A belay device is essential but the array on the market can be bewildering. Here are a few notes to help.

If you have any intentions of climbing outside, buy a belay plate with two slots as you will probably want to use double ropes at some time, and even if you don't, you will almost certainly have to abseil down double ropes. The safest designs for starting out are those that have grooves of some sort that grip the rope such as the BD ATC-XP, Petzl Verso etc, as they have greater braking effect than other plates.

Most Belay Devices can also safely be used to abseil with in most situations (be aware that they heat up more quickly than a large figure of eight descender) and few climbers these days would bother carrying a separate Figure of Eight for abseiling. Use of a Prusik Loop or a Shunt to safeguard yourself while descending is highly recommended.

Please check out our section on Abseil Knots for some important and potentially life saving information.

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