Different Types Of Belay Device

By Matt GerholdLast update: 2023-10-22

If you have ever participated in climbing trips at an altitude of over 500m with professional athletes who have passed many competitions and have good climbing techniques in all cases, then you will know about wearable devices. How the belly fit the trip and myself. In the impossible case, your partner falls and is far from the definite target and they also affect you at that time, including the leg of the person next to you slipping and losing control. And they will fall from above. At that point, you have to brace yourself against the rock, and look down so that any debris that falls on you from above falls on the helmet. In the meantime, using brake assist can greatly assist you in avoiding serious injury or falling on the ground.

The belay device is known to use the friction of the bend of the rope to catch the person falling and must lower the climber. At present, there are three types of belay climbing: tubular brake climbing, power-assisted brake climbing and eight-shaped brake climbing. In general, depending on the material it is made of, they will have different prices, usage, safety features and level of brake assist.

On the other hand, the main purpose of the belay device is to help you put on the rope, manage the rope while climbing, help the climber to prevent falls, and lower the climber after hitting the ground. Moreover, belay devices are also used for climbing or sliding down cliffs. In addition, some belay devices offer more safety features than most, and they require less handling.

Remarkably, you will not be able to climb with others without belt devices, thanks to them, they will help you control the rope to go up a lot, limiting the uncontrolled fall. Almost, your mountaineering trip depends on a belay device. There are many different pieces of equipment on the market, which we have mentioned above, but anyway depending on the type of climbing you will probably choose to use a belay device at the gym or an outdoor space. It is important that no matter what belt you use, you must not take the handbrake off the belt while wearing it. And you should practice continuously before starting a long trip, thereby forming a more stable habit and reflex. Below are some belay device gear that we would like to share.

1. Tubular belay device

Tubular belay device is a type of device most used by professional mountain climbers, they are known as tubular belay device (ATC), meaning "air traffic controller". Knowing that, the ATC is a specific model created from the Black Diamond brand. Usually tubes have no moving parts, they will work with a locking carabiner and a rope or two. Besides, tubular belay devices can be used for almost all types of climbing such as sport, business, gym, multi-pitch and ice climbing. There are two slot shapes that also work for traditional rappelling.

In general, people would use them as a bight, with a bend of rope to get through a groove, then just clip the locking carabiner through the ring and attach the tubular belay device to the belt loop on the climber's harness . Thanks to the friction created by the contact of the rope with the belt device, it can help stop the friction of the rope when falling, in addition, some have additional ridges for friction. Next, use the handbrake to hold the end of the rope free to increase friction and keep the weight of the climber balanced.

This type of Tubular belay device is usually lightweight, easy to use and inexpensive, plus they accommodate a wide range of rope diameters and can operate in a variety of climbing styles. However, this belay device is still less supportive for the climber in supporting the weight. As a result, the belayers can be tiring, on which the tubulars are an ineffective choice.

On the other hand, some tubular belay devices almost act as brake assist in guide mode. Prove they will have another attachment point for strapping from an anchor, which is ideal for straps from the top of the route when engaging higher elevation styles. From there, you can attach the strapping device directly to the anchor instead of the harness. And they are quite appropriate, the part about some other tubular devices that can be set up as an effective brake aid between two people.

2. Assisted braking belay device

The assisted braking belay device is an automatic stopping, auto-locking, self-braking or self-locking device, a rope-locking assist brake device to help climbers easily grip and keep people stationary when climbing and avoid falling. In fact, there will be two types of this assisted braking belay device: passive and active.

  • Passive assisted braking belay device is an automatic device similar to the tubular belay device, but it is clamped between the devices and carabiners are used to stop ropes. However, you still must not be subjective and should pay attention when using passive devices. Passive does not necessarily mean inactive due to the fact that the type of brake assist device has no moving parts. They are useful for those looking to cross mountains and are usually lighter than active brake assist devices. There will usually be two active slots for traditional rappelling. In contrast, this type tends to lock in, the case when your climber is heavier than you.
  • Active assisted braking belay devices will contain moving parts, you can see them in the gym and outside for multi-court sports, trading and climbing. However, they are mainly used for solo climbing. Instead of clamping the rope between the belay devices and the belt, these assist brakes use an internal clamping mechanism to clamp the rope, locking the rope when the climber falls. In general, they are quite safe, easier to control but the most expensive on the market and cannot be used for a traditional rappel as they contain only one rope. And especially not used for ice climbing. More practice to be able to drop the rope effectively. Very suitable for sport climbing, gym climbing, multi-industry climbing.

Besides, the assisted braking belay device whether you are a beginner in the pursuit of climbing, a top rope climber or a follower on a multi-level climb.

In short, with any strapping device, it's imperative that you always use proper belt technique and have your handbrake ready to lock the straps. You should also be sure to read the instructions carefully and do not forget to practice before climbing.

Regarding the advantage of the assist barking belay device, which is to prevent the climber from falling, the combination of power-assisted braking devices with a deceleration mechanism makes it easy to lower people and have good control. But you should also check the parameters carefully before buying and this type is quite heavy for belay devices with cushioning mechanism, not suitable for use with wet or icy ropes. In addition, they have an assist mode that will be locked when installed in this mode, making them difficult to use as lowering devices.

3. Figure eight belay device

The figure eight belay device is used for search and rescue cases, it has an appearance similar to the figure eight which also works to prevent lag. And this one is made of metal and it's designed with one top hole and one bottom hole that's bigger and doesn't contain moving parts. The way they work is to first do a bit on the rope and pass it through the big hole. Next loop the bearings around the outside of the small hole until it rests on the neck of the figure eight. Then you clip a carabiner buckle through the small hole and onto the hoop on the climbing harness. Just keep using the handbrake to keep the end of the rope free to create friction and balance the weight of the climber.

Overall, the figure eight belay device is mainly used for climbing. As for straps, different devices have different practices for securing the cord through the device. Therefore, when buying, you should learn how to set it up properly.

It is almost the least expensive of its kind, and along with the rope moves quickly and smoothly during steep climbs, it can accommodate a wide variety of wire diameters. However, they are still not recommended for belayer beginners as the rope moves fast while the harness requires a lot of force and attention from the belayer, as they will put a twist in the vines which can cause difficulty for wire handling.

And when it comes to belay equipment, to see which one is right for you you can try on different types by renting from a gym or borrowing from other climbers before you buy. But if you climb different types of routes with different partners, you may need more belays to increase your climbing efficiency. Whichever form you choose, aim to be comfortable when using the belay device.

One piece of information to give you, if you are a beginner, you need to check the manufacturer's instructions for each device or watch online videos and observe how to use them. If you have time, you can go to local gyms to learn how to use the equipment under live instructions. Limit the exposure of climbing equipment to the sun, especially in the summer, for a long time because environmental impacts will reduce the performance of the belay device.


Finally, in order to have a good belay climbing, it is necessary to look carefully at the brands in the market because many companies have produced many different belay climbs. Also pay attention to the comparison between types, in terms of shape, materials, most popular features, type of climbing suitable for belay device. The important thing, you should practice through to feel them well and comfortable. If you're new, try the older varieties and start from there, and always bring plenty of locked carabiners for any climb. Thank you for reading.

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