Climbing News

New Belaying devices coming out in 2017

New Belay Devices coming out in 2017

I am sure you have your own belay device and are very happy with the way it works but, you know, technology (and marketing) are always orchestrating a new way for you to spend some more cash.

So, these are a few new belay devices that are going to contend the market in 2017. Each one of them promises better breaking performance than their predecessors and lighter weight. During the last years we have seen many new devices trying to elbow their way to success, failing completely or just being redundant and over complicated.

Said this, the new Gri-Gri Plus sounds like an incredible step forward and has many improvements that were seriously needed on previous models, such as the Anti-Panic block and working with a wider range of rope diameters.

Anyhow, you will be the judges in determining what is really worthy using. If you have one of these devices it would be great to hear your opinion. Was is good enough to replace your old device?

Overview (includes also devices from 2016)

Brand Name Price ($) Weight (g) Diameters (mm) Rating (1 to 5) Image
Wild Country Revo 129 245 8.5 to11 ★★★★ WILDCOUNTRY_PE17_REVO
Petzl GriGri + 150 200 8.5 to 11 ★★★ grigriplus
Edelrid MegaJul Sport 30 88 8 to 11 ★★ Edelrid MegaJul Sport
Black Diamond ATC Pilot 40 86 8.7 to 10.5 ★★ Black Diamond Pilot ATC belay device
Camp Matik 199 276 8.6 to 10.2 ★★★★ Camp Matik Belay device
Trango Vergo 99 190 8.9 to 10.7 ★★★ Trango Vergo belay device
Mad Rock Lifeguard 89 119 8.5 to 11 ★★★ Mad Rock LIfeguard

Wild Country Revo

WILDCOUNTRY_PE17_REVO

Wild Country seems to have finally created the safest belay device on the market. The Revo is advertised as a truly revolutionary device, working on any direction and devoid of levers, making it impossible to tamper with its locking systems.

The Revo is NOT a self-locking device. Do not be fooled. Like all other devices it is an 'assisted breaking device' meaning its mechanism help locking the rope in case of a sudden pull but you as belayer should always pay maximum attention and keep one hand on the lower side of the rope. As opposed to other devices though, the Revo does not have parts of its mechanism a belayer can press or pull to prevent the proper working of the device and can easily be used for lead-climbing as well as top-roping.

The Revo is also a perfectly symmetrical and it makes no difference which side of the device the climber and belayers are on. it works on any direction and there is no upside-down or wrong way to hold it.

For all we know of this device we entirely rely on Wild Country press releases and advocates. James Parson and Caroline Ciavaldini promise us that the Revo is a truly great device with no down sides. We trust their words and wait to try this device to make sure it will holds all the promises.

On the other hand, it does not allow to belay with 2 ropes and it is not an abseiling device.

Verdict: very good for indoor climbing, maybe not the best device to take outdoor.

Characteristics: safest device (dumb-proof)
Rope Diameters: 8.5 to 11 mm
Weight: 245g
Price: $129

 

Edelrid MegaJul Sport

Edelrid MegaJul Sport

Edelrid claims to have improved the style of the MegaJul, one of the lightest and skinniest devices on the market, by creating the new MegaJul Sport: a new device that looks more like a step down. While the old MegaJul had could be used to belay a lead climber, to abseil and also as a self-locking system to belay a second climber the new MegaJul Sport can only be used to belay a lead climber and to abseil. So why do they say it is an improved version? The representatives at Edelrid say that its larger thumb loop has a "better geometry" and allows a "better handling". Oh, it also can be used for abseiling in two positions: facing up and facing down. How good! Did they notice that also every other belay device allows abseiling both facing up and facing down?

Verdict: why to ruin something that was already bad?

Characteristics: better handling
Rope Diameters: 8 to 11 mm
Weight:
Price:

 

Petzl GriGri Plus

The GriGri Plus seems to have made a much more important step in the pursuing of real safety than its predecessor the GriGri2. This new model has finally introduced a fundamental anti-panic system which blocks the rope if the belayer pulls the lever too far. Petzl is finally catching up enhancing the GriGri+ with the anti-panic system Camp introduced in 2015 with its Matik belay device. 

The GriGri Plus also has a lever to switch between 'leading' and 'top-roping' modes. The 'leading' mode is just the one we know with the previous GriGri, while the 'top-roping' mode engages the locking system even with just the smallest pull. 

The GriGri Plus can be used with a wider spectrum of rope diameters than the previous models. It accommodates ropes from 8.5 to 11 milliliters. It also has a new stainless-steel plate that prevents fast wear caused by rope rubbing. The GriGri Plus is 200g heavy and just a 30g heavier than the GriGri 2. 

Petzl GriGri Plus

On the other hand, the GriGri wil always be the GriGri, with its very controversial system that allows belayers to disengage the locking system with just the pressure of a thumb....  While other brands are striving to crate dumb-proof devices Petzl insists with its old and inadequate mechanism, maybe it would be better to start afresh with a truly innovative design? For all those who use any model of GriGri we recommend to learn how to faultlessly use it. Have a look at the following videos if you are unsure of its proper use:

How to belay the leader with a GRIGRI - Belaying techniques

Characteristics: Anti-Panic system, 'Leading' and 'Top-Roping' modes, wider range of rope diameters. 
Rope Diameters: 8.5 to 11 mm
Weight: 200g
Price: $150

Black Diamond - Pilot ATC

Black Diamond Pilot ATC belay device

The new Pilot ATC device is a single rope tuber designed with a new enhanced breaking geometry. It is still a tuber and it has to be handles just like a classic tuber: always one hand at the bottom end of the rope, extra care on the rope angle when feeding and taking rope etc.

The new geometry and smooth surface allow a quicker and better handling, making it safer that classical tubers.

Did anybody else notice any similarities with the Ergo Belay System Salewa released in 2014?

Characteristics: Enhanced breaking
Rope Diameters: 8.7 to 10.5
Weight: 86g
Price: €40

 

Belay Devices already on the Market

Camp Matik

Camp Matik Belay device
Camp introduced the Matik in 2015 and it was the first assisted breaking device to have an anti-panic locking system. Camp borrows knowledge to its work safety department and applies it successfully to climbing, creating devices with plenty of great features.

The Matik works with ropes with diameter from 8.6 to 10.2 mm and -as opposed to similar devices such as the GriGri- it does not have a cam to press to prevent the locking system from working properly. When locking it has a much lower impact on the rope and on the entire system, preventing the rope from getting damage by the biting system.

Characteristics: Anti-panic system, no possibilities to prevent locking system
Rope Diameters: 8.6 to 10.2 mm
Weight: 276 g
Price: $199

Trango Vergo

Trango Vergo belay device

Trango released the Vergo belay device in 2015 as an improved version of the old Cinch. The Vergo has a much bigger lowering lever, which was the main problem on the Cinch (lowering was awkward and it was hard to keep a constant speed). Furthermore the Vergo has an enhanced ergonomic shape that keeps the belayer hand in place preventing most of the actions he or she can take to override the locking system. Like the Cinch before, feeding rope to a lead climber is smooth and effortless while the locking system works like a charm. Temporarily disengaging the locking system to feed rope after a fall is easy and it does not allow overriding of the mechanism.

Although it can only be used with one single rope, Trango says the Vergo could also be used on multi-pitches to belay a second climber. This is true, and apparently it works very well. But still, not many multi-pitches can be climbed with one single rope and it surely won't allow you to abseil on double rope. Therefore this 'can be used on multi-pitches' sounds a bit of a stretch.

On the other side of the coin, the locking system bites the rope on a rounded edge, but still an edge. On a long run this can damage the rope. The Cinch had an enormous problem with the way it wear off, creating a sharp edge right where the rope was getting bitten. This was an unbearable fault in design and we hope it was successfully addressed with the new Vergo.

Characteristics: incredibly smooth feeding, better locking system, less possibilities to override locking
Rope Diameters: 8.9 to 10.7 mm
Weight: 190g
Price: $99

Mad Rock Lifeguard

Mad Rock LIfeguard
Mad Rock released the Lifeguard in 2015, looking like a direct competitor to the well-established GriGri by Petzl. The Lifeguard is cheap and tiny. It is made of hot forged aircraft grade aluminum and stainless steel, weighting as little as 119 grams. Just like the GriGri2 it works with ropes from 9.9 to 11 millimeters in diameter and has has a smaller lowering lever. #
 
Those who used it (not us) said it works better when feeding the rope to a lead climber but it is not perfect on the catching of the rope. This has to be discussed. If you use a Lifeguard tell us what you think about it.

Characteristics: light, smoother feeding
Rope Diameters: 8.9 to 11 mm
Weight: 119g
Price: $89

 

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