The 10 Best Belay Devices
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Whether you're an experienced outdoor climber or a newbie in the gym, you should never try an ascent without the proper equipment. These belay devices feature the latest in safety technology to arrest any falls and ensure that you and your companions are secure no matter the situation. We've included models ideal for all sorts of climbing, from traditional and sport to alpine ascents. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 20, 2020:
There are a lot of factors to weigh when you're selecting climbing gear, but safety is clearly the most important. That's why we've added the Wild Country Revo to the latest version of this list, as it features a virtually idiot-proof assisted braking system that's unlike anything else on the market. It engages automatically based on the speed with which the rope is moving through the pulley, removing user error from the equation when it comes to stopping falls. It also does away with the issues that can arise with lever-based brake releases if the operator tenses up in a moment of confusion and pulls down too hard. It would be ranked even higher on the list if not for the fact that it's on the heavier side even for active-assist devices.
Speaking of lever-operated brakes, we've slightly downgraded the Petzl Grigri Plus based on reports that the anti-panic mechanism can be a bit too sensitive. This failsafe stops the rope if the belayer opens the lever too far while lowering a partner, which is nice for beginners still getting used to the equipment, but potentially irritating for experienced climbers. Instead we've chosen to top the list with the Petzl Grigri V3, which still offers automatic stoppage for sudden falls, but weighs less, costs less, and is less likely to pull you up short during a controlled descent. We also removed the Camp USA Matik, which is largely redundant with the Grigri Plus, but more expensive and not as well-reviewed.
We've also replaced the Edelrid MegaJul with the new and improved Edelrid GigaJul, which offers vastly more functionality, while correcting the previous model's issues of excessive friction when rappelling or lowering. This is a very handy tool for multi-pitch outings, allowing several different belay styles with a single device.
If you're gearing up to hit the rocks, you should be aware that we also have overviews of climbing ropes, harnesses, and helmets. Or if you want to get your fingers and arms in shape for gripping and lifting, take a look at our rankings of the best hang boards.