The Black Diamond ATC XP was one of our favorite manual belay devices and our Best Buy award winner for that category. At $22, it's not the absolute cheapest option. However, we believe the basic features it includes increase its value and warrants the modest added cost. The ATC XP is designed in the classic tube shape but with a pair of toothed grooves on one side for greater friction. According to BD, these grooves offer three times more stopping power than the smooth-sided, original ATC. We preferred the ATC XP over the similar Petzl Verso because it is more durable and required less hand strength to lock off a resting climber.
Its other competitors are the Petzl GriGri+ or 2 and the Black Diamond ATC Guide. The GriGri+ is our Editors' Choice winner for the best overall belay device. It is better than the ATC XP for gym belaying, sport climbing, and any situations where you have long belays, are locking off frequently, or the climber is falling a lot—or all three combined! However, you cannot do a two-strand rappel with a GriGri, so most climbers will still need a tube-style device even if that is their main one. Here's where the ATC XP comes in. At only 2.2 ounces, you can throw it in the lid of your cragging pack and forget about it, until you need it!
The ATC Guide is the better device if you're multi-pitch climbing and want to belay off the anchor, and it was our Top Pick for Multi-Pitch Climbing award winner.
Keeping things fresh, the ATC-XP is now offered in two new colors. Keep scrolling to check them out!