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We have divided the criteria of what makes a good belay device into blocking support, safety reserve, operation to release the rope, operation to release, handling and compatibility of karabiner and rope. Before we go into the details here is the summary:
Overall, the ATC Guide* is better suited for thicker ropes and beginners than the Reverso 4*. The ATC Guide has a longer service life and is very robustly built – but it cannot be used for sport climbing because of the lack of brake support.
Here is an overview table of the most important features:
|ATC Guide||Reverso 4|
|Rope diameter||8.1 – 11 mm||7.5 – 8.9 mm|
|Weight||80 g||59 g|
|For what?||alpine climbing, multi-rope length climbing, bigwall climbing||alpine climbing, multi-rope climbing, sport climbing|
|For whom?||Allrounder for beginners||Sports climbers|
What Makes a Good Belay Device?
A good belay device convinces by its blocking support. As an important safety feature, it is important to know how well the device blocks in the event of a fall.
The focus is on jerky, hard and soft, slow falls. While some devices block very well in hard and jerky falls, they show clear weaknesses in soft falls. The problem can be caused and even intensified by too much friction of the rope.
As a further criterion, existing safety reserves play an important role. A decisive factor here is the safety buffer that is still available in the event of faulty belay behavior. We also examine in detail how the braking hand principle affects your own safety in case of injury.
In the section Operation Rope dispensing, the focus is on how quickly and, above all, how easily rope can be dispensed. If you are a climber, it is important that you can release rope quickly without neglecting the brake rope.
Similar to the operation Release rope, the point Operation Release rope is an important criterion for our comparison. How easy is it to control and dose the release speed? How easy can this feature be implemented for beginners? The fact that too fast or uncontrolled release of the rope is a frequent cause of accidents is an important feature.
On the question of handling, we have looked at how the device fits in the hand, how easy or intuitive it is to use and how prone it is to handling errors.
How well are karabiners and rope compatible with each other? Rope diameter and karabiner play an important role in this point.
Black Diamond ATC Guide
Especially beginners have difficulties in choosing the right equipment. The market is large and the offer is even larger. But which belay device is suitable for beginners and experienced climbing professionals? We compare the Black Diamond ATC Guide* with the Reverso 4* from Petzl.
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The operation of the ATC Guide from the manufacturer Black Diamond is simple and even very intuitive. The device is ideal for beginners, as it is also suitable for small budgets. It proves a good handling and can convince with robustness. A long service life and functionality are convincing. What is missing, however, is the blocking support. For this reason the ATC Guide by Black Diamond is not suitable for sport climbing.
With a weight of around 80g, the tube is suitable for all types of rope, whether single rope, twin rope or half rope. However, the rope diameter should be between 8.1 and 11 millimeters. The model ATC Guide is suitable for alpine climbing, multi-rope length climbing, bigwall climbing and is therefore considered a real all-rounder for beginners.
If you are looking for a classic tube without autotube function, the ATC Guide from Black Diamond is the best choice. As a dynamic belay device, the Tube is ideal for climbing in alpine terrain as well as on multi-pitch routes.
Since the device does not block automatically, i.e. without blocking support, the rope must be kept active at all times. As if that were not enough, it is also important that the rope is held in the correct position. For this reason, the ATC Guide Tube is not suitable for sport climbing.
- Versatile in use
- Well-balanced price/performance ratio
- Easy to use
- Light with 80g
- Very good rope handling
- Handling is intuitive
- Outperforms all Auto-Tuber in handling
- Self-blocking in rebound mode
- Can be used with high and low friction
- Not independently brake booster
- Does not lead to carelessness
- Imprints rub off over time
- Not the lightest tuber on the market, but also not the heaviest
- Requires additionally up to 3 HMS carabiners
- Dumping in the post-run mode requires know-how and concentration
Application area of the ATC Guide of the manufacturer Black Diamond
- Alpine climbing
- indoor climbing
- Rock Climbing
- abseiling on a single and double rope
Datasheet of the ATC Guide of the manufacturer Black Diamond
- Weight: 80 g (manufacturer’s specification)
- Dimensions: 10 x 9.5 x 4 cm
- Cable thicknesses: single 8.9 – 11 mm, half and twin 8.1 – 11 mm
- Material: hot forged and anodized 7075-T6 aluminum
- Warranty: 1 year
Petzl Reverso 4
The operation of the Reverso 4* from the manufacturer Petzl convinces as a dynamic belay device. However, the handling and the general durability are slightly better with the Black Diamond ATC Guide*.
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However, if you are looking for a multifunctional device for all vertical activities, the Reverso 4 from Petzl is a must. Flexible in use and easy to handle, the Reverso 4 is a convincing all-rounder for beginners. It is also convincing thanks to its low weight of only 59g.
Its integrated braking system is suitable for ropes with different diameters and rope properties. Its intuitive use allows the control of the brake friction on the rope. This is due to the V-shaped braking grooves with their asymmetrical lateral notches. For this reason, the Reverso 4 can also be used to secure one or even two subsequent climbers.
- Easy to use
- Reverso mode
- Ultralight construction
- V-shaped brake grooves
- Lowering the descendant
- Special locking carabiner necessary
Range of application Reverso 4 of the manufacturer Petzl
- backup devices
- Descender device (tube principle)
- Sport Climbing
- Multi-pitch ropes
Datasheet Reverso 4 of the manufacturer Petzl
- Suitable for half ropes with a minimum diameter of 8 mm
- Suitable for twin ropes with diameter minimum 7,5 mm
- Suitable for single ropes with a minimum diameter of 8.9 mm
- Weight: 59 g (manufacturer’s specification)
- Warranty: 1 year
Best Belay Device – How Important is the Autotuber?
In the event of a fall, Autotubers create very strong friction to block the rope. The passage of the rope is therefore stopped abruptly. This means that holding the fall is less dependent on your own strength.
Autotubers, therefore, offer a significantly higher safety reserve than is the case with classic tubers. The position of the braking hand always affects the braking effect. If the braking hand is in the correct position, the Autotuber will automatically lock.
Compared to the conventional tube, the device blocks completely and alone. The braking effect already starts at an angle between 10 and 45 degrees. With a Tuber, an angle of 90 degrees between the guide rope and the brake rope is necessary to achieve a braking effect.
Due to the blocking support, all main automatic belay devices can be secured by body dynamics only. Device dynamic securing is not possible with them.
The difference between Autotuber and semi-automatic is on the one hand the braking hand position. While semi-automatic machines lock independently of the braking hand, the Autotube requires the correct positioning of the braking hand. For this reason, semi-automatic systems offer a large safety reserve, while autotubes only provide small safety reserves.
The blocking mechanism in semi-automatic machines is generated by clamping the rope inside the machine. With the Autotube, on the other hand, the rope is clamped between the belay device and the karabiner.
In the semi-automatic machine, the rope only runs through the device. There is usually no contact with the karabiner. Either a special and very high-quality karabiner is necessary or wear and tear of the karabiner occurs quickly. The situation is different with the Autotube. Here the rope runs between the device and the karabiner. However, special karabiners are sometimes necessary to ensure safe operation. With the Autotube, the rope runs directly over the karabiner and accordingly leads to wear and tear.
Conclusion: Black Diamond ATC Guide vs. Petzl Reverso 4
The Reverso 4* from Petzl is a real all-rounder. The abseiling and belay device convinces with various and problem-free applications on the rope.
Whether it’s climbing, belaying a descendant or abseiling at the top of a route, the Reverso 4 convinces with all the facets that climbing has to offer.
Due to its simple design, its operation is very clear and safe (provided that it is properly secured with the braking hand).
Small drawback: The rope run depends on the diameter and the nature of the rope. However, dispensing rope and hauling in rope are easy and without blockage. If, for example, you want to let go of a climbing partner, the braking effect is increased thanks to the braking aid available.
This allows a more controlled dumping maneuver, even with very thin rope diameters. During longer belay phases, however, a great deal of force is required with the braking hand. The price/performance ratio of the Reverso 4 is well balanced.
The ATC Guide* of the manufacturer Black Diamond behaves similarly. Although the device is not a world first, you can clearly feel that the handling and operation have been significantly improved.
Exactly here a small innovation shows up. Because the device makes a good impression when it is secured. Only for sport climbing this device is not suitable. One of the biggest advantages of the ATC Guide is that it can be used without karabiners. Its ergonomic construction completes the belay device. Especially for beginners, the ATC Guide offers a perfect and well-balanced price/performance ratio.
Still undecided? Then these articles could help you:
Attention: You have to take care of your safety when climbing! The information on climbtheearth.com only helps you to learn. Before you climb, you should make sure that you have been properly instructed by an expert and that you follow all safety precautions.
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