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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl Reverso 4 Review
Cons: Softer aluminum seems less durable, not ideal with ropes thicker than 9.5mm
Bottom line: A match made in rock heaven for skinny ropes and climbers counting weight.
In our old review the Petzl Reverso 4's predecessor, the Reverso 3, was our favorite belay device for multi-pitch climbing. Both are tube designs with auto-block capability that function well at belaying a leader, rappelling, or top roping. And the four is even lighter and better. However, we now just barely prefer the Black Diamond ATC Guide because it's smoother when belaying a follower off an anchor, and more durable. That said,the Reverso 4 is an ounce lighter and if you use skinny ropes, it might be the better option.
You can check out nine other devices in the complete Belay Device Review.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Climbing Belay Device
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Reverso is a tube-style belay device with auto-block capability.
It was difficult for us to accurately determine the difference in catch between the simple tube devices. The Reverso 4 seemed to bite as well as the Petzl Verso, Black Diamond ATC Guide, ATC XP. The one variation we observed though was the hand strength required to lock off and hold a resting climber in place. The enlarged hole on the new Reverso 4 for releasing a weighted rope in auto-block mode got in the way when we were trying to lock off. This means it requires slightly more strength to hold the rope still with the Reverso 4 than with the ATC Guide.
With two friction channels, the Reverso is capable of rappelling two ropes. There are also two options for orienting the belay bight; use the teeth for higher friction or smooth things out in the other direction. In blind tests with the Black Diamond ATC Guide we found the Reverso 4 ever so slightly more jerky.
All of the classic tube-style devices feed slack out to a leader consistently well. Unlike the assisted braking models, there is little chance of getting into a short roping tug of war with a device that has no levers or cams to depress. Each tube device performed slightly better or worse depending on the texture and stiffness of the rope used, so it's hard for us to generalize. However, in our tests we liked the Reverso most with smaller diameter ropes (in the sub-9.5mm range).
Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)
At 2.2 oz, the Reverso 4 is tied for the second lightest belay device overall and is the lightest to offer auto-block mode for belaying a second off an anchor. Its closest competitor, the Black Diamond ATC Guide, weighed a full ounce more and was slightly larger.
Edelrid Mega Jul, or other tube devices. We've even heard some guides say they choose to replace their Reverso once a year after the friction grooves wear down. More moderate users can expect to get several years of use.
The Reverso's combination of low weight and auto-block capability make it great for alpine multi-pitch routes or anything far from the road. Furthermore, its superior performance with skinnier ropes (down to 7.5mm) strengthens its case for use with twin or half ropes.
The Reverso 4 and ATC Guide now retail at the same price, $29.95. This is cheaper than all the other devices we tested capable of follower belays directly off an anchor. However, the ATC Guide was more durable in our tests, making it the better value. If your climbing plans include even an occasional multi-pitch route, we suggest you fork up the extra $8 to get one of these auto-block devices over the cheaper basic versions.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Reverso 4 is also available as part of package marketed as the Unireverso that includes a Reverso 4, Attache locking carabiner, and a 'sliding connection piece' that keeps the belay device in the optimal position on the carabiner. Petzl also makes the Editors' Choice-winning GriGri 2 and the basic tube Petzl Verso.
— Jack Cramer
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