An ever-present problem in the climbing world is that of a lightweight belayer trying to hold the fall of a significantly heavier leader. This dilemma is exacerbated by the increasing use of skinny (sub-10 mm) single ropes. Thus, belay devices that offer the option of variable braking force are growing in popularity.
The ATC-XP is the first major update of Black Diamond's popular ATC, still one of the smoothest belay devices around. With the addition of boat-cleat-like teeth to one side, the belayer now has the option of normal braking or high-friction (also useful when using 8 mm twin ropes). Unlike some of the other variable belay devices, it's obvious which way to thread the device for the desired friction.
The design change adds 22 grams to the weight of the ATC, but it's inconsequential. The greater mass helps dissipate heat better during long rappels and a larger radius reduces wear on ropes. There are even rubber bumpers on the sides to reduce the noise of a jangling belay device. For only $3 extra, the ATC-XP is a much better buy than the ATC ($16.95) -- or any other belay device on the market.
SNEWS Rating: 5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 representing almost unheard of recognition in design and functional perfection.)
Suggested Retail: $19.95
For more information:www.blackdiamondequipment.com or 801-278-5533