The Black Diamond ATC is one of the most popular belay plates on the market - it is simple, light and easy to use. The popularity of the ATC is thanks to its incredible performance on wider single ropes which makes it the perfect wall climber's belay plate.
The twin slots allow the use of double ropes but if you have modern super skinny <8.5mm ropes it is usable but a little slippery, fine for experienced belayers. The device pays super smoothly and abseils without grabbing or twisting the ropes. This is a brilliant belay device for any climber, it combines high performance with low weight and ease of use.
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I bought this ATC as a replacement for my old one only because the metal wire loop broke after 20 years of heavy punishment. It is not very often that an upgraded product works any better than its predecessor but in the case of this ATC from the outset it feels much better built than the old one. There is no discernable weight difference. It seems more stable on a belay karabiner and pays the rope out quicker. It also seems to arrest a fall with less force required to hold the rope whether it is an 8mm or an 11.5 mm one. After several days using it there is still not a scratch on it and it now feels as if I have been using it for years. It handles even better than the old version when it comes to abseiling. It dissipates the heat much quicker and in that respect feels safer to use on abseils and fall arresting. So far I havenít noticed any drawbacks. I am looking forward to another 20 years of heavy use.
Nice simple, easy to use belay device. It is a good all rounder - easy to pull rope through, and let out slack for lead climbers. Slight downside is that it has no extra friction, so if there is a large weight difference between climbers it can be hard to stop the rope from slipping if they take a long rest. Build quality is fantastic, as would be expected of a piece of BD equipment.
Great belay device, doesn't have the grooves for narrower ropes but I would say it's fine for 9.5mm+ ropes. Sturdy & tough, possibly the lack of grooves make it easier to let out the rope faster when belaying.
A great simple to use device that has no real faults. Don't think you can use super skinny ropes on them, but if you had them you might be thinking of something like the Petzl Reverso anyway for winter use.
Absolutely bombproof because of its simplicity, even the plastic cover on the main wire has stood up to about 5 years use and abuse with no sign of wear.
If you are after a first belay device that you don't need to worry about getting the rope on the right side for leading/second belaying etc then this could well be the one for you.
The ol' trusty belay device. Simple to use and accommodates twin ropes nicely. Ideal for novices as there is nothing scary to use as with a Gri Gri and is as effective at locking off facing around both ways.
Only gripe is that it doesnít have variable control frictions which many belay devices do which can be highly beneficial to new climbers but that is if Iím being picky!
The standard belay device in use at all climbing venues today. Lightweight and long lasting there is a reason why it's the standard! As it doesn't have the extra gripper along one side, it is best used if you are a competent belayer or when your partner isn't twice your weight.
If you are just starting out then might be better to opt to spend the extra few pound and get a belay device with slightly more grip.
There's a very good reason the ATC is such a popular belay device, and it's not just because it's been around longer than most of the competition. The ATC is an amazingly stress-free piece of equipment to use, as the feeding, locking and taking-in actions are super smooth. That means you can concentrate on paying attention to your climber, as the belay device deals with your actions without masses of effort from you.
Unfortunately, very product has a downside - even one which is as much of a pleasure to use as this. Although not as much of a problem if you only top-rope, if your climbing partner takes a big fall, there's less friction to lock off the rope with the ATC than some of the competition. Of course, if you've got a good grip and are paying attention the how much rope is in the system, it's not really a problem. If you need a bit more friction, you can always go for the ATC-XP...
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