Hands-on Gear Review
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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
Best Uses: Multi pitch traditional climbing
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.
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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:
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.
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
The Petzl Verso, $22, is the lightest and most expensive of all the manual belay devices tested. It has the same superior smoothness as the popular Reverso 3, which is the Verso plus additional auto block clipin point but is much smaller. The Verso has well designed friction grooves for managing small ropes and a well-designed clip-in loop.
The Universo Belay System, $45, is a complete and lightweight belay system that is particularly comfortable and efficient to use on all rope diameters. This system is composed of a REVERSO 4 belay device and an ATTACHE locking carabiner, held in optimal position by a sliding connection piece.
A different type of belay device made by Petzl is the auto-locking Petzl GriGri 2, $100, which wins our Editor's Choice Award. The GriGri 2 now works on 8.9-11mm ropes, is 20 percent lighter and 25 percent smaller.
— Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: October 5, 2014
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