Belay Device

In the history of climbing, belay devices have undergone a turbulent evolution from mind bogling hip belays to fully automated (rope) locking mechanical devices. This article is dedicated to the ATC belay device which is currently the most common used all around belay and rappel device for rock climbers in the world. It’s simple lightweight design, multi-functionality and maximum brake strength make it a necessity on every climber’s rack.

variety of belay devices

Even within the familiy of ATC-type devices, there are different versions with added functionality. However, the basic idea of a mechanical brake device remains the same throughout all models from oldschool “Sticht” plate device to modern ATC. Check out the main ones:

1.Simple ATC Belay device

  • great for belaying and rappelling
  • lightweight (no extras)
  • easy use (“belay rope” and “climber’s rope” can go over either side)

inside page ATC simple

2. Simple ATC Belay Device with teeth

  • great for belaying and rappeling
  • extra grip on rope through teeth
  • usually slightly heavier
  • minimal less wear and tear on rope
  • preferably have “belay rope” go over teethed part

inside page ATC with teeth

3. ATC Guide Belay Device

  • great for belaying and rappelling
  • extra grip on rope through teeth
  • heavier because of added “guide’s mode” clip
  • auto-locks when belaying directly off anchor in “guide’s mode”

ATC guide belayATC guide belay in action

4. Solo thread ATC belay device:

  • belay only
  • limited use
  • recommended for sport climbing without rappelling


ATC sport device