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 preferred 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.
Petzl Verso Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, smooth, compact
Cons: Weak lock off
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Verso is a classic tube-style manual belay device with additional friction grooves on one side and is the lightest device in our review.
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 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.
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 our review, and the Black Diamond ATC Guide was our Top Pick.
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 ounces of it), but this is the ideal choice for weight conscious minimalists.
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.
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.
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 tight budget.
Overall the Petzl 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