Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Great guides device, durable friction grooves
Cons: Heavy, bulky, hard to feed thick ropes in guides mode
Best Uses: multi pitch climbing
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond ATC Guide is a tough rappel/guides belay device. It is more affordable than the Petzl Reverso 3 and more durable, but not as smooth in some situations.
The ATC Guide is the toughest and heaviest auto-blocking device tested. We know many guides in Yosemite and elsewhere that use the ATC Guide year after year. It belays a leader well and locks off especially well with smaller ropes when in guides mode. It is $7 less than the Petzl Reverso 3, but does not handle the rope as smoothly in fatter-rope situations. If you are looking for the most durable auto-blocking device, this is it. Otherwise, we recommend the Reverso 3 for ropes under 10mm and the Mad Lock for ropes 10mm or greater. If you do not multi-pitch climb and belay off the anchor much, we recommend the Black Diamond ATC XP or the Wild Country VC Pro 2. Read our complete Best Belay Device Review to see how this belay device compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The ATC Guide works great when paying rope out to a leader, locks quickly in guides mode and is very durable. When lowering climbers or rappelling with a 9.4mm rope, we felt we had more friction control than the Madlock, but less than the Reverso 3.
The ATC Guide was 10 percent harder on our elbows than the Reverso 3 when belaying in guides mode with 10mm ropes. Since belaying off the anchor is the main reason to get this device, we found this a pretty big drawback. The ATC Guide is also heaver than the Reverso 3. Not by a ton, but we definitely noticed it.
When the rope is 10mm or bigger, The ATC Guide has noticeably high friction when belaying off the anchor. The Mad Lock, Cinch or Petzl GriGri were smoother, but only work with one rope.
Running up Nutcracker or Serenity Crack with a team of two or three? Heading up a classic Sierra alpine route? Free climbing on demanding multi-pitch routes? The ATC Guide works well in all these applications.
For $28 you get a tough guides belay device that is $7 less than the Petzl Reverso 3 and $8 more than the Mad Lock. This is a great buy if longevity and versatility are your highest concerns when purchasing an auto-blocking device.
Videos from Black Diamond
— Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 7, 2013
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