Mammut SMART Belay Device

Filed under: , , , , , , , , by: TRuC

BELAYing: In essence, the process of controlling the amount of rope available to the climber and reducing how far the climber could fall.

Back in the day, climbers had to use the body belay - a painful and somewhat masochistic method that surely defies the imagination of employing such tactics on modern applications. It wasn't until the 70's that a German engineer created the first belay device known as the sticht plate and has since then, been an amazing and evolving invention. Now instead of turning this review into a full blown thesis on different types of devices and which ones are better, I'll send you to a basic starting point for learning about belay devices and hand this over to a fellow gear junky, my good friend Jeremy Park...

JP: In my search for the perfect auto locking belay device, I’ve searched the exalted halls of REI to the local gear shop with the dude that smells just a little off. Everything from the Gri Gri (which if you ask me feels like having a bowling bowl clipped to your harness) to the Trango Cinch has graced my filthy paws. Even though the Cinch was a little less weighted, I felt it had the handling properties of a Greyhound bus going down an iced-over hill - yikes. Ultimately, I found both devices “lacking.”

The new contender to the field is the Mammut SMART belay device. When I first laid eyes on this bad boy, I have to say I was a little skeptical. It looks more like the door handle from the space shuttle than a belay device and it weighs next to nothing. This skepticism continued after having the device lock up on me while lead belaying in the gym. But after conversing with my local friendly Mammut rep about the nuances of the device, I gave it another go at a local cragging area. This time the device did not disappoint. The handling was smooth and fluid and the braking was as easy as 1, 2, take...

Lowering takes a little getting used to but other then that, this device far exceeded my expectations. Another nice feature of the device is the fact that it naturally gives a dynamic belay. It does this by allowing a little (and just enough) rope slippage before it automatically locks, similar to a normal belay device. This little amount makes your buddy feel a lot better when he's cranking 20ft above his last micro nut with a Screamer attached. You get all this for a quarter of the weight and price of the competitors’ auto locking devices which if you ask me, is a very SMART investment (Sorry I couldn’t help myself).

Pro: Fluid rope handling, dynamic belay, doesn‘t feel like having a boat anchor clipped to your harness, and with the money you save you can buy your buds a case of PBR and a couple of pizza’s

Cons: Steep learning curve, without proper technique, the device can lock up while feeding out rope.
Uses: Perfect for hang dog sessions with the crew or top roping with that beginning girl or boy climber you’ve had your eye on at the gym for the last couple of weeks.
Bonus: It doubles as a bottle opener.

Guest Blogger Jeremy Park can be found hiding in the alpine ranges of the Pacific Northwest and occasionally ditches a day of work to return from his adventures. As a crusty contradiction, he enjoys ice and rock of all types and more importantly, lives for general tomfoolery.