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Gear Review



Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: ATC

Manufacturer: Black Diamond

Your Opinion: 
 - 39 Votes


Page By: John

Created/Edited: Apr 30, 2002 / Apr 30, 2002

Object ID: 269

Hits: 3808 


Drop forged from aircraft quality 7075-T6 aluminum alloy, the Air Traffic Controller is one of the most popular belay/rappel devices. It’s light, easy to operate, and won’t lock up unexpectedly. Also, when used correctly, the ATC won’t kink your cord. The complex geometry of the ATC allows it to feed rope smoothly yet hold your partner’s screamers with ease. As a rappel tool the ATC provides a silky smooth ride and its extensive surface area dissipates heat.
  • Easy to use and specifically designed to feed rope smoothly
  • Locks up well with 9-11 mm ropes; with 8.1 and smaller, use two biners for more locking power
  • New models come with a stronger keeper wire
  • Simple, elegant design that’s stood the test of time and is now a classic
Accolades:Similar Products: DMM The Bug, HB Sheriff, Metolius BRD, OP SBG II, Petzl Reverso, Trango B-52, Trango Jaws, Trango Pyramid.


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mconnellUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Quality product that works as advertised. As the description says, use 2 biners on smaller ropes. I have rappelled on a single 9mm and it starts to slide a bit easily. I have a 10.5 rope that is very stiff and it is quite a bit of work to get through the ATC. Should be lots of fun with a new 11mm.

I have heard people say that the cable can break but I have never had a problem.

Posted May 1, 2002 8:32 am

mpbroUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I'm tempted to give an N/A for the vote, because I haven't had enough chances to use other devices. I initially purchased the ATC because of its low price and flexibility - you can belay 2 ropes and rappel reasonably well with a single device.

I haven't tried with a huge variety of rope diameters, so cannot comment. I get easy threads, and smooth belays and rappels with 10-11mm ropes. However I hear that on thin lines (<= 8mm), raps may be a bit "sporty" with an ATC.

On rappel, it does not heat up that badly (fairly big with lots of surface area), and I never had too much trouble with rope twist.

At the same price and weight as a locking biner, it's a low commitment to buy an ATC, and maybe even to carry a second!

In summary, cheap, not fancy, and reliable.
Posted May 2, 2002 10:52 am

miztflipUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

No bells and whistles, only the necessities. I us the ATC for both rock and mountaineering. It seems to work great whether using 7mm or 11mm. Very solid piece that takes the abuse of rock climbing very well. I also find it very easy to handle with heavy gloves or mitts on. The ATC provides solid belays even on icy ropes.
Posted Jun 7, 2002 4:19 pm

Bill OttUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

I love my ATC. However, while rappeling on a single strand of 9 mm, I could not actually stop the descent. The best I could do was slow the inevitable slide down, while the ungloved hand started to cook. Should have used an auto-block, but next time, if ever again, I'll try the double biners.
Posted Jun 26, 2002 1:59 pm

WildtrailUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Probably the best belay/rappel device on the market. Smooth feed on either belay or rappel. Simple, no thought, operation. Handels ropes of multiple sizes and always gives a sure catch. For the money, there isn't better.
Posted Jun 30, 2002 10:46 pm

marcminishUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Never climb without it. I've used an 8 and some other belay devices, but I always come back to this one. It will put some twist in the rope, but this has never been a problem for me. Very simple but effective. Also relatively inexpensive in case you have to replace it.
Posted Sep 27, 2002 12:27 pm

GlencoeUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

The "regular" belay/repel device. Does exactly what it says it does. No complaints. It's good enough to make me wonder why I would ever want a different one, I haven't found a good enough reason to switch yet.
Posted Sep 29, 2002 6:37 pm

tbnelsonUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Light weight and reliable. Tends to get a bit hot on rappels and during lowering. Great device and reasonable price.
Posted Oct 14, 2002 8:53 am

Alan EllisUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

Simple and functional. Get's too hot, though, on rappel. Does better on 10.2 or less; otherwise, doesn't feed smooth or fast to leaders on bigger ropes.
Posted Oct 23, 2002 5:03 am

bigwallyUntitled Review

Voted 2/5

OK, its a belay/rappel device that works reasonably well, but there are numerous on the market that can make that claim. The down-side, for me, is two-fold ; they get hotter than they need to on "rapping" and the keeper wire always breaks. The Trango Pyramid is a very similar device that dissipates heat more efficiently and has a full circle of wire as a keeper....one that I have not yet managed to break after 10 seasons. They both cost the same price....YOU choose !!!!
Posted Jan 26, 2003 8:31 pm

NYC007Untitled Review

Voted 3/5

its a good begineers b d, I found it to be chopped at times. I think your better off with the reverso or the new ATC XP
Posted Feb 24, 2003 10:00 am

Martin CashUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

I've used this for spelunking quite a few times, and rented it a few times at the gym before I bought my Reverso. It's a good basic plain and simple belay device. It performs most everything you ask of it reasonably well. Nothing special. It's lightweight and easy to use. I'd give it a higher rating, but I much prefer all of the advanced features in the Reverso.
Posted Mar 15, 2003 8:50 pm

rpcUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Simple & light. It's all that one should ask of a belay device (durable goes without saying!). Can't really screw it up even if you're too tired to remember your name.
Posted Jul 30, 2003 1:16 pm

William MarlerUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I have not used any similar products so its hard for me to compare.But for me it works well and is lightweight. I have no complaints on this but have used it mostly in the gym.
Posted Aug 4, 2003 10:01 am

dsnellUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I've used a BD figure eight, a Trango Pyramid, and a Stich Plate, but the ATC is my favorite belay device so far. Though similar in design to the Trango Pyramid, the ATC works a world better, in my opinion.

As stated by other reviewers, it does heat up a bit on long rappels, but nothing to cause alarm.
Posted Aug 7, 2003 8:33 pm

grandwazooUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Works great as a belay/rappel device, gets hot and is tough pushing a 10.5 Mil rope through in the cold.
Posted Nov 9, 2003 8:39 pm

MishaUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

No frills belaying device. Will do the job but won't have as many features as you may like while belaying or rappeling. Now when you have a choice between different ATCs, get an ATC-XP if you can!
Posted Dec 14, 2003 6:03 pm

sshankleUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Good all-around belay device. Reverso is better for advanced techniques (autoblock and belaying 2 seconds).
Posted Jan 4, 2004 6:38 pm

petersbikeUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Got as a gift; have used a flat stict plate(sucks) and currently use the trango pyramid. Works as good as the trango . Rappels and belays easily even with old inflated 11mm rope. I choose my trango because I like the keeper cord better and just because I like its look better.The ATC works just as well.
Posted Feb 12, 2004 1:51 am

scottfromcaliUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

It works, does what it is suppose to. I am not overly impressed with it. Rope feel is ok, nothing great. It does lock up when you bring the break hand around like it should. Umm.. not much else, its a belay device.
Posted Mar 31, 2004 10:18 pm

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