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Hands-on Gear Review

Petzl Reverso 4 Review


Belay Device

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: October 5, 2014
Price:   $30 List | Varies from $24 - $33 online
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Pros:  Lightweight, easy to unlock, great for belaying two skinny ropes
Cons:  Expensive, not the most durable, not ideal with ropes thicker than 9.5mm
Manufacturer:   Petzl
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ September 26, 2014  
The precursor, the Petzl Reverso 3, was our favorite belay device for multi-pitch climbing. The four is even lighter and better. However, we now just barely prefer the Black Diamond ATC Guide because it is a little smoother with thicker ropes, more durable, and costs less. That said, if you use skinny ropes, the Reverso 4 might be the best option and there is not lighter way to belay two ropes off an anchor.

Check out the SuperTopo discussion on the Reverso 4 Also check out our complete Belay Device Review.

RELATED: Our complete review of belay device

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Changes From the Reverso 3 to the Reverso 4

According to the Petzl web site, there are two main differences between the Reverso 3 and 4:
  • the 4 is 25% lighter at 59 grams
  • the 4 has a larger carabiner hole to make releasing the device after it locks up much easier. With the 3, you could only get the nose of some carabiners like the Petzl Spirit to release the device after it was loaded and locked up. Both are great improvements to us.


Petzl's Reverso 4 is one of the best all-around belay devices 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 one of 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 4 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 4 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 ATC Guide, 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.


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 4 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 4 will only last a season before the friction grooves are worn down. That said, more moderate users will likely not notice much of a durability issue.

Best Application

This 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.

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."


$36 aint cheap. For $30 you can get the Black Diamond ATC Guide. But most testers felt the Reverso 4 is worth the extra money, despite the fact that it wears out fast. It's a fine difference between the two. Is weight your primary concern? Get the Reverso 4. Do you use thicker ropes and want to save $6, then get the ATC Guide.

The below video from Petzl shows how to use the Reverso 4

Other Versions

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Petzl Verso
  • ATC Style belay device without extra 'guide mode' loops
  • Best with skinny ropes
  • Ideal for sport climbing
  • $20

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Petzl GriGri 2
  • Editors' Choice Award Winner!
  • Gold standard auto locking belay device
  • 8.9mm to 11mm ropes
  • 20% smaller and lighter than previous version
  • $100

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Petzl Attache 3D or
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Petzl Attache
  • Both are great carabiners to couple with a belay device
  • The Petzl Attache has round stock that makes for smoother belaying
  • $21

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Petzl Cordex Belay Gloves
  • Soft, flexible leather
  • Burly construction, built to last
  • Excellent belay glove
  • $36

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: October 5, 2014
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   Oct 5, 2014 - 11:06am
Jon Rhoderick · Climber · Terrebonne
One thing that people do not mention in the ATC Guide vs Reverso debate is that a Reverso can fit 2 non locking carabiners through the guide mode hole. To me this is a significant advantage as it reduces the need for a locking carabiner, which can disappear into anchoring systems in multipitch scenarios. To reduce the force require to pull the rope through the device, put another biner along with the locker the rope feeds through, this will help a little bit.
The one minus is that it is certainly easier to pull rope through a grigri or minitraxion compared to a Reverso in guide mode.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Petzl Reverso 4
Credit: Petzl
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