Black Diamond ATC XP Review
Cons: 0.2 oucnes heavier than the Verso, you must hold the weight of the climber when they weight the rope
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond ATC XP
$24.95 at REI
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|$27.71 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Good friction control when rappelling and lowering, smooth paying out rope||Great for belaying seconds on multi-pitch climbs, durable, good value||Lightweight, easy to unlock, great for belaying two skinny ropes||Simple to use, great for belaying the follower, lightweight, feeds slack easily||Lightweight, smooth, compact|
|Cons||0.2 oucnes heavier than the Verso, you must hold the weight of the climber when they weight the rope||Heavier than the Reverso||Softer aluminum seems less durable, not ideal with ropes thicker than 9.5mm||No brake assist, more expensive than similar options, pivot function is rarely used||Weak lock off|
|Bottom Line||A simple design suited for building proper belay technique||An excellent value for multi pitch climbing, rappels, and double rope ascents||A match made in rock heaven for skinny ropes and climbers counting weight||A good alternative to auto-blocking tube devices, with a pivot function to help lower followers||A lightweight entry level belay device that gives our Best Buy winner a run for the money|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond ATC XP||Black Diamond ATC G...||Petzl Reverso||DMM Pivot||Petzl Verso|
|Catch and Bite (30%)|
|Lowering and Rappelling (30%)|
|Feeding Slack (20%)|
|Weight and Bulk (10%)|
|Auto Block (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond ATC XP||Black Diamond ATC G...||Petzl Reverso||DMM Pivot||Petzl Verso|
|Style||Tube style||Auto-block tube||Auto-block tube||Auto-block tube||Tube style|
|Recommended Rope Diameter||7.7 mm - 11 mm||7.7 mm - 11 mm||7.5 mm - 11 mm||8.7 mm - 11 mm||7.5 mm - 11 mm|
|Weight (oz)||2.2 oz||2.8 oz||2.2 oz||2.5 oz||2 oz|
|Double Rope Rap?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Belay off anchor?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The ATC XP is a classic tube-style manual belay device with additional friction grooves on one side.
Please don't misinterpret our discussion below, intended to help with purchasing decisions, for actual instruction. Be sure to check out the instruction manual put out by BD, and get actual instruction from a guide, gym, or friend before you attempt belaying.
With two friction modes, the ATC XP allows you to match the holding power to the circumstances. When top-roping with large, stiff gym ropes, regular friction mode can save you lots of energy. Flip it around and use the teeth for greater holding power catching a lead fall. We thought the ATC XP provided a similar bite to other similar devices. However, once someone was hanging on the rope, the XP locked off better and required less hand strength to keep the rope from sliding through.
Tube style devices require a great deal of hand strength to hold the weight of the climber, which can be fatiguing. This is one reason for the popularity of the active assisted devices, or passive assisted devices that use much the same motion to belay, but remove much of the effort of holding a hanging climber in place.
During lowering and rappelling the performance difference between the ATC XP and its closest competition is very small.
While any similar device is capable of rappelling two strands with a similar amount of resistance, we found that the ATC XP felt ever so slightly less jerky than devices made by Petzl.
Feeding slack with the ATC XP is nearly identical to other tube-style devices. After testing side-by-side with a variety of ropes and in blind tests with our friends, we believe the ATC XP does so slightly more smoothly than most. Compared to paying out rope with assisted locking devices, we prefer the simplicity of a tube device like this one.
The ATC XP weighs in at 2.2 ounces. This is just a touch heavier than its chief rival, the Petzl Verso.
Size-wise it's also a bit larger, with a longer wire cable and a wider main body. Neither of these differences was big enough to affect our purchasing recommendation. Overall it's tied for being the second lightest and smallest.
Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)
It's not safe to belay a follower directly off an anchor with this device, and we did not score it for this category. We compared other auto-block capable devices in our review, and you can see our scores for each one below.
The ATC XP is a competitively priced belay device. Although there are cheaper options available, we believe the added braking power of the XP is worth the added cost. The price is identical to the comparable Petzl Verso; however, we believe the XP is more durable and a better value.
The Black Diamond ATC XP is our favorite basic tube belay device. It's light and durable, and the two friction modes increase its versatility for different rope or friction situations. We like it most for new climbers still ingraining proper belay techniques or for experienced folks looking for a simple, reliable device that can do everything pretty well. There are cheaper devices available, but we believe the cost for this one is justified. It's also frequently on sale, so consider checking the "Where's the best price?" links at the top of this page to find a good deal.
Other Versions and Accessories
Black Diamond also makes our Top Pick for multi-pitch climbing, the ATC Guide. This device is similar to the ATC XP but with the ability to belay a follower from above directly off an anchor. A toothless tube option is available, too, as the classic Black Diamond ATC.
— Andy Wellman & Jack Cramer
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