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Black Diamond ATC Guide Green
  • Black Diamond ATC Guide Green
  • Black Diamond ATC Guide Black
  • Black Diamond ATC Guide Platnum
  • Black Diamond ATC Guide Blue
  • Black Diamond ATC Guide Ruby

ATC Guide 2018


My vote: None ( 5.1 avg )


Our most versatile belay/rappel device, the Black Diamond ATC-Guide is now even lighter thanks to windows machined through the body. We also enlarged the auto-block release hole to accept a small carabiner. Multiple friction modes provide the optimal amount of stopping power when lowering or rappelling, and the device's guide mode lets you belay one or two seconding climbers off an anchor.

Multiple friction modes for belay and rappel
Machined windows through device for weight savings
Auto-block release hole accepts small carabiners
Durable cable holds its shape and resists getting caught up between ropes
Guide mode works with one or two climbers
ascending and descending
Dependable and smooth operation in all conditions, handling ropes from 7.7 to 11 mm

Retail price

US$ 29.95
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Device Type

Device Type


The most commonly used belay type also called an “ATC” or “tuber.” Other than a distinction between other belay device types, “Tube” is a rarely used term, most climbers just assume you're talking about this style when they refer to your "belay device."

Tube belay device example

Figure 8

Mostly used in rescue, canyoneering, tactical, work safety, or by old school climbers and rappellers. One reason they went out of popularity with recreational climbers is because they tend to create twists in the rope.

Figure 8 belay device example

Brake Assist

These devices assist in stopping the rope when a climber falls or hangs on the rope.

Brake Assist belay device example

Often referred to as “auto-blocking” but that’s not the official terminology because no belay device should be assumed to work automatically by itself, even if it feels like it does (or does most the time).


When simplicity is a must, or you started climbing before Tubers were the norm. Bonus: They tend to be very light weight.

Plate belay device example


For rappelling, not for belaying a lead climber or top-roping.

Descender example
Weight (g)

Weight (g)

In grams, the weight, as stated by the manufacturer/brand.

88 g
Belay Brake Assist

Belay Brake Assist

This is when the belay device significantly reduces the amount of holding power the belayer must exert to stop a fall and hold a climber.

This is also called "assisted-braking" as the device must hold a significant amount of the climber’s weight; this term does not include friction-adding "teeth" found on some tube style belay devices.

Confusingly referred to as “auto-blocking” or “auto-locking” these terms wrongly imply the device will always, automatically, stop a fall or hold a climber even if the belayer/rappeller is hands-free. These devices are not meant to be used without a hand on the braking side of the rope; the belayers/rapppeller brake hand should always be on the brake rope.

Worth Considering

Most of the mechanical brake assist devices only hold a single strand of rope and are not capable of double-strand rappelling (the most common method of rappel).

Rope Options 1 or 2 ropes
Guide Mode

Guide Mode

This is when you belay directly off the anchor instead of your harness. Guide mode is helpful if you climb outdoors a lot because it reduces the holding power required from the belayer. When your partner falls or rests, the weight of the climber is held mostly by the anchor and the belay device.

Tubers and Plates

When belaying in "guide mode," the tubers and plates turn auto-blocking. During a fall, the climbing rope pinches the slack rope, completely stopping the movement of either rope. A common guide mode setup shown below.

A double rope tubular device guide mode example

Mechanical Brake Assist Devices

There is no difference in the functionality of the device. A brake-hand should always be on the rope to ensure the climber is caught in the case of a fall. A common guide mode setup shown below.

A single rope mechanical brake assist guide mode example

Where guide mode is used

  • multi-pitch sport or trad climbs
  • single-pitch where you need to bring up a follower (say for a walk-off)

Learn More

Up to 2 followers


Teeth are only seen on tube devices. They add friction that helps grip the rope for more belaying control.

This is helpful for belaying heavier climbers. Teeth are becoming standard on new tube devices.

The belay device teeth are shown in the red circle

Worth Considering

Teeth do wear out. You can limit wear by rappelling on the side without teeth (if you don’t need the extra friction). Once they’re worn, you’ll still have a usable belay device, just less friction.

Rope Range (mm)

Rope Range (mm)

The range of rope diameters, in millimeters, that the manufacturer/brand specifies can safely be used.

This is the best case scenario and does not necessarily take into consideration that certified ropes have a tolerance of +/- .3 mm.

Recently, manufacturers have started to add an "optimized" rope range -- this is the range that will result in the nicest handling of the belay device.

7.7 mm  - 11.0 mm ­­­


The main climbing gear certifications are CE and UIAA--and normally the UIAA creates the rules that the CE body also supports. When possible, we try to list all the certifications the product carries.

To sell a climbing product in Europe, the device must be CE certified. There are no official requirements to sell climbing gear in the US. The UIAA certification is a voluntary process.

Learn More

Rock and Ice Certifications Guide
( 5.1 avg )
( 5 avg )

Go-To Manual Life Saver

Variable Friction
Guide Belay Setup Option
Can be Rigged to create and Auto-Blocking Setup
Newer Designs are very light
None in my opinion
I’ve used it a ton

This is a wonderful device. I have been using it for years for belay and rapel, and have just started learning how to take full advantage of it's guide features. I love it.

My model is older, so it doesn't have the cut-outs. This means there are lighter ones on the market than mine, and there one ones lighter than the current design. I have not personally used them. I can only recomend this one. It is durable, light enough, and a design that has stood the test of time all over the world.

Most people will not need the guide features, but its worth having them if you think you might venture into that realm (multipitch or big wall).

( 6 avg )

For the people who just like to climb

I own a lot of ATCs, but if I could only own one, this would be it. Belay a second, assisted catch on lead, light, safe, exactly what you want.

It works well in every situation, and the only reason you would want something else would be if you aren't that comfortable belaying or you know your climber will spend a lot of time hang dogging a route. Those situations call for a grigri, but everything else, 95% of climbing, this is the one that you want.

( 5.2 avg )

Just what the belayer asked for

extra loops
light weight

This is my 3rd buddy from the ATC family. Exactly what I need for multipitch climbing, and everyday sport. Teeth hold the rope well, although appear to be starting to wear a bit smooth. Heavy use for two seasons. Will take it into a shop to have checked out.

Grip still makes for a nice secure rappel.

( 4.3 avg )

Making life easier, one grippy belay at a time.


This is a great multi-use belay device. The toothed side is perfect for belaying a heavier climber, or for a single-rope rappel; the device is great for belaying a lead climber, or a top-roper and can be used to belay off an anchor.

After 2 years of belaying with this device, the teeth are definitely showing signs of wear, but due to the triangular shape it is still sufficient for a controlled belay or rappel. If you're only going to buy one belay device this one is pretty great!

Outdoor Gear Lab Gear Review rating 4/5

The performance difference between the ATC Guide and the Petzl Reverso 4 is closer than we could have imagined. Both devices are smooth and reliable when belaying a leader or rappelling. They're also reasonably priced and durable. The differences amounted ultimately to only weight and auto-block resistance. Although the Reverso 4 is an ounce lighter, over the lifespan of either device, we believe the ATC Guide's lower auto-block friction will actually save most users more energy. For this reason we consider the ATC Guide our top pick for multi-pitch climbing.

Climbing Gear Review no rating given just a review

Because the original design was so successful, it has seen very little updating, other than losing a few grams in 2009; the current weight is 3.1 ounces. There are plenty of competitors, but the ATC-Guide leads the category in performance and durability. Climbers we polled prefer this model over others because it’s beefier, lasts longer, and loads ropes easier. “Ultra-top-notch-deluxe sums it up right there!” is what one psyched gear expert had to say. Another called it “the device that all other tubers copy.” A side-by-side comparison of popular auto-blockers showed that the Black Diamond version had more bite on the rope, and it was easier to lower a climber when belaying off the anchor on a multi-pitch.

GearFlogger Logo

New and improved, the Black Diamond ATC Guide is better than ever. Every rack should have a tube-style belay device that can be rigged off the belay anchor in auto-blocking mode, and the 3.1oz ATC Guide is a perfect example of how to do it right.
Improvements to the Guide are minor but appreciated. The cutouts on the sides reduce weight slightly, and the larger hole for releasing the autoblock will take a small carabiner. Still present are the two friction modes, the higher of which is much appreciated when Mr. Fatty Pants is on the other end of the cord.
The ATC Guide accepts ropes from 7.7 to 11mm and feeds them smoothly. Pair it up with a dedicated belay carabiner like BD's own Gridlock or Petzl's Freino, and you've got yourself a party.

Features of ATC Guide
Review of ATC Guide Belay Device
ATC Guide
ATC Guide Review by Outdoor Gear Lab
ATC Guide Review by Ray Cassidy
ATC Guide Review by Backcountry
ATC Belay Devices

Introducing Black Diamond ATC belay devices.

Instruction of Using ATC-Guide Belay

No voice, but very informative video.

Instruction for ATC Guide
How to use ATC Guide