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Community News How to choose and use the right belay device

How to choose and use the right belay device

Regardless of the type or style of belay device, all are designed with a common universal belay technique in mind. Choosing the right belay device when climbing should be based on several criteria. The first is use: are you belaying a climber on lead or on top rope, belaying a second, or are you planning to rappel? Next is rope diameter... In this article, learn more about how to choose the right belay device for the type of climbing you do.

March 27 2019

Rock climbing

Belay devices: what types?

To address each use and every user, Petzl offers two types of device: 

  • assisted-braking belay devices
  • belay/rappel devices

Assisted-braking belay devices

  • Principle: when the climber falls, the device pivots on the carabiner, the rope tightens, and the cam pinches and blocks the rope. Holding the brake side of the rope helps engage the cam, so it always important to hold the brake side of the rope. To lower the climber on top rope, the belayer gradually pulls the release handle, without letting go of the brake side of the rope. While the handle helps to adjust friction, the descent is always controlled by the hand gripping the brake side of the rope.
  • Advantages:
  1. Assisted braking in case the climber falls.
  2. Very useful for working a route, whether trying a move over and over or holding the climber when resting... 
  3. The progressive, easy-to-control rope feed provides a smooth and comfortable descent.

Belay/rappel devices

  • Principle: when the climber falls, the brake hand grips the rope and pulls it downward, pressing the rope into the grooved V-shaped channels, increasing the friction until the rope stops. To lower, the belayer uses both hands on the brake-side of the rope to control the descent.


    Grooved V-shaped friction channels
  • Advantages:
  1. Simple, compact and lightweight device.
  2. Compatible with single, half, and twin dynamic ropes.
  3. Comfortable when rappelling through the effective friction grooves.

 

Choosing your belay device

How to use a belay device

For all belay devices, feeding slack and catching falls are done using standard universal belay techniques; always keep a hand on the brake side of the rope.

A) Hand position: 

This hand position is valid regardless of the device used: GRIGRI, REVERSO, VERSO... Your hand must never let go of the brake side of the rope.

B) Paying out slack: 

To pay out slack, your brake-side hand pushes the rope towards the device, creating slack; your other hand pulls the rope through the device. To repeat this movement, slide your brake-side hand along the rope, without ever letting it go.

C) Taking up slack: 

To take up slack, pull in the climber side of the rope and pull the brake side of the rope through the device. Never let go of the brake side of the rope.

 

Tech tips

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