Black Diamond ATC Pilot Review


There have been a variety of assisted braking devices to hit the market in the last couple of years, most with the goal of being a lightweight and simpler alternative to the GriGri. The ATC Pilot is Black Diamond’s offering, and for those who prefer this style of belay device, it may be the best in its class.

What I like: It’s light and simple. There are no moving parts, it’s easy to set up, and not catastrophic if you setup the rope in the wrong way. The lower is smoother than other similar devices that I’ve used thanks to the molded plastic “handle” that allows you to easily control the speed of the descent. It feeds out rope smoothly and quickly, and it works on ropes from 8.7 – 10.5, though the smaller diameter ropes require more diligence when braking.

What I don’t like: It’s not great for extended dogging sessions, as you actually have to hold the rope tight, unlike a GriGri where you can apply light pressure without taking your hand off. This can get old if your partner is working a route for any length of time. Also occasionally the rope would get out of the main track, and then it does not feed nearly as smoothly.

Bottom line: I liked it more than I thought I would, thanks to the smooth, controlled lowers and the ability to easily feed rope quickly, and in my opinion it’s the best of these style of belay devices. For people looking to save weight on big cragging approaches, or those who don’t like GriGris, it’s worth taking a look. For me, however, it won’t be replacing my GriGri anytime soon, but certainly another valuable tool to have in the quiver.

Retail: $44.95
Weight: 86g (3.03 oz)
Rope diameters: 8.7-10.5mm
Ideal uses: single pitch sport or trad climbing, gym climbing

More info and tech specs can be found on the BD website.

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

Connect with Us

Real Time Web Analytics