Best Belay Device Reviews 2023

Rock climbing can be fun, especially if you have an experienced belayer who you trust. You also have peace of mind when you know they’re using a quality belaying device for your ascent and descent. However, picking a belay device in the market can be a daunting task owing to the many options available. To help you with this, we’ve researched the best belay device brands in the market and settled on 5 top manufacturers, choosing a specific product from each to review.
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Rope Rap
Our Top Choice
Mad Rock Lifeguard Belay Device
Mad Rock is a seasoned and innovative manufacturer of climbing equipment. Its products are popular because of their reliability.
Lightweight construction. Strong, durable aluminum and stainless steel. Made for rappelling and climbing.
Doesn’t fit ropes thicker than 0.43 inches
Active assisted braking
0.35 - 0.43” rope diameter
3.01 x 1.89 x 1.53” / 0.34 lbs.
Aluminum and stainless steel
Best Value
Fusion Terminal 8 Belay Device
Fusion is renowned for its quality climbing, safety and tactical products that are thoroughly tested before being released to the market.
Strong and durable enough to be used for rescue ops. Large diameter. Comes in 2 colors.
It’s bulky and may not be easy to carry.
Figure 8
Above 0.43” rope diameter
6.5 x 6.5 x 0.56” / 0.58 lbs.
Petzl Grigri 2 Belay Device
Petzl prides itself on providing explorers with top-notch equipment used in hard to reach places such as caves, canyons or escarpments.
Sturdy, durable and reliable. Assisted braking mechanism. Available in 3 colors.
It isn’t designed to use double ropes.
Assisted braking
0.33 - 0.43” rope diameter
8 x 5 x 2” / 0.37 lbs.
Aluminum, stainless steel, nylon
DMM Pivot Belay Device
DMM has more than 30 years’ experience in manufacturing quality and fairly priced climbing equipment that gives customers value for money.
Easy to use, strong and durable. Grooved slots for double rope rappelling. Available in 3 colors.
Doesn’t have a braking mechanism.
Tube style
0.3 - 0.43” rope diameter
Single & double ropes
8 x 6 x 2” / 0.16 lbs.
Hot forged aluminum
Black Diamond ATC-Guide Belay Device
Black Diamond is world renowned for quality climbing and skiing equipment that’s skillfully crafted for utmost efficiency and reliability.
Lightweight, strong and durable. Works with single and double ropes. Windowed design. Can guide 2 climbers.
Doesn’t release load easily in a top-rope belay setup
Auto-block tube
0.3 - 0.41” rope diameter
Single & half ropes
4.72 x 3.15 x 3.15” / 0.19 lbs.

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Watch Our Belay Device Review

What is the Best Belay Device?

Since you now know what to look for when shopping for a belay device, let’s have a closer look at the features of the selected products in this review. Depending on your level of rock climbing or rappelling expertise, think of how these features are relevant to your current needs. It’s our hope that, as you go through our review, you’ll find a belay device that works for you.
Our Top Choice
The Mad Rock Lifeguard comes in a compact design and is suitable for single rope rappelling, lead and top-rope climbing. Are you shopping for a figure 8 belay device? We highly recommend the Mad Rock Rescue 8 with Ears. It’s built to withstand heavy loads with strength of up to 45 KN.

Mad Rock Red Lifeguard Belay Device for Ropes Ranging from 8.9mm to 11mm

Mad Rock was established in 2002 as a small rock climbing shoes company. Over the years, the company has grown to command a worldwide market share. Its range of products has also grown to include rock shoes, approach shoes, harnesses, carabiners, chalk/chalk bags and rescue equipment. The company embraces a culture of innovation to enable it to stay ahead in the ever-competitive climbing market.

The Mad Rock Lifeguard is built to function like an ATC belay device and doesn’t come with unusual features. It’s easy and quick to mount and its camming action is designed to stop immediately when its handle is released. This applies enough friction on the rope to stops it thus arresting a fall. Also, this gives the ability to control your descent for added safety.

In addition here are other climbing tools from Mad Rock you may be interested in:
  • Mad Rock Concorde Quickdraw Set
  • Mad Rock Venus Climbing Package w/ harness, chalk and chalk bag and belay devices
Best Value
The Fusion Terminal 8 Belay Device is made of heavy duty aluminum and has a maximum breaking strength of 45KN. It comes with a large rope diameter for easy use. If you need a lighter belay device, then get the Fusion Climb Aluminum Figure 8 Descender. It has a maximum breaking strength of 35KN and offers smooth rope action when in use.

Fusion Titan Terminal 8 Descender Belay Device – Available in 2 Colors

Fusion has continued to provide the market with dependable climbing tools such as body harnesses, carabiners and rigging plates. It doesn’t matter whether you’re climbing rocks or trees, Fusion will provide you with the right equipment to get up and down safely. The company also offers other products such as helmets, pulley systems and quickdraws for professional tactical operations.

The Fusion Terminal 8 Belay Device is highly versatile and can be used for a wide array of climbing activities. It comes with ears, belay slots and a large inner rope diameter. This design makes it easy to use as it doesn’t need a specific way of tying a rope around it. In addition, this belay device doesn’t have moving parts and this eliminates the chance of failure. These factors make the Terminal 8 a perfect choice to use in adverse rescue situations. Although most people use it for rappelling, it can be a great belay tool. It comes in black and silver colors for added variety.

Here are other climbing tools from Fusion that we think are worth your consideration:
  • Fusion Climb Spartacus Heavy Duty Half Body Rigging Harness
  • Fusion Climb Centaur Kiddo Half Body Children's Climbing Harness
The Petzl GriGri 2 Belay Device comes with a gradual rope release mechanism that allows you to have maximum descent control. If you fancy a tube style belay device, then the Petzl Verso Belay Device is your best bet. It comes in an ultra-light design and is available in three colors.

Petzl GriGri 2 Belay Device with Assisted Braking for 8.9 to 11mm Ropes – Available in 3 Colors

Petzl company has come a long way from a local manufacturer of ascenders and descenders to a worldwide supplier of a wide range of tactical gear. Its products are used in activities such as rock climbing, mountaineering, caving and ice climbing. This company attributes its success to continual innovation that makes its products superior. This has seen a tremendous growth in the brand’s popularity in the market.

The Petzl GriGri 2 Belay Device has imprinted installation illustrations on its interior and exterior surfaces. These allow for easy installation especially if it’s your first time using it. It also features a lightweight and compact design that’s easy to carry. The braking mechanism of this belay device is activated by applying tension on the free side of the rope. This device comes with a comprehensive user’s manual that is easy to read and follow and is backed with a three year manufacturer’s warranty. It also comes in three color variations for more choices to pick from and it’s CE EN 15151 and UIAA certified.

We also think that the following products from Petzl are worth your consideration:
  • Petzl Reverso 4 Belay Device
  • Petzl OK SCREW-LOCK carabiner
  • Petzl Pro Zigzag
  • Petzl Microswivel Connector
The DMM Pivot Belay Device offers you both guide and pivot controlled operating modes. It comes with two grooved slots that allow easy double rope feeding. Looking for a belay device that also works as a carabiner? Then the DMM Belay Master 2 Carabiner - Screwgate is your best bet. It comes in a silver color and has a strength of 25 KN.

DMM Lightweight Pivot Belay Device for Ropes 7.3 to 11mm – Available in 3 Colors

DMM has excelled in manufacturing recreational climbing and mountaineering equipment with immense popularity among consumers. Its products are built with the safety of the end user in mind and are durable and easy to use. The company strives to maintain high quality standards while keeping their prices affordable for all types of consumer.

The versatile DMM Pivot Belay Device is built for multiple uses such as alpine, winter and rock climbing. It uses two carabiners to form a pivot system that allows controlled load release and smooth rope payout. Moreover, its ease of operation makes it an excellent choice for novice belayers and seasoned professionals alike. This belay device has installation illustrations imprinted on its surface for hassle free use. It’s also available in three colors for added personalization.

In addition, here are other products for DMM that you may be interested:
  • DMM Rhino Locking Carabiner
  • DMM Oval Plain Gate Carabiner
  • DMM Wallnut Nut set
  • DMM Alloy Offset
The Black Diamond ATC-Guide Belay/Rappel Device features a windowed design and has grooved slots for added friction modes. It can also guide two climbers for ascend and descent. Looking for a figure 8 styled belay device? We highly recommend the Black Diamond Super 8 Belay Device. It comes in smooth, sleek design and is available in two colors.

Black Diamond ATC-Guide Belay / Rappel Device – Available in 2 Colors

Black Diamond was established in 1957 and since then the company has grown to become a worldwide leader in the manufacture of sporting equipment and accessories with applications in skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing and hiking. Some of its equipment includes belay devices, harnesses, chalk and chalk bags, climbing ropes, skis and ski poles. The company also manufactures both men’s and women’s comfortable outdoor apparel.

The Black Diamond ATC-Guide Belay/Rappel Device comes with an enlarged hole for the auto-block release that fits a small carabiner. It has a study cable that doesn’t get caught between ropes easily. This belay device is specially built to operate smoothly and reliably irrespective of prevailing conditions. It’s also available in two colors and comes at a pocket friendly price.

Here are other products from Black Diamond that you may be interested in:
  • Black Diamond Belay Device plus Locking Biner
  • Black Diamond Rocklock Magnetron Carabiner and HDO Lite E-tip Gloves

How Do I Choose the Best Belay Device?

It’s summer time and if you’re an avid rock climber, it’s to time to conquer a new challenge. It’s also an opportunity for lots of people to have a shot at their first climbing experience. However, there are key safety issues you must take care of before you embark on any rock climbing expedition, irrespective of whether you’re a pro or a novice climber. These include a reliable body harness, climbing helmet, good climbing shoes and reliable ropes. Whether you’re rappelling or relying on a belayer, you’ll need reliable equipment to control your ascent and descent. This is where a belaying device comes in.

It’s the device that a belayer will use to slack or apply tension on your rope as you climb and also control your descent for a safe landing. In case of a fall, a belay device is used to apply a braking action on the rope and prevent you from dropping too far. Belay devices come in different sizes and shapes and are classified according to their braking action or general design. These include active assisted braking, auto-block tube, tube style and figure-8 style belay devices.

While these devices may be designed differently, they offer critical support for your safety. At this point, it’s important to mention you need to take care of your safety and ensure the belay device is properly installed. Also, make sure there’s a knot at the loose end of the climbing rope as a precaution – just in case the belay braking mechanism fails. Now, let’s take a look at the key features you need to look out for when shopping for belay device.
The price of a belay device is determined by several factors including construction material and functional features such as braking mechanisms and applications. For instance, a belay device that can be used for rappelling and has an assisted braking system will cost more than a basic belay tool without a braking mechanism.

Currently, the price of a quality belay device starts at around $10 and it can go close to $100 if the belay device comes with an internal pivot camming mechanism. This doesn’t mean you won’t come across cheap belay devices in the market, but you need to be careful as such devices are often made of poor quality materials and are susceptible to failure. This is why we haven’t included them in our review.
When it comes to rock climbing, you can’t gamble with your safety. Besides having a trusted and experienced belayer, you need reliable equipment. This is because any mistakes can be costly. So, you need to be keen on the features of a belay device before you buy it.

Here is what you need to look for in a delay device:
  • Type - Is it active assisted braking, auto-block tube, tube style or figure-8 style
  • Compatibility - Recommended rope diameter
  • Rope type - Recommended rope type e.g. Single or double rope
  • Size - Dimensions and weight
  • Construction materials - Materials used in its manufacture e.g. Aluminum
Before buying any belay device, check out its qualities against these features and make sure it meets your needs.
Construction and Design
The best brands in the market use materials such as aluminum and stainless steel for the construction of belay devices. These materials are strong and produce sturdy designs. Usually, belay devices are small and come in different designs such as tube style, auto-block tube, assisted braking type and figure 8 style.

Tube style belay devices are common and come with two slots that allow the use of both single and double ropes of varied diameters. These devices don’t come with a braking mechanism but rely on the belayer to apply friction manually on the rope. Also, auto-block tube belay devices are essentially similar to their tube style counterparts. The only difference is that they have a hole used to attach the device to an anchoring point besides the belayer’s body harness. This gives the rope added friction and thus the effort a belayer uses to arrest a fall is greatly reduced.

On the other hand, some of the active assisted braking belay devices have internal pivoting systems that apply friction on the rope in the event of a fall while others rely on their design to initiate a braking action. For instance, in some designs, the braking action is activated by applying tension on the free side of the rope and pulling the handle of the belay device simultaneously. These types of belay devices tend to operate on single ropes and have a smaller rope diameter range.

Now, focusing on the figure 8 style belay devices, it’s important to note that these devices are specially built for rescue operations. They can come with a varied number of large slots and others even have ears. However, like the tube style belay devices, they don’t have an automated braking mechanism. The good news is they can be used with a wide range of single and double style ropes. So, as you shop for a belay device, look for one that can work with your rope of choice.
Performance and Ease of Use
When choosing a belay device, go for one that is sturdy, strong and reliable as it would be disastrous to work with a flimsy device. Most of the belay devices recommended for beginners are easy to install and operate. They may come with installation illustrations imprinted on their surfaces.

Also, it’s common for leading brands to include easy to follow user manuals in their packaging. This helps you familiarize yourself with the belay device. Besides buying a quality belay device, you’ll need to be disciplined to adhere to the best belaying practices at all times in order to safeguard the lives of climbers. This will help you enjoy rock climbing more and avoid potentially fatal accidents.

Get the Best Belay Device of 2023!

Having gone through our reviews of belay devices, we hope you’ve found our selection of products relevant to your needs and found one that works for you. If so, go ahead and place your order on Amazon. Otherwise, click the links on this review page to find out other equally good belay devices from the featured brands.

Our Top Choice
Mad Rock Lifeguard Belay Device
Best Value
Fusion Terminal 8 Belay Device
Petzl Grigri 2 Belay Device
DMM Pivot Belay Device
Black Diamond ATC-Guide Belay Device