Open main menu

Belay/Rappel Devices

Top Picks

How we choose: The best belay/rappel devices highlighted here were selected based on 54 reviews of 29 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a belay/rappel device that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Black Diamond ATC-Guide

user rating: 5 of 5 (8 reviews)

The BD ATC-Guide is a tube-style belay/rappel device with friction ridges. In this respect it is very much like its predecessor, the BD ATC-XP, and innumerable other similar devices. What makes the ATC-Guide unique is the addition of two loops of aluminum. What this addition achieves is threefold:1) For belaying a second, the ATC-Guide can now be set-up to brake automatically, much like the Petzl Reverso/Reversino. Note that all normal belay attention/precautions apply, but just that there is now a backup to normal belay.2) The additional loops of aluminum functions as an effective heat sink, allowing this device to run cooler than comparable tube-style devices.3) The additional loop of aluminum is helpful for setting up a Z-rig rappel, which...

Read more: Black Diamond ATC-Guide reviews (8)

Black Diamond ATC

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

This style of belay devices is named after this product. It's the Q-tip of climbing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Bidirectional
  • Light on the rack
  • Easy to teach to use
  • Belay or rappel

Reasons to Avoid

  • No ridges like the XP/Guide

I think my ATC came with a big belay locking carabiner back when I bought it. This was my first belay device ever. I learned it in just under a minute, my kids know how to use it, and I am sure that, with a little extra effort, my dog could belay with it in a pinch.  The whole class of tube-style belay devices are called collectively, by many climbers, ATCs. That speaks a lot for its popularity. I have had salty climbers tell me that the ATC contributed to the death of the figure eight device in sport climbing more than anything else.

Read more: Black Diamond ATC reviews (4)

Mammut Smart

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

For my first purchase of a belay device, I wanted something versatile, but user-friendly. Having only used the Petzl GriGri in the past, I needed something light weight and affordable, functional for both top-rope and leading, but intuitive for a novice. After discussing the options with some friends at my local REI, I was excited and most interested in the SMART. When my Dividend came out, it was mine. The first time using it at my local climbing gym, I noticed that there was a learning curve, but it was very steep.

Read more: Mammut Smart reviews (3)

Edelrid Mega Jul

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

This device does everything. I have not encountered a single situation in climbing that the Mega Jul could not handle smoothly and easily. It can and will replace basically anything else you currently use as a belay/rappel device.

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatile
  • Intuitive
  • Smooth
  • Responsive

Reasons to Avoid

  • Needs a second carabiner to rappel smoothly
  • Works badly with stiff/old ropes

EASE OF USE: Everything that this device claims to do, it does. It is perfect for belaying a leader, feeding out rope effortlessly. When used for toproping, the tuber-mode is still smooth and just as simple as your ATC. Belaying a second is also very easy, and the diagrams on the side of the device allows for anyone to use it, even your partner who is new to the device. That said, I would not recommend going out and relying entirely on this device without receiving some instruction online first.

Read more: Edelrid Mega Jul reviews (2)

Petzl Grigri

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (7 reviews)

I think it's best to learn using a ATC-type devise, but once you've mastered the basic technique move on to the grigri! It's right at home when belaying someone heavier than you or when your forearms are bumpin from the route you just spent 10 minutes sending and your partner wants an immediate go to show you a "different way". Lowering takes a little time to learn smoothly as you can't feel it as much as an ATC but you catch on pretty quick. If you're still worried, Petzl makes a biner with a friction spur on the side that you clip the rope into when lowering for that extra bit of stopping power (I think the biner is called a frieno or something).

Read more: Petzl Grigri reviews (7)

Petzl Stop

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Works best with flexible rope, the Stop locks down on the rope if your hand comes off the lever. Safe device with a long history of use in Europe for caving.

Reasons to Buy

  • Stops when your hand comes off the device
  • Easy to thread the rope while device is attached to the harness.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Stiff 11mm ropes are a problem
  • You must hold down the lever, which can cause fatigue on long raps
  • Skinny ropes may need an additional brake carabiner

I used the Stop in Europe to descend various caves over the course of a month. It is a good device, and allows for a free hand to clip into a belay station on rappel. This is very nice since the ropes in Europe are generally re-anchored multiple times on a rappel.   It is also fairly compact and lightweight compared to a stainless rappel rack. Unfortunately, I don't get to use it much, as most U.S. caving ropes are stiff and don't work well in the device.   Tip: Make sure to close the device for storage or while caving so you don't accidentally bend the cover plate.

Read more: Petzl Stop review (1)

Cassin Piu 2

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1 review)

It is a good belay device, with a modern and well designed look. It has all the features you may expect from a versatile piece of gear. The go-to item, for people trying to avoid the Petzl Reverso wave.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile

Reasons to Avoid

  • The printed logo and 'correct position' icon wear off easy
  • The protective cover around the steal cable cracks

It is a good belay device, with a modern and well designed look. It has all the features you may expect from a versatile piece of gear. The go to item, for people trying to avoid the Petzl Reverso wave. Positive aspects: To take a head point start in this review, I would like to take up its primary advantages: It’s a Petzl Reverso copy, so you know it will do well. The design of the Piu 2 is just a bit different, and apart from the brand, you would not even notice the difference, Until you take a more closer look and make a side by side comparison.

Read more: Cassin Piu 2 review (1)

CMI Rescue Rack

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

My "go-to" rappel device.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lots of fiction
  • Grooved bars to make sure you rig it right

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavier/bulkier than smaller models

I have bounced many pits on this rack, and it's still going strong. There are different kinds of racks on the market. As a 6'2", 190lb caver, I wanted a rack with lots of friction options. CMI uses a stainless steel frame with aluminum bars. The top bar is solid, extending the life of this bar (which takes the most wear). The other bars are half channels, reducing weight. All bars can be replaced as needed. I no longer use the rescue bar with the extension, as I've never needed that much friction.

Read more: CMI Rescue Rack review (1)

Petzl Grigri 2

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Excellent auto locking belay device.

Reasons to Buy

  • Works well
  • Safe
  • Durable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive

The Grigri is ubiquitous, you see them everywhere you go, and for good reason.  It's just about as good as a belay device can get for toproping and sport climbing.  It's expensive, but worth the price in the end for the ease of use and the peace of mind. First, it's easy to use. It has engraved simple instructions on the side of the device, and it's easy to see how it works with the locking cam if you pull up on the climber's side of the rope. Just run the rope through in the indicated direction, swivel the faceplate into place, lock with a locking biner to your belay loop, and it's ready to go.

Read more: Petzl Grigri 2 reviews (2)

More Reviews of Belay/Rappel Devices

Trailspace reviewers have shared 54 reviews of 29 different belay/rappel devices.

Show All »

or add yours

Other Types of Climbing Gear

Find more climbing gear reviewed in these related categories:

Climbing Protection

Rope, Cord, and Webbing

Carabiners and Quickdraws

+9 more types

Review Your Outdoor Gear

If you've found this site helpful — or if we've missed something important — please consider paying it forward by some of your favorite outdoor gear.

Why? From professional gearheads to outdoor novices, everyone has an important point of view to contribute. will support the outdoor community and help others find the best gear.

Trailspace reviewers are outdoor enthusiasts like you: hikers, climbers, paddlers, backcountry skiers, and trail runners who share our experiences with the gear and clothing we rely on to get outside. Learn more about Trailspace