Rock Empire R.E. Guard II
This belay device jams only slightly while belaying…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $13
This belay device jams only slightly while belaying a lead in the gym, but it impossible to use while belaying a second in guide mode. The jamming is so bad that I think the product is dangerous.
- Inexpensive (250 Czech crowns/ $12.50)
- Works for sport climbing (not very well but could get the job done)
- Works for rappelling
- Jams while belaying a leader
- Very difficult to use in guide mode/ belaying a second
- Tough to fit wider ropes into and out of device due to odd device shape
At first glance this looked like a normal belay device that can be used in guide mode. Just about everyone makes one now, and this was half the price of the rest of the belay devices I saw in Hudy Sport near Masarykovo nadrazi in Prague 1, Czech Republic.
I got it to use in Sumava and in Cesky Krumlov during the weekend after my friend had dropped my belay device while climbing Gerlachovsky stit in the High Tatras the previous weekend. Anyway, it rained the weekend I went to Sumava and Cesky Krumlov so no rock climbing.
I took the device back to the U.S. and was using it in the gym with my friend. I use a 10.4 for lead in the gym, and was having trouble getting the rope in and out of the device. I'll explain. Like a Black Diamond ATC or Petzl Reverso there are two parallel chambers to feed the rope through that are shaped like ovals. On this device the slots are shaped like a 'figure 8." In the center of each slot is a constriction. It works for single pitch sport and rappelling with only a little difficulty, the rope jams a bit while feeding but it is manageable.
For belaying a second this device does not work. With the guide modes on most devices, the device autolocks due to friction between the rope to the climber and the free end. With the constriction in the middle the ropes don't have much contact, so guide mode cannot be used effectively. That is inconvenient but workable.
But, I had the rope to the second get stuck in the chamber and then forced into half of the device with the free end (this must be hard to picture but I do not know how else to explain it). The device completely locked up and could have turned into a very bad situation had my second not been on a 2x2 meter wide ledge and able to secure himself and give me a little slack.
This is an inexpensive belay device, by a company that makes a lot of good equipment in Czech Republic. I use Rock Empire cams sometimes as well as runners and draws. I don't like poorly reviewing a company I like, but this device has been terrible and I would recommend staying away from it and saving $10 elsewhere.