What Is The Best Belay Device For Beginners? | EpicTV Climbing Daily, Ep. 571

Date
08th September 2015
08th Sep 2015
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When you're just starting out climbing, choosing your first belay device can be a tricky task but it's also an extremely important one as learning good belay technique from the outset will help to keep you and your partners safe further down the line. With auto-locking belay devices such as the Grigri now more common than ever, it is tempting to use one of these early on in the belief that it will help eliminate some of the risk as you perfect your belay technique. However, we'd recommend starting out with a simple friction plate design instead as this will not only help you to develop perfect belay technique, but will be applicable no matter what type of climbing you progress into. With that in mind, we've lined up three great options: the Black Diamond ATC Sport belay device, the Petzl Verso belay device and the Black Diamond ATC XP belay device. Check out the video to find out which was our pick for best of the bunch. What Is The Best Belay Device For Beginners? | EpicTV Climbing Daily, Ep. 571

Latest comment on this episode

Dave Thexton's picture
Climbing Gear Geek
Hi Anton, It’s really great to hear your thoughts on this and I'm sure other people will have their own opinions. However, I think we are going to stick to our guns this time. Belaying skills learned on a tubular device are transferable to assisted braking devices, but the reverse is not always true. If someone is taught to belay using a Grigri for example, and then find themselves in a situation where they have to belay using a tubular device, they will be unprepared for the extra force required to hold a fall. We are not saying that tubular devices are safer than auto-locking devices; on the whole, we probably think the opposite is true. However, this does not imply that tubular devices are unsafe. Most climbing accidents happen as a result of carelessness or bad technique. It is more important that a novice climber is given a comprehensive instruction on how to belay rather than rely on an assisted braking device to compensate for an incomplete understanding. On a less safety related note, simple tubular devices are cheaper than other type of belay devices. The obvious appeal of this for a beginner climber is that you don't need to make a large investment when you are first getting into the sport. If you are certain that you will be leading multipitch routes soon, then certainly you should buy a device suitable for that but I think this is very rarely the case. Regarding the other points you raised; Cailean, who is belaying in the video, is an exceptionally experienced climber and has been belaying for many years. I have re-watched the video and would personally be happy for him to belay me with the techniques displayed. I am also 100% confident that using a screwgate carabiner with a belaying device is a safe method, it is not the ONLY safe method though or even the safEST method. Hope that helps, Dave P.S. We have similar discussions and hundreds of others on our recently launched Gear Geek discussion forum here: http://www.epictv.com/products/climbing-and-alpinism
21st Sep 2015