocks. You can wipe them down with warm water and soap if they get dirty and allow them to airdry.
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When it comes to your safety and that of your partners, you should always take the time to find quality gear. A top rated climbing belay device is crucial for your climbing trips because it can save your life or stop grievous injury. With the best belay device, you’ll be confidently navigating the rocks knowing that you’re secure and supported at all times.
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Do you own one of the automatic belay devises that made it onto our list? Let us know which top rated climbing belay device your favorite is in the comments section below.