When we check the WeighMyRack database for the most wanted and owned mechanical belay devices (tube style belay devices are a different post) by WeighMyRack users we find the top 3 models in each category are…

Most Wanted Mechanical Belay Devices

  1. Mad Rock Safeguard
  2. Wild Country Revo
  3. Petzl GriGri

In 2022, the GriGri+ was #3 Most Wanted but the GriGri has surpassed it in 2023.

Most Owned Mechanical Belay Devices (available today)

  1. Petzl GriGri
  2. Petzl GriGri+
  3. Mad Rock Safeguard

Below we dive into why these are the most wanted and owned mechanical belay devices from WeighMyRack users.

Mad Rock Safeguard – #1 Most Wanted

Though it still passes the UIAA certification to function as a belay device, the Mad Rock Safeguard is not actually recommended to be used as a belay device. Because it lacks a spring to keep the cam open for the rope to back feed the Safeguard is always trying to grab the rope whenever it moves. This means belaying a lead climber with it would be a difficult time, but it makes it well suited as a progress capture device in rigging, route setting, and rescue, which is what the Safeguard is built for. Mad Rock makes a spring-assisted version of the Safeguard called the Lifeguard that is better suited as a belay device which currently sits at #7 on the Most Wanted list.

We think a big part of the Safeguard being at the top of the Most Wanted list has to do with its specialized design. Most climbers these days already have a mechanical or brake-assisted belay device that plays a regular role in their day to day climbing activities. For those who are looking to expand their capability to say learn how to photograph their friends on rope, or to get more efficient at hauling a bucket of climbing holds at the gym, or as part of a rope soloing setup, a specialty piece of gear can look a lot more enticing.

With a super cheap price point (just below $90) you’ve got a pretty unique and competitive device to top many wishlists, at least among our users.

Buying options for the Mad Rock Safeguard

Wild Country Revo – #2 Most Wanted Mechanical Belay Device

When it hit the market back in 2017 the Wild Country Revo made some big waves. And this was in the year that saw some updates to the GriGri line, as well as the Trango Vergo, the Black Diamond ATC Pilot, and the Edelrid Mega Jul. So what’s so special about the Revo that had (and maybe still has?) everyone buzzing? Simply put, it is just such a curiosity you can’t help but want to put your hands on it.

Wild Country set out with some quite ambitious goals in the design of the Revo. More specifically they wanted to solve the hard problem of a brake assisted device that can’t be overridden with panic or misuse. They also wanted it to be intuitive to load, manage rope, belay, and lower, AND not require a new skillset to belay smoothly and safely. Tall order. Did we also mention the whole thing operates on a revolving drum like a pulley?

When it comes to practical use the Revo seems to take a bit more getting used to than it might sound. The central wheel that grabs the rope (as it moves over 4m/sec) functions smoothly, but once it grabs there’s a new bit of push/pull movement required to disengage the brake and let it spin freely again. Most users of tube belay devices find it to feel like a wheel assisted tuber, feeding rope with ease. But when catching repeated falls and a bit of hang-dogging are on the menu, many find themselves returning to mechanical devices that can more easily be ‘overridden’ for the sake of taking and giving slack at will.

Is the Revo actually the safest mechanical belay device out there like Wild Country claim? It’s debatable. It does perform as designed and helps a climber stay practiced with tube-style belay techniques, despite it being a mechanical device. Many who have spent the time getting used to its nuances swear they’ll never go back to other assisted devices, regardless of the weight and the price tag (245g and $144.95 at the time of writing). We think these reasons at the very least will keep the Revo on many a wish list.

Buying Options for the Wild Country Revo

Petzl GriGri – #1 Most Owned Mechanical Device

We talked at length in our post on the most owned and wanted tube style belay devices about how Black Diamond has cemented the word ATC into the climbing zeitgeist to mean any tube style belay device, and it’s not uncommon to hear climbers referring to mechanical belay devices as a GriGri.

Fact is, it is nearly impossible to show up at a gym, a crag, a big wall or anywhere where there’s climbing gear and not see a Petzl GriGri. The current version (just named GriGri) is the major 3rd iteration and has seen some marginal improvements over its predecessors, but largely still functions like every GriGri that has existed since the late 90’s. So when/if you finally wear one out, drop it off a ledge, or lose it in baggage claim, picking up whichever the latest version of the GriGri won’t steer you wrong.

Useful for belaying in nearly every type of single rope situation, the GriGri is also great for belaying from above, for hauling, jugging rope, photography, top rope solo, you name it. Nowadays just about every brand has something in the same vein as the GriGri, and while many other mechanical devices have leaned into a few differences around spring tensions, shape, weight, or price, the fact remains that dethroning the GriGri is something that probably isn’t going to happen for a while. We expect it to be the most owned mechanical belay device by WeighMyRack users for quite some time.

Buying Options for the Petzl GriGri

Petzl GriGri+ – #2 Most Owned Mechanical Belay Device

Short Story: For all intents and purposes the GriGri+ functions just like any other GriGri but ALSO has anti-panic lowering, adjustable spring tension, wider rope range and a stainless insert for the most rope-worn area of the device. All of this is worth the $50 difference for a lot of folks, and that shows in the fact that even though a lot of folks want the Plus, a LOT of folks already have it.

petzl_grigri_plus 1
The anti-panic lowering handle of the GriGri plus makes it pretty much impossible to drop a climber by lowering them too quickly because it breaks free under too much tension, causing the cam to close on the rope and stop the climber.

Long Story: The Petzl GriGri+ hit the market back in 2017 to some pretty mixed opinions from climbers. Many folks weren’t all that impressed with the added features and weight that the GriGri+ brought to the table. It was also much more expensive. But fast forward a few years with the explosion of new climbers hitting the gyms and crags via the lockdowns of 2020 and it almost seems like Petzl could see the future.

The GriGri+ is the 4th iteration of the device that pretty much started it all when it comes to mechanical belay and assisted braking. As Petzl has kept iterating and making their devices smaller, lighter, and multifunction, they saw that they weren’t serving the entire market with the GriGri. When more and more new climbers began popping up they decided to design a device that while heavier in weight and price, was better suited for learning to belay with backups in place.

Suddenly the “beginner friendly” option of a device with an anti-panic lowering handle and two modes of spring tension (one for top rope and one for lead belay) had a place to shine, and a lot of the early naysayers had a chance to check out the new features.

We’ve even seen some folks prefer to use the Plus to lead belay because the spring tension is ever so much tighter than with the GriGri, making it that much smoother for those who struggle with assisted braking devices locking up on them. For the price, it is questionable for a lot of folks whether they would replace an existing device with the GriGri+ unless they have something that they simply do not like, but for someone looking for a backup that they can hand to just about anybody, the GriGri+ has earned its place as #2 Most Wanted.

Buying Options for the Petzl GriGri+

Mad Rock Safeguard – #3 Most Owned Mechanical Belay Device

This one threw us for a bit of a loop, we gotta say. When it comes to Most Wanted lists, we’re used to seeing a lot of niche stuff creep into folk’s lists because its easy to dream you might get something some day (or you want us to let you know when it goes on sale). So needless to say that such a specific piece of kit has worked its way to #3 on the Most Owned mechanical device list probably says a lot about the user base of WeighMyRack.

Our users come from a diverse background of climbing from total beginners to first time traddies, to alpinists and bigwallers, and guides, route setters and rescue professionals. But we think that last group may just be responsible for this bump in our data. Of all our users, those who spend their time in the gear for a living like setters and guides are more likely to use the teeny tiny functions of WeighMyRack, including the Want it and Own it lists. Overlap that on the fact that the Safeguard is tailor made for working at height and rescue scenarios and it really starts to makes sense that so many WeighMyRack users own them. Sprinkle some photographers on there for good measure and the numbers go up even more.

Our users really are gear nerds (and we love them) and the Safeguard being #3 most owned is just one data point showing that.

Bottom Line

It’s pretty tough to edge in on the massive market share that Petzl has with the GriGri. Whether you’re still using an original, or have gone to the full-featured Plus, its pretty much written in rock climbing for a while that mechanical belay devices have been defined by the GriGri. There are a lot of other great options out there from nearly every manufacturer, and we recommend most of them. But if you’re looking for the line of devices that really started it all, the GriGri is most owned and wanted in its various forms for good reason.

When it comes to the gear that climbers want, it almost always leans toward the wild, niche, and the unique, and though a couple of these devices also happen to make the most owned list as well, everything on our most wanted list trends toward very specific uses and functions. For those of us who already own devices, the wishlist always extends to the fringes and we’ve found this to be the case with this list with the Revo and the Safeguard.

Most Wanted Mechanical Belay Devices

  1. Mad Rock Safeguard
  2. Wild Country Revo
  3. Petzl GriGri

Most Owned Mechanical Belay Devices (available today)

  1. Petzl GriGri
  2. Petzl GriGri+
  3. Mad Rock Safeguard

Want to See All The Belay Devices (over 125)?

At WeighMyRack, we list every single belay device and give you filters for type (like tube or brake assist), guide mode, and other features. You can also filter by on sale belay devices with discounts >20%.

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