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Belay device shop

Whether in the gym, outdoor sport climbing or alpine climbing: Belay devices are there to break a climber's fall. Climbing without a belay device is almost unthinkable today, unless one is climbing free solo, belaying with an HMS or other old-fashioned belaying and rappelling techniques.

Belay devices - constant climbing companions

Tubes, ATCs, Grigris, Jules, Reversos - no matter what their name is, belay devices are constant companions when climbing. In alpine terrain Tubes and ATCs are primarily used. The Petzl Grigri, Trango Cinch and the Edelrid Eddy are more commonly seen among sport climbers. Whatever device one prefers, it is always good to be able to belay or rappel using the tried and true HMS and a belay carabiner - this old and simple belay technique is a perfectly adequate substitute in the event of a lost or broken belay device.

Tube, ATC or Plate

Tube belay devices work by producing friction between the device and the carabiner. Conventional Tubes are easy to use, hard to break, and offer the benefit of still working fairly well even when the rope is threaded in the wrong direction. Their disadvantage is that they can only be used while attached to the climbing harness, as opposed to an anchor, making it extremely difficult to belay a following climber. Tubes with an additional plate function like the Black Diamond ATC Guide, Edelrid Kilojule, or Petzl Reverso 4 solve this problem and are thus well-suited for multi-pitch climbs. Their benefits are many: Simple use; light weight; compact size; pleasant handling; suitable for single, twin and double ropes; produce few kinks in the rope. The only downside to this type of belay device is that their braking force depends on the direction of the fall, and that a dummy-runner at a higher anchor point is required for belaying a following climber.

Semi-automatic belay devices

Those who have belayed a climbing partner while they extensively checked out their route know how nice a semi-automatic belay device can be. The device's locking mechanism fixates the rope as soon as there is tension on it, meaning that the belayer does not have continually keep the pressure on with their brake hand while the climber is hanging. While the locking mechanism is fail-safe in the event of a fall, there are numerous other things that can go wrong with mechanic belay devices. Threading the rope in the wrong direction, for example, will cause the device to fail (unlike Tubes and other simpler counterparts). Semi-automatic belay devices are not excessively difficult to use, but do require some practice to ensure safety. Since semi-auto devices are heavier, more prone to incorrect use, and can only be used with single ropes, they are most suitable for indoor and outdoor sport climbing and toproping.

Buying a belay device

Still don't own your belay device of choice? In the Bergzeit Online Shop you can find all types of belay devices and belay carabiners, most likely including the one you are looking for! Check out online climbing forums and the Bergzeit blog for carabiner and belay device test reports. At Bergzeit you can buy comfortably and safely online.

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Belay, Rappel Devices

(63 articles)
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Y&Y Plasfun Safety Goggles Y&Y

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Grigri + Belay Device Petzl

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Grigri + Belay Device Petzl

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Belay device with assisted braking and stainless steel cam - designed for sport climbing pros and newbies

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Grigri + Belay Device Petzl

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Pivot Belay Device DMM

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Pivot Belay Device DMM

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Lifeguard Belay Device Mad Rock

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ATX-XP Black Diamond

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ATC Belay Device Black Diamond

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Jul 2 Belay Edelrid

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Y&Y Plasfun Safety Goggles Y&Y

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ATC-Sport Belay Device Black Diamond

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ATX-XP Black Diamond

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Verso belay / rappel device Petzl

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Belay Device Buyer's Guide Belay Device Buyer's Guide

Belay Device Buyer's Guide

The options for belaying during mountaineering and climbing are more diverse than ever. Here you will find an overview of the most important belay devices with their various uses.

  • HMS carabiner
  • figure eight rappel devices
  • belay tubes
  • self-braking belay devices

Belaying with a Munter Hitch

HMS carabiner Today there many kinds of belay devices for different uses, but the Munter hitch is still the go-to belay technique when all else fails. The only piece of equipment needed for this versatile and simple belay technique is an HMS carabiner; a locking carabiner that has enough room to support a Munter hitch. The rope is simply laid into the carabiner as a Munter hitch and can then be used to belay climbing partners, whether they are lead climbing, following or toproping.

Advantages

  • high friction, i.e. braking power
  • suitable for belaying lead climbers as well as following climbers, and can be used for belaying from the harness as well as from an anchor
  • minimal gear needed (1 HMS carabiner)
  • rope slack can easily be taken up or doled aut
  • Munter hitch is easy to learn

Disadvantages

  • rope wears more quickly when lowering, due to high friction
  • rope may become twisted during belaying which makes the climbing rope more difficult to handle
TIP: Learn Munter hitch first

Novice climbers and belayers should learn to belay with the Munter hitch first, and to rappel with a figure eight.

Only once one can safely use both techniques and belay devices should one move on to others; otherwise it is not possible use them as a fall-back in an emergency or the event a lost/dropped/broken belay device.

Intermediate and advanced climbers rarely use the Munter hitch to belay lead climbers, since its high friction makes it difficult to dole out rope quickly.

Belaying with a figure eight

Figure eight rapell/belay device The figure eight is used both as a rappelling device and a belay device for climbing. It has less braking power than a Munter hitch, but also gets the rope less twisted. For belaying and rappelling the figure eight is attached to the climbing harness via an HMS carabiner.

Figure eight shapes

  • ring-shaped: a large and small ring are welded together; this shape is most common
  • V-shaped: the V-shape is designed to make the rope run more smoothly, as well as give it more brake power
  • angular shape: angular figure eights are designed to prevent the rope from flipping over when threaded as a builder's knot

Dangers when belaying with a figure eight

Since the figure eight is only clipped into the HMS carabiner and remains loose, it is possible that it could move and unclip or damage the carabiner.

TIP: Figure eight fixation
Fixate the figure eight using a small rubber ring on the HMS carabiner

Generally figure eights are recommended for more experienced climbers. Novices will have an easier time with a belay tube.

Belay tubes

Belay tube Belay tubes are the most popular belay devices today, due their ease of use and simple construction.

Since they create a relatively small amount of friction, belay tubes do not have as much braking power as other belay devices. While somewhat more power must be applied with the brake hand, the advantage of less friction provides the advantage of the rope running more smoothly and letting the belayer precisely control the speed of the rope.

Belay tubes are highly versatile and can be used to belay a lead climber, while toproping, to rappel, and are suited for both half and twin ropes. Belaying a following climber from an anchor on a multi-pitch route is only possible with certain tube models. The reason for this is that the tube would be hanging upside down and the rope therefor pulled upward to break the fall, which is counterintuitive to standard belay technique.

The belay tube models ATC-Guide (Black Diamond Equipment) and Reverso (Petzl) are exceptions, since they feature an additional eyelet that is designed for belaying a following climber.

Most popular belay tubes

  • Black Diamond ATC (Air Traffic Controller): ideal for intermediate climbers
  • Black Diamond ATC XP: suited for novice climbers as well, since it has both a low-friction and high-friction mode
  • Black Diamond ATC Guide: suited for all levels, but is ideal for advanced climbers and multi-pitch use; a highly versatile belay device
TIP: Belay tubes

The ATC XP and ATC Guide are great all-round belay devices for all levels of climbers.

If one is not satisfied with the amount of friction the tube provides, an easy way to increase it is to clip a second carabiner into the device.

Make sure to check older belay tubes regularly for sharp edges; these can be created by the rope over time and can compromise safety.

Self-braking belay devices

Self-braking belay device Self-braking belay devices feature an integrated braking mechanism that stops the rope's movement when it is weighted. This feature makes in theory makes it possible to let go of the end of the rope used for braking, which should however never be done. Redundancy increases safety (as does paying attention).

The most commonly used self-braking belay device on the market it the Petzl Gri-Gri.

Though this type of belay device can be highly useful for sport climbing, one should always keep in mind that more complex technology provides more opportunities for things to go wrong. Self-braking belay devices for example only function as they should when the rope is threaded in the correct direction and when it is used correctly. For this reason it is highly recommended to have someone show you how to use it properly and to practice in low-risk situations first.

This belay device is best suited for toproping and long hangtimes while checking out challenging routes. Rapelling with it is possible, but only using one rope.

Advantages

  • increased safety thanks to self-braking mechanism
  • prevention of rope becoming kinked and twisted
  • precise speed control
  • can be used for lead climbing, toproping and rapelling
  • well-suited for situations where the belayer is lighter than the climber
  • very little strength needed for belaying

Disadvantages

  • cannot be used for belaying from an anchor
  • must be operated with precision
  • original Gri-Gri only compatible with ropes with a diameter of 10 - 11 mm; Grigri 2 accomodates ropes with a diameter of 8,9 bis 11 mm
  • incorrect use can lead to dangerous device failure

Check out our selecion of current belay devices in the Bergzeit belay device shop.

By Thomas H., Alpine branch manager

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