Not long ago Black Diamond released the ATC-Pilot--a brand new assisted braking belay device that’s perfect for the gym or the crag. I was skeptical at first since there are numerous similar devices already on the market, but I’m a huge gear nerd so I had to try it out.
The body is plastic to make it lightweight where strength isn’t a concern. Don’t worry, all the load-bearing components are steel! Belaying on top rope felt like I was using a regular ATC except for that nifty assisted braking function. Lowering my climber was particularly smooth… dare I say better than the original ATC? Just pinch the belay device with your non-dominant hand and tilt it towards you to control your lowering speed. When feeding out slack for a lead climber, all you have to do is push up on the thumb catch with your brake hand (without letting go of course). Once you do that, you disengage the locking function and you can feed out slack easily with your free hand. Catching a climber was a breeze and the locking function worked perfectly.
Of all the different belay devices I’ve used over the years, I prefer the ATC Pilot. If you are in the market for a new device, check out the Black Diamond ATC Pilot. With a little peace of mind, and a lot of bang for your buck it can make your climbing sessions that much more enjoyable!
Contributed by Alex Garcia, Earth Treks Shift Supervisor