Black Diamond ATC Sport

Review by Matt Heason
Monday 8th June 2009

The ATC (Air Traffic Controller for those who don’t remember its original name) is one of my favourite of the basic belay devices. I've used them on and off over the years and rate them for their simplicity, smooth operation, light weight, and ease of operation. There's very little that can go wrong with them as they have no moving parts. They're also machined very well, as you'd expect from Black Diamond.

The ATC XP introduced a little complexity to the old favourite, presenting an asymmetrical model with a ridged edge to give more purchase on the rope, and in doing so put an end to the one niggling issue with the old design - that of uncontrolled lowering in the event of a large fall or significantly heavier leader than second.

The ATC XP - click here for more infomation

The downside was that an asymmetrical design means that it's possible to thread the rope/s in two different ways. Not to matter though, and even in the event of threading them 'incorrectly' so that the ridges are on the wrong side, means that the device defaults to it's original design and works commendably as already discussed.

Black Diamond ATC Sport

The ATC Sport

The ATC Sport is really a very basic step - they've simply sliced the ATC XP in half, making it an easy choice when sport climbing. It's by far the lightest single rope belay device I've seen to date, more suited to dynamic belaying with thinner single ropes than camming devices such as the GriGri and Faders Sum, and significantly cheaper too at £13.99. What it won't do is allow hands off belaying (not something to be recommended to anybody but seasoned sport climbers anyway), and perhaps more crucially, it won't allow belaying or abseiling on twin ropes. This will mean it is of little interest to British climbers who are keen on both trad and sport climbing. Otherwise, this is a great piece of lightweight, good value kit for sport climbers to add to their rack.

Here's what BD have to say about it:

Black Diamond ATC Sport is a single-rope, sport-cragging belay device, the ATC-Sport is built using the rest of the ATC family’s time-tested design. This simple, lightweight, hot-forged device can handle a rope from 7.7-11 mm, and is designed with regular and high-friction modes for excellent versatility and holding/stopping power.

The PlanetFear Star Rating Explained:

* A poor product with design and functionality problems. Not recommended. 

** An average product. Recommended only for its low cost or as a back-up item.

*** A good product. Certainly worth considering, although better products may be available at the same price

**** An excellent product and among the best available in its category. Highly recommended.

***** An outstanding product defining the cutting edge of outdoor technology and design. You won't find a better one! 

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