Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, compact, smooth rope handling
Cons: Not durable, too much friction on ropes bigger than 10mm
Best Uses: Autoblock belaying, lead climbing, rappel, fast and light climbs
Petzl's Reverso 3 is probably the best all-around belay device we tested for multi-pitch climbing. It's lightweight, compact and great for belaying in autoblock mode (off the anchor) or directly off the climbing harness. It is not cheap, but it is worth it as this is the smoothest belay/rappel/guide's device we tested. It is the most common belay device guides or experienced trad climbers use, whether in Yosemite or on The Diamond.
The Petzl Reverso 3 is like a sports car. It has sleek curves, excellent handling and is smooth to use. Nine times out of 10 we belay directly off the anchor when multi-pitch climbing so we need a great autoblock device. On big Yosemite free climbing routes, we found our arms stayed fresher with the Reverso 3 as long as the rope was skinnier than 10mm. After a long day of getting high off the ground, you have to come down, and the Reverso 3 is extremely smooth for rappelling. It is pricey but worth every penny if you use it in auto-block mode. If you primarily belay off the anchor with thick ropes, then we recommend the Mad Lock, Petzl GriGri or Trango Cinch. The best carabiner to use with the Reverso 3 is the Petzl Attache or the Petzl Attache 3D. The combo of the Attache 3D and the Reverso 3 is the lightest multi-pitch belay device/locking carabiner set up we know of.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Reverso 3 excels at belaying off the anchor in auto-block mode with skinny ropes. The Reverso 3 has smoother handling than the Black Diamond ATC Guide with ropes in the 8.5-9.5 range. Most guides and people who belay off the anchor prefer this belay devices because it is 10-20 percent easier to pull in rope than with most other devices. Whether belaying on a 9.5mm or slinky 8.5mm, the Reverso was great.
As a regular "off the waist" device, the Reverso 3 performed well. We caught a few falls with it and always found it responsive. It payed out rope about as well as any device on the market.
When the climbing rope size is 10mm or bigger, there is a lot of friction when belaying off the anchor. Compared to the Mad Lock, Trango Cinch or Petzl GriGri, it was a real pain to belay off the anchor with a 10.2mm rope. There was just too much friction.
The Reverso 3 is not that durable as a rappel device, especially when compared to the Black Diamond ATC Guide. Heavy rappelling sessions showed wear on the Reverso 3. Chris Van Leuven rapped from high on El Capitan (read: bailed) and Leaning Tower (bailed again) using the Reverso 3 for all these pitches and the rope ground down the V-shaped friction channels noticeably. Most guides find the Reverso 3 will only last a season before the friction grooves are worn down.
This Petzl belay device excels on multi-pitch climbs if you are using skinny climbing rope. It is most people's go-to device for multi-pitch climbing. It is so light that there is almost never a reason not to have one on your harness.
CVL took the Reverso 3 into the Fisher Towers, mulitpitch climbs in Eldo and big wall free climbing in Yosemite. It is the best nonauto locking device he found for use in any situation.
When Chris McNamara was doing a lot of testing at Mission Cliffs, he would occasionally loan out devices for other climbers to test. This was the one device that never got returned. It is apparently worth stealing or "forgetting to return."
$35 aint cheap. For $28 you can get the Black Diamond ATC Guide or for $20, you can get the Mad Rock Mad Lock. But most testers felt the Reverso 3 is worth the extra money, despite the fact that it wears out fast. It is just that good.
The below video from Petzl shows the Reverso 3 in action and the video below that shows how to use the Reverso 3
— Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: April 2, 2011
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