Climbing - Which belay device do I need?

Mountain guide Hansruedi Gertsch explains the differences

Mountain Guide portrait in Millet Jacket
Hansruedi Gertsch, Mountain Guide from Grindelwald, Switzerland

Are you ready for your next climb? With a large number of different belay devices, it is not always easy to know which system is best suited for which application. Mountain guide Hansruedi Gertsch explains the differences as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the most important belay devices. No matter which belay device you use, you have to know how to use it. Concentrated belaying remains the be-all and end-all when climbing.

3 different belay devices for climbing: HMS, Tuber and Grigri.

Munter Hitch (HMS)

I use the 'half clove hitch' or 'Munter Hitch' belay mainly for mountaineering and alpine climbing. It is important to know this belay technique because a device can get lost. Then the HMS is the best alternative.

No device = no costs = no weight

You always have it with you

Easy to learn

Twisting in the rope is increased if handled incorrectly

Brake cable must be held at all times

Reverso from Petzl (Tuber)

The Reverso serves me best in multi-pitch routes and alpine climbing. I can use the device for lead belaying and abseiling. It works with single, half and twin ropes. A real all-rounder and therefore often the first choice for me as a mountain guide.

Very versatile for all disciplines in climbing and mountaineering incl. abseiling


Dynamic backup is easier

Light weight

Quick rope dispensing/retraction

Brake cable must be held at all times

Brake hand must be consistently held down

Grigri by Petzl (semi-automatic belay device)

I use the Grigri from Petzl mainly for indoor climbing, outdoor sport climbing and projecting. An important plus for me about this device is that the Grigri offers a high level of belay comfort because it locks with little traction on the brake hand.

Very safe, compensates for human errors

Comfort when tired

Security thanks to blocking support

Weight and cost

Only usable with single rope


Not suitable for multi-pitch routes


No dynamic saving

Eine Frau mit Kletterhelm richtet einen Kletterstandplatz ein. Im Hintergrund sind zwei weitere Personen zu erkennen.

Taster course climbing

Kletterer erreicht gerade den Gipfel der Klettertour. Im Hintergrund ist ein Flusstal zu erkennen

Basic skills course - multi-pitch climbing

Person klettert an einem schroffen Fels

Rock climbing