9 Best ATC Belaying Device in 2024 | LydiaScapes

Best ATC Belaying Device

When it comes to top rope climbing, an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) is one of the most important pieces of rock climbing gadgets a belayer should posses. This belay device keeps your climber safe when high on the wall whether indoors or or outdoor climbing.

It is also an essential element in trad climbing and rappelling. Choosing the right ATC for you requires time and effort, which is why we’ve written this article! We’ve used a huge variety of different ATCs and they all have differing degree of quality and safety catches, and we know exactly what to look for in a quality one. Check out our list below to find some of our top favorites.

Best ATC Belaying Device

What is the Best ATC Belaying Device?

Below you’ll find the list of the top 9 Best ATC Belaying Device. We compiled this list from ATC belaying devices we have used, asked others about, and researched further to give you the best possible roundup. With many years of experience with ATC devices for belaying you can be assured that this article will give you what you’re looking for.

We also wrote a buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of this article.

1. Black Diamond Big Air XP Package

Black Diamond Big Air XP Package
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.11 pounds (0.05 kg)
Material: Aluminum, plastic

One of the best options for someone new to climbing, the Black Diamond Big Air Package comes with both an ATC and a locking carabiner, everything that you need to start belaying safely.

Additionally, the new Black Diamond ATC is 30% lighter, ensuring that you won’t have to carry any extra weight with you on your approach hike or multi-pitch climb. With its high friction mode, this aluminum ATC makes a durable and safe addition to your climbing gear.


  • Comes with locking carabiner
  • Extra lightweight design
  • High-friction mode offers extra stopping power
  • Safer than many other options
  • Strong teeth inside


  • Only comes in one color
  • More expensive than just purchasing an ATC

2. PETZL Grigri Belay Device

PETZL Grigri Belay Device
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.44 pounds (0.2 kg)
Material: Aluminum, stainless steel, nylon

The PETZL GriGri is an extremely safe and secure belay device fit for a wide variety of rope diameters, from 8.5 to 11mm. Its automatic braking system adds in an extra level of security, though it does take a bit of time getting used to, so may not be the best choice for beginners. However, it does come in a nice variety of colors to really make your gear pop.


  • Assisted braking system adds extra level of safety
  • Perfect for unexpected falls common in gym and sport climbing
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Greater descent control
  • Anti-panic handle


  • Premium pricing
  • Can only be used with single ropes
  • Best suited for experienced belayers, not beginners

3. Mammut Crag Light Belay Device

Mammut Crag Light Belay Device
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Material: Plastic

The Mammut Crag Light Belay Device is one of the more affordable ATC options on the market.

It has a very basic design, meaning that it is best fit for gym climbing or sport climbing, so if you plan on doing any multi-pitch or traditional climbing, this may not be the best option for you. However, it does have extra grooves for added friction, which makes it one of the safer choices on the market.


  • Budget friendly
  • Extra grooves for high-friction security
  • Lightweight tube style
  • Works for multiple rope types


  • Not suited for multi-pitch or traditional climbing
  • Only comes in one color

4. PETZL Verso Climbing Belay Device

PETZL Verso Climbing Belay Device
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.13 pounds (0.06 kg)
Material: Aluminum

The PETZL Verso ATC is your basic, all-around belay device that is perfect for gym climbing, multi-pitch climbing, and everything in between.

It is suitable for a wide variety of rope diameters and is well-suited for belaying two climbers simultaneously from the top of a pitch.


  • Suitable for any type of climbing
  • Comes in a wide range of colors
  • Suitable and safe for rappelling
  • Compatible with many ropes
  • User friendly


  • Color not always accurate

5. EDELRID Mega Jul Belay Device

EDELRID Mega Jul Belay Device
Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Material: Stainless steel, alloy steel

Though certainly one of the pricier options on the market, the EDELRID Mega Jul Belay Device is one of the most complete packages you can find. It fits a wide range of ropes, from 7.8-10.5 mm, and is perfect for both belaying and abseiling.

Additionally, it comes with a locking carabiner with a safety gate that prevents the device from cross loading.


  • Perfect for practically any type of climbing and lowering
  • Extra safe carabiner equipped with safety gate and locking capabilities
  • Extra lightweight device
  • High braking performance


  • Premium pricing
  • No markings on carabiner screw

6. CAMP Shell Belay Device

CAMP Shell Belay Device
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Material: Steel, plastic

Though perhaps the most affordable option on the market, the CAMP Shell ATC is quite limited in its uses.

It is really only appropriate for 10-11 mm ropes, so it is most apt for gym climbing, but this is not the belay device that you’ll want if you plan on climbing outside.


  • Designed for skinny ropes
  • Large rigging hole
  • Auto-block mode
  • Design prevents rubbing and jamming


  • Not suitable for lowering or outdoor climbing
  • Very limited in the rope diameter that you can use

7. DMM Pivot Belay Device

DMM Pivot Belay Device
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 1.59 pounds (0.72 kg)
Material: Aluminum

The DMM Pivot ATC is one of the most affordable, versatile options on the market.

It comes in a range of colors and offers multiple friction modes for a wide variety of uses, especially lowering. This is a great belay device for anyone looking for a first ATC.


  • Lightweight and affordable
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Pivot mode perfect for switching to lowering
  • Great rope control
  • Two friction modes


  • Doesn’t come with a carabiner

8. Mammut Smarter Belay Package

Mammut Smarter Belay Package
Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.18 pounds (0.08 kg)
Material: Aluminum

The Mammut Smarter Belay Package offers an assisted braking belay device at a more affordable price.

This option includes an automatic locking belay device and a locking carabiner with a safety gate. In contrast to the PETZL Grigri, it is a more appropriate option for beginner climbers. Not to mention, the colour is so pretty that will definitely attract many female climbers.


  • Affordable pack that comes with ABD and locking safety carabiner
  • Comes in two color options
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Safety gate prevents carabiner from rotating on harness
  • Extremely lightweight


  • Not the best choice for advanced climbers,
  • Not a universal style, so might be hard switching to other belay devices

9. Mad Rock Lifeguard

Mad Rock Lifeguard
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.26 pounds (0.12 kg)
Material: Stainless steel

The Mad Rock Lifeguard is our final belay device, and while it is more expensive than the Mammut Starter Pack, it is a more affordable option than the PETZL Grigri.

It can be used with single ropes ranging from 8.9 to 11 mm in diameter and is lightweight and durable.


  • Smooth descent
  • No-slip lock
  • Lightweight
  • Small, compact size


  • Not the most common belay device, so switching to other ones could be challenging
  • Can only be used with single ropes


Based on all of our experience with ATC devices for belaying, we found that Black Diamond Big Air XP Package is the best ATC belaying device available today.

Our Premium Option is PETZL Grigri Belay Device with all the best features and high-quality materials, but that’s only if you have more money to spend.

However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the Mammut Crag Light Belay Device as an affordable alternative.

Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:

What You Should Know Before Buying ATC belaying devices

Advantages and Benefits of ATC vs ABD

There are many advantages and benefits for both ATC and ABD. We should start out by making the distinction between an ATC and an ABD. An ATC, which originally stood for “air traffic controller”, refers to any tubular belay device. ATC belay devices are the most versatile, as they are suitable for any type of rope climbing and can also be used for rappelling.

On the other hand, assisted-braking belay devices (ABD) are more commonly used in sport climbing and gym climbing. They are a good option for often and/or unexpected falls, as their automatic locking features add an extra layer of security.

However, they tend to be heavier than an ATC device and cannot be used with two ropes, which is often necessary when traditional climbing. They are also not ideal lowering devices, ruling them out when it comes to rappelling.

Things to Look Out for That Differentiate ATCs

There are a number of features that differentiate the multiple ATC devices that are available on the market. First off, some ATC devices come with a locking carabiner, which will be a necessary feature when belaying.

So, if you don’t already have one, it may be a good idea to buy the two in a package deal. Additionally, you’ll want to pay attention to the weight of the ATC, as you’ll want something lighter if you plan on using it on multi-pitch routes.

Proper and Safe Usage

You need to know how to properly and safely use your ATC before going on your first climb with one. An ATC is a piece of equipment that requires special training to use properly, given that it can fail as a result of human error. Therefore, before using one, you should always receive proper instruction from a trained professional.

Additionally, you’ll always want to double check that your ATC is facing the right way and that your carabiner is locked before your climber sets off on their climb. Taking these simple precautions will ensure that everyone stays safe and secure.

Precautions to Consider

It is important to note that the safety of an ATC belay device depends on the competence of its user, so you should always be prepared and aware.

Unexpected falls or large weight differences between the climber and the belayer can pose risks, but as long as you are well-equipped to operate your ATC, you will have nothing to worry about. The automatic locking features of an ABD adds an extra layer of security, but just remember that these devices are not suitable for all types of climbing and lowering.

There are so many options on the market when it comes to choosing a belay device, and at the end of the day, making the right choice comes down to knowing your necessities and abilities.

However, our top pick is the Petzl Reverso. It is an affordable option that is apt for both beginner and advanced climbers and allows for quick and easy transitions into guide mode, allowing the user to switch between belaying and lowering in a flash.

Questions and Answers About ATC belaying devices

How do I pick the best ATC?

To pick the best ATC, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the type of rock climbing that you’ll be doing.
If you only single-pitch sport climb, a basic ATC or an ABD will be best suited for your needs. However, if you are interested in traditional or multi-pitch climbing, your ATC and belay device might need to have some added features like belaying from the top. Remember that some of these devices come with extra grip or tension, in the even you loosen your finger grip by mistake, it prevents the rope from running free.

What is the difference between GriGri vs. ATC?

There are a few differences between the GriGri and ATC. For those who may be unaware, the Petzl GriGri is also known as an ABD, the differences of which are mentioned above. The most important has to do with their emergency locking in the event of a fall. Personally, we like to rotate between the ATC and the GriGri depending on our climbs.

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