Black Diamond ATC Pilot feature

The all-new ATC Pilot from Black Diamond presents climbers with a simple and reliable assisted-braking belay device for single-pitch climbs, both indoors and out.

Key features

Unlike a more complex device, like the extremely popular GriGri from Petzl, the geometry of this tubular design enables you to catch your climber without relying on any moving parts. After the belay device catches the climber, the belayer simply rotates the device to release on the rope for a gradual lower using their brake hand.

Black Diamond constructed the ATC Pilot with molded stainless steel for lasting durability and added the ergonomic and comfortable Grilamid material to offer ergonomic comfort and maintain its light weight.

As a result of this simple structure, the ATC Pilot provides a light yet secure belaying option; weighing a mere 86 grams (3 ounces), as compared to the 200 grams (7 ounces) of the GriGri +. It also costs considerably less: $44.95 instead of $150.

Tech specs

  • Price: $44.95 (MSRP)
  • Rope diameter accepted: 8.7-10.5mm
  • Weight: 86g (3.03oz)
  • Steel construction
  • Ergonomic, non-slip surface
  • Single rope use

Similar devices

If you feel like you’ve used or seen a similar belay device design, it’s because you have.

The ATC Pilot from Black Diamond joins the ranks of other assisted-braking tubular designed belay devices, including the Mammut Smart, Edelrid Jul 2, and the Ergo from Salewa.

Here’s a comparison of similar devices:

BD ATC Pilot
Mammut Smart
Edelrid Jul 2
Salewa Ergo


Is the ATC Pilot right for you?

This assisted-braking tubular design has become a favorite for many climbers as a lightweight and safety-enhancing option for single-pitch belaying in the climbing gym or at the crag.

On their YouTube video page for the device, Black Diamond asserts that

Its lighter than the Smart, more intuitive and easier to use than the Mega Jul.

Further, BD adds:

“The ATC Pilot is ‘geometry assisted braking device’ and the MegaJul is considered an ‘assisted braking device’. We believe the Pilot to be well designed, more intuitive and easier to use. Smart Alpine – Also considered an ‘assisted braking device’ – this device accepts half as well as single ropes. The Pilot does not accept half ropes. The Pilot is also lighter.”

Important factors to know

If choosing to go for Black Diamond’s ATC Pilot, there are a few important points to note:

  1. The ATC Pilot cannot be used for double-rope rappelling, which means this will not replace or serve as your go-to rappel device.
  2. The ATC Pilot cannot be used in guide-mode.
  3. Black Diamond strongly recommends that the ATC Pilot be used with an HMS carabiner, like their GridLock, rather than a D-shaped ‘biner to ensure the greatest level of holding force.


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