Hands-on Gear Review

Petzl Verso Review

As seen in this image  The Petzl Verso is extremely compact (it's the smallest tube style device tested in this review). It's lightweight and well crafted.
Price:  $22 List | $19.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, smooth, compact
Cons:  Expensive, weak lock off
Bottom line:  A lightweight entry level belay device that gives our Best Buy winner a run for the money.
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  tube style
Recommended Rope Diameter:  7.5 mm - 11 mm
Weight (oz):  2.0 oz.
Manufacturer:   Petzl

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Our Verdict

The Petzl Verso is one of two basic tube belay devices we included in this review. It's the lightest and smallest of all and features the same smooth rope handling as its more popular cousin, the Petzl Reverso 4. That device is the Verso plus an additional clip-in point for belaying followers off an anchor. At $21.95, the Verso and the Black Diamond ATC XP are tied for the most affordable and are our recommendations for people new to climbing. Both do a capable job catching falls, feeding slack, or rappelling. We prefer the ATC XP, however, because it's more durable and locked off resting partners stronger. This difference though is minuscule, so if you can find the Verso on sale don't hesitate to get it instead of the ATC XP.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Climbing Belay Device


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Our Analysis and Test Results


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Review by:
Jack Cramer

Last Updated:
Sunday
January 31, 2016

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The Verso is a classic tube-style manual belay device with additional friction grooves on one side and is the lightest device in our review.

Performance Comparison


Basic tube devices like the Verso are cheap and can do it all--top rope or lead belays  rappelling  and lowering. That's why their our favorite for beginner climbers.
Basic tube devices like the Verso are cheap and can do it all--top rope or lead belays, rappelling, and lowering. That's why their our favorite for beginner climbers.

Catch/Bite


It is hard to differentiate between the catch of the Verso and the Black Diamond ATC XP. Both provide good braking strength in their higher friction modes for catching lead falls. When locking off a resting climber, however, we noticed the three teeth on ATC XP (vs. the Verso's two) produced greater friction, saving our grip strength for climbing instead of belaying. This cost the Verso a point in this category.

Lowering/Rappelling


The rappelling and lowering performance of the Verso was pleasant and very similar to other tube devices we tried.
The rappelling and lowering performance of the Verso was pleasant and very similar to other tube devices we tried.
Lowering and rappelling is very similar with all the classic tube devices. Each is capable of rappelling double strands and locking off when you need to do some untangling. We tried to test them with lots of different ropes to identify subtler differences. Ultimately, we found the Verso (and Reverso) provided slightly more friction than the Black Diamond competition. This might demonstrate why the Petzl devices are approved down to 7.5 mm instead of BD's 7.7 mm limit.

Feeding Slack


Like catch and lowering, feeding slack was also nearly identical between the tube devices. Devices of this style are the simplest and our favorite for feeding slack to a leader because they let us do so with the least possible hand movements. We did notice a tiny bit more jerkiness pulling rope through the Verso than the ATC XP, but both devices were two of our favorites.

Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)


The Verso is not designed to be used to belay a follower directly off an anchor. In a multi-pitch situation you can use it to belay directly off your harness or redirected through the anchor. We examine eight devices capable of auto-block mode in The Best Climbing Belay Device Review, including the Verso's Petzl cousin, the Reverso 4.

Weight/Bulk


The body and wire loop on the Black Diamond ATC XP (left) are both larger than the Petzl Verso (right). The difference wasn't large enough to have a significant impact on our scoring.
The body and wire loop on the Black Diamond ATC XP (left) are both larger than the Petzl Verso (right). The difference wasn't large enough to have a significant impact on our scoring.
Weighing in at 2.0 oz, the Verso is the lightest and smallest belay device we tested. The difference wasn't enormous though, three devices came within 0.3 oz of it, but this is the ideal choice for weight conscious minimalists.

Durability


The aluminum used to make Petzl tube-style devices seems to be a little softer than some of the other companies. Although we would expect the Verso to withstand several years of heavy use, we don't think it will last as long as the Black Diamond ATC XP.

Best Applications


The Verso and other tube-style devices are ideal for beginning climbers learning the basics of belaying. The compact, lightweight Verso could also be useful to experienced climbers that like to belay with an active assisted locking device but still need something small and light for the occasional two strand rappel.

Value


At $21.95, the Petzl Verso isn't the cheapest belay device on the market but it is the cheapest we chose to include in this review. Like the identically priced Black Diamond ATC XP, it's frequently on sale so look around if you're on a budget.

Conclusion


The exceptionally low weight of the Verso makes it a sensible choice for alpine routes far from the road.
The exceptionally low weight of the Verso makes it a sensible choice for alpine routes far from the road.
Overall the Verso fulfills its role as a basic tube-style belay device. These designs are great for new or experienced climbers that appreciate simplicity and a good deal. When compared with its direct competition in this class though, the Black Diamond ATC XP, we noticed a few small drawbacks in lock-off strength and durability. Nevertheless, the Verso is a capable belay device and well worth your consideration.
Jack Cramer

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Most recent review: January 31, 2016
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