REVIEW: Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device

24, added Jun/2014, see all Wild Country news & reviews
Reviewed by Tim Neill
This review has been read 4,494 times

+The Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device mountain cragging in North Wales, 248 kbThe Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device mountain cragging in North Wales
© Tim Neill
This new device from WC is a “guiding” version of their popular VC Pro 2 device. “Guiding” being the description of the auto locking style of belaying, popular for safeguarding two following climbers simultaneously. This style of plate isn’t just the domain of instructors and guides but any climber embracing the full repertoire of climbing environments and requiring a “do it all” device.

The main attractions of this device are its no frills simple design and its low bulk….a far cry from the original Reverso. Although the unit is also pretty lightweight the device seems to be wearing well. As over the last month and a half it’s been in use probably every day with a mixture of guiding and personal climbing…so plenty of dragging wet gritty work ropes through it, being scuffed up against the rock thrashing around in some of N Wales’ finest chimneys as well as abseiling down sandy static abseil ropes in Pembroke and fielding plenty of lobs with a nice soft catch. My experiences of plenty of other similar devices has been much less positive as most other similar lightweight devices have developed a very sharp edge to the “live” side of the rope slot in this same time span with a similar amount of use…hardly good value!

+Abseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device, 231 kbAbseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device
© Tim Neill

The Pro Guide Lite also seems to securely manage the range of rope diameters that are stated on the side of the device…7.7mm and up. This is great news for any ice climbers, alpinists, trad rock climbers and instructors using fat “centre” ropes,  who want a single device to work effectively and safely in all those domains.

+Abseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device, 239 kbAbseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device
© Tim Neill

As a normal belay plate it works as well as it should for a modern device…ie slick to pay out, allowing for a reasonable dynamic soft catch yet providing enough friction for reassuring control of the rope by an attentive belayer. And to do this well over such a range of ropes is a major plus.

+Using the device with two seconds on the Freney Pillar of Mont Blanc, 253 kbUsing the device with two seconds on the Freney Pillar of Mont Blanc
© Tim Neill

+Belaying Right Wall - the classic E5 on Dinas Cromlech, 91 kbBelaying Right Wall - the classic E5 on Dinas Cromlech
© Tim Neill
In auto locking mode it’s slick to pull the ropes through without pumping your triceps…even on fatter ropes. And with only a subtle tilt of the device ropes can be paid back out if a following climber steps back down a move or two. With the rope locked up during a fall or if someone is taking a rest it’s as easy as it gets with these devices to lower rope back through the device. This is aided by the “release slot” which will take a full range of karabiner sizes to force the tilt of the device and allow rope to pass easily back through. A far cry from early models which needed modifying with cord through unnecessarily small slots or were simply a one way valve without some kind of major MIA problem solving scenario.

One design flaw of the device is the diameter of the eye that is clipped to the anchor during direct/locking mode. Unfortunately it seems that it’s too narrow to pass the barrel of any locking karabiner through it and definitely not the Synergy Locking karabiner that Wild Country recommend. This is an important consideration when orientating the karabiner to stay shut via the “gravity fed” concept. The only alternative is to rotate the karabiner back through the anchor every time which is a faff more often than not if the anchor is a weighted equalised sling or cordelette. This further becomes a pain when you’re retrieving the device from an anchor that 3 of you are hanging on unfortunately. Anyone converting to this device from the Reverso 2,3 or Black Diamond Guide will pick up on this fairly quick.

Hopefully Wild Country will address this simple alteration with the Pro Guide Lite 2. This will no doubt put the device at the top of the pecking order in the multi use market nailing all the requirements of a “do it all” device for the adventure climber.

+Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device, 65 kb
What Wild Country Say:

Our new advanced belay tool demonstrates engineering excellence. This remarkably lightweight device has been trimmed of all excess.
Its deep ribbed grooves handle a vast range of ropes from 7.7mm alpine cords upwards. Operated in ‘guide mode’, the pro guide lite is perfect for bringing up twin followers and locks perfectly with every fall. With a larger ‘release slot’, suitable for a karabiner, the tool is simple to release under load.
For use in mountain and crag environments by alpinists and adventure climbers, the pro guide lite is ergonomic, smooth and simple to operate.

Available in a set with the Synergy Lite.

Features: Hyper lightweight design, Guide mode, Karabiner release function, Efficient breaking slots

PRICE: £24

More Info: Wild Country Website

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