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Black Diamond ATC-Guide

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo: Black Diamond ATC-Guide belay/rappel device

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 greatly increases friction. This is applicable mostly for canyoneering, where single-stranded rappels on wet and thin (9mm or less) rope necessitates that level of friction.

It has been noted that user feedback for the ATC-XP convinced Black Diamond to tone-down the friction ridges for the ATC-Guide. Whereas the ATC-XP has been said to have ~3 times the friction of the plain ATC, the ATC-Guide is said to have ~2 times the friction. In any case, the friction ridges still provide quite a bit of friction to the point that I prefer rappelling without using them in normal conditions. But it is certainly nice to have should the need arise.

There isn't much more to say except for the fact that the device works as advertised, with no obvious faults to speak of. It is good enough to go unnoticed, which is actually high praise.

Besides being quite lightweight, the ATC-Guide is a very nice evolution from the ATC. The ability to belay directly off of the anchors is so great that you will go "wow" if you have never belayed a second off of the anchors. It will lock off, and that really helps in keeping the second safe.


  • Belay off of the anchors directly
  • Versatile with a wide range of rope diameters
  • light weight


  • Not really sure of any unless you are inexperienced in using the ATC-Guide

It's easy to incorporate it into the anchor system, and it's quite easy to rappel from either double or single line rappels.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $29

Great overall product, performs like it should with no snags or problems whatsoever.


  • Easy to use
  • No snags
  • Reliable under all conditions
  • Accepts a wide range of ropes


  • As expected, does not lock

This is a truly straightforward device that can be used by the most novice belayers, like all other belay devices of its kind, the biggest advantages it has are: first, the high friction mode, which will allow the rope to lock even under heavy strain without the need of making excessive amounts of effort on the belayers side; second, the ability to anchor it and belay a seconding climber with ease.

I've used the ATC Guide for both indoor and outdoor rock climbing for over a year without a single problem. Its ease of use and reliability use after use make me give it five stars without a single doubt in my mind.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $29.95

I've used many different belay devices, and this is the best. It's intuitive like the ATC and other similar belay devices but this one is special because of its many other features, the best being the ridges on one side that offer more friction. The other two loops on it act similarly to the Reverso by Petzl so you can belay from your anchor instead of your harness, but when you have it set up this way the ATC-XP Guide becomes a self-locking belay device. That last little hole is used to tie some webbing through it and the carabiner because when it self-locks, you'll need the leverage to unlock it.

So overall I believe this ATC makes all other tube style belay devices obsolete because it's intuitive, versatile and smooth.

So you have that buddy that's reaching walrus territory. I mean he is really packing on the flub, that asks you..."How bout a climb this weekend?" With the Black Diamond ATC Guide your skinny ass doesn't have to worry. Putting the brakes on the walrus.... no prob! Love you ATC Guide!


  • Breaking power


  • None

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $15

I have tried every belay device on the market that was designed to be used in an auto-block situation. The BD ATC-Guide is my go-to device. I use it exclusively when climbing for fun or when guiding.

The single connection point is easier to use and more stable than the B-52, and the thick aluminum lasts longer than the thin material of the Reverso. Petzl has improved on the design of the Reverso, but the BD ATC-Guide is still a better device. It can be used in low or high friction mode (something Petzl used in their update of the Reverso) and also as an ascender.

Price Paid: retail

As someone who does most of my climbing and rappeling with Scouts, the ATC-Guide is a godsend.  It's easy to use and explain and the friction ridges really lock down a rope even when a novice kid is using it.  This sure saves me a lot of skipped heart beats and grey hair. 

Most of the equipment I use is signed out from whatever facility or camp I am instructing at but I always bring along a couple of BD ATC-Guides to use.

Price Paid: $19 on sale

Awesome, the ATC-Guide is the best belay device on the market.

Price Paid: $27.90

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Price MSRP: $27.95
Current Retail: $31.46-$34.95
Historic Range: $0.01-$35.00
Reviewers Paid: $15.00-$29.95
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