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Mammut Smart 2.0 Review

Not the most versatile option but good for single pitch climbing and those who don't like heavier active assisted braking devices.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $35 List | $20.89 at REI
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Pros:  Compact and lightweight for an assisted braking device, inexpensive
Cons:  Learning curve, limited use, uncomfortable when lowering
Manufacturer:   Mammut
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 21, 2018
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Catch and Bite - 30% 8
  • Lowering and Rappelling - 30% 6
  • Feeding Slack - 15% 7
  • Auto Block - 10% 0
  • Weight and Bulk - 10% 8
  • Durability - 5% 7

The Skinny

Mammut redesigned the passive locking Smart device for 2018, and our testers were impressed with the result. Retailing for only $35, the Smart 2.0 offers you the security of an assisted braking device at an affordable price. It's also lightweight and compact, but it's not the most versatile option. The 2.0 is for single-strand use only. The Smart Alpine (double-strand auto-locking device) has yet to be updated, so we'll have to wait and see if the improved changes on the 2.0 make it to the Alpine. There is a bit of a learning curve with this device, and while Mammut also sells a "Smarter" clip-on attachment to prevent misuse, we think brand new belayers will probably have an easier time with the Petzl GriGri+ and its anti-panic mechanism. If you've worn out your last GriGri and aren't looking forward to spending $100-150 for a new one, our Best Buy winner, the Smart 2.0 will save you a lot of money.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mammut Smart 2.0 is a "passive" assisted belay device. That means that there are no moving parts inside the Smart that cam or pinch the rope to slow it down. Instead, the rotation of the device against your carabiner is what creates the pinch. This device is rated for use with 8.7 to 10.5mm ropes, and Mammut recommends using their Smart HMS carabiner with this device (it has a safety gate to prevent cross-loading and unscrewing). We didn't have one of those on hand and tested it primarily with a Black Diamond Gridlock carabiner. Note that part of the way these passive lockers work requires a certain diameter on the carabiner that you are using, so you should ideally pair them with the recommended carabiner or with a larger H or HMS type locking carabiners from another manufacturer and not the smaller Type B or Basic locking carabiners.

Performance Comparison


New for 2018  the Smart 2.0 has improved braking function over the first generation. It also retails for an affordable price - only $35!
New for 2018, the Smart 2.0 has improved braking function over the first generation. It also retails for an affordable price - only $35!

Catch/Bite


We thought the catch and bite on this device was superior to that of the tube style devices, and we gave it an 8/10 for this category.


We always kept our brake hand down when belaying with the Smart, which is the recommended technique. Use of the old-school tube-style belay technique is not recommended (where you bring the brake rope above and parallel with the lead side to take in or give out slack. In fact, studies done on the older Smart show that without the hand in the proper brake position the device alone won't stop the climber (though the drop test video of the 2.0 does show it engaging without a tensioned brake hand). Mammut designed an extra little piece called the Smarter, that attaches to the top of the Smart and prevents the ropes from getting too close. They recommend this attachment for newer belayers who are still learning best practices. We didn't test the additional piece — it seems like a good idea, but it does costs an additional $13 and looks like something that can easily get lost.

The bite on the Smart is secure and created by the device pinching the rope. This takes the pressure off your brake hand a little  though you should always keep it securely around the rope.
The bite on the Smart is secure and created by the device pinching the rope. This takes the pressure off your brake hand a little, though you should always keep it securely around the rope.

The main advantage to the Smart and other passive devices over a traditional "tuber" is that you don't have to hold down so hard on your brake hand when the climber has weighted the rope. This doesn't mean that you can take it off completely, just that the device is pinching the rope enough that you can relax your grip a little. We did try opening our hands slightly in some situations to see if the rope would slide through or not, and it always held tight. That's a little more piece of mind that the device is working, but again you should always maintain control of the brake end.

Lowering/Rappelling


The Smart 2.0 requires a different method for lowering than most other devices. Since the device is "locked" when the climber weights the rope, loosening your grip should have no effect. There is no lever to pull back on, rather the device itself is the lever. While keeping your brake hand on the rope you pull up on the lever with your other thumb, which changes the orientation and reduces the pinch, and the rope starts to feed through.


We didn't like the lowering on this device as much as we did we its closest competitor, the Black Diamond ATC Pilot. The track on Smart is a little longer than on the Pilot, but the rope didn't always want to stay on it, and it was tiring to have to push up with our thumb so much. It also didn't feel as intuitive as lowering with the Pilot.

To lower a climber with the Smart  you are supposed to push your thumb up against the lever while still maintaining control of the rope with your brake hand (out of the frame below). This method made our hands feel tired and resulted in a jerky lower.
To lower a climber with the Smart, you are supposed to push your thumb up against the lever while still maintaining control of the rope with your brake hand (out of the frame below). This method made our hands feel tired and resulted in a jerky lower.

Mammut doesn't want you to lower by encircling your guide hand around the device and pushing the palm against it to break the pinch, which is how you lower with the Pilot. We did try lowering that way anyway, but the housing on the Smart has metal edges that dig into your palms a little when pushing on it. The Pilot's housing is all plastic and has a better hand feel than this one. If we were looking for a device solely for top roping, we'd go with the Pilot first over this one. However, we like the way the Smart feeds slack better (see below) which is why it edged out the Pilot for our Best Buy award.

The "incorrect" way to lower with a Smart. It's hard not to default to this position  especially when comparing it to the ATC Pilot because this is how you lower with that device. Instead  Mammut wants you to lift up the end with the thumb of your guide hand. Neither way felt particularly smooth.
The "incorrect" way to lower with a Smart. It's hard not to default to this position, especially when comparing it to the ATC Pilot because this is how you lower with that device. Instead, Mammut wants you to lift up the end with the thumb of your guide hand. Neither way felt particularly smooth.

Feeding Slack


If you've been belaying the same way for 20 years, you may not like this device — and/or you might end up short-roping your partner a bit while you get used to it! Belaying with the Smart 2.0 might take some getting used to, as it's completely different from most tube style devices and most active assisted braking devices. While you can pay out slack slowly as with a tuber, when you want to give a lot of slack you have to disengage the device by pushing upwards on the lever with the thumb of your brake hand (with the rest of your hand still around the rope). This lets you pull up lots of slack with your other hand relatively smoothly.


While not as smooth or intuitive as a tuber at first, once you've become accustomed to the technique it works well, particularly when compared to the Pilot. The lever on the Smart is more sensitive to pressure and doesn't require as much force as the Pilot to disengage it. We had to press quite hard on the Pilot and keep a consistent outward pressure, whereas the Smart needed less pressure and fed smoother. We tested this device with a newer 9mm and a "fuzzy" 9.7mm and found that it fed slack out much easier with a skinnier rope. This device is ambidextrous though, so lefties might appreciate its feed even more.

Lead belaying with the Smart. Note how the belayer keeps the rope within the grasp of their brake hand while pushing up with that thumb. That pressure allows you to pull slack out quickly with your guide hand without the device locking up.
Lead belaying with the Smart. Note how the belayer keeps the rope within the grasp of their brake hand while pushing up with that thumb. That pressure allows you to pull slack out quickly with your guide hand without the device locking up.

Auto Block (resistance belaying a second)


We did not test this model for its auto-block resistance as it is not designed for this purpose. If you like this model but want something that you can belay off an anchor with, check out the Mammut Smart Alpine. It can accommodate two ropes and has the necessary loop for belaying off the anchor. It was one of our favorite options for using in auto-block mode as it provided less resistance than the ATC Guide, Petzl Reverso, or Edelrid MegaJul. However, the setup is a little complex so be sure to read the instructions carefully.


Weight/Bulk


This device weighs a scant 2.7 ounces, which is a significant difference from the heavier assisted braking devices.


It is a few ounces lighter than the Black Diamond ATC Pilot, but a hair bulkier, so we called it a draw for this category. If you are looking for something lighter to replace your GriGri with, this could be what you are looking for.

The Smart 2.0 (left) and ATC Pilot (right) have a similar weight and size. It will likely be a personal preference whether you prefer one model over the other.
The Smart 2.0 (left) and ATC Pilot (right) have a similar weight and size. It will likely be a personal preference whether you prefer one model over the other.

Durability


We expect the Smart to have a lifespan similar to a tube-style device. (Note that we assessed wear after four months of regular use, but have not used it through its entire lifespan yet since it was only released this year.)


The parts that will see the most wear are mainly stainless steel, though the track on the lever is plastic. We weren't sure what concerned us more, the plastic lever on this device or the plastic housing on the Pilot. The rope needs to run off the end of the track on the Smart and not the sides, which have right-angles and could sharpen if you lower with the rope off to the side. Note that if you've been using the same belay carabiner on your GriGri for five years, you can't expect it to last as long with the Smart. The wear on the GriGri is all inside the mechanism, whereas the rope runs through your carabiner on the Smart and will wear it down similar to a tube device.

While there are stainless steel inserts inside the device  the main track is plastic. Time will tell if it wears out sooner than the Pilot. Don't bring the rope over the sides though  as those right-angled edges will get sharper.
While there are stainless steel inserts inside the device, the main track is plastic. Time will tell if it wears out sooner than the Pilot. Don't bring the rope over the sides though, as those right-angled edges will get sharper.

Best Applications


This device is great for single-pitch climbing uses. We preferred it for lead belaying rather than top-roping. It also felt better with skinnier ropes, so if you're still climbing on 10.2mm lines, you might have a harder time feeding slack with the Smart 2.0.

Value


The Smart 2.0 retails for $35, which is a bit less than the ATC Pilot ($45). If you choose to buy the "Smarter" add-on, it will bring the total up to $48. Alternatively, you can purchase it with the Smart HMS carabiner for $45, which is a good value.

Conclusion


Passive assisted braking devices have elicited a lot of "whys?" from people when they spotted us testing them out at the crag. Think of them as a cross between a GriGri and an ATC. If you're partial to tube-style devices but want some extra holding power and security, then the Smart 2.0 is a great choice. If you've always used a GriGri but are open to trying something lighter and less expensive, the Smart also fills that bill.


Cam McKenzie Ring