Wild Country has revealed the REVO, a completely new design of belay device, and professional climbers Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson were on hand to demonstrate as I tested it!
I found the Revo intuitive to use. You open the device, feed the rope through it, then close it and attach it to your harness with a krab as normal. There are no changes to the standard belaying technique – the difference is on the inside. The device has an autolocking function, which means that, if for any reason the belayer lets go of the rope, the device will lock and prevent the climber from falling.
From the outside the Revo looks sleek, and its design is so straightforward for the user that it would actually be difficult to cause the device to fail. A unique feature is that the device is bi-directional. In other words, it will lock whichever direction the rope travels, so there is no wrong way to feed the rope through it. The tweet below includes a short video of me setting it up to belay.
As a belayer I was concerned that an auto locking device might prevent me giving slack quickly enough. In fact the Revo operates in a similar way to a standard belay device, so when giving or taking slack normally it didn’t interrupt the movement of the rope.
During the test the device did lock when the climber took a sudden fall, and when I let go of the rope. A belayer should never let go of the rope, but many climbing accidents are caused that way, and the Revo eliminates that risk.
Although very few climbers like falling, sometimes it has to happen! Knowing that the device will lock gives an extra feeling of security. Whatever happens, when using the Revo it is not possible to be ‘dropped’ by your belayer. Caro explained that as a professional climber who must be prepared to fall, she feels totally confident in its reliability.
The Revo can be used for sport or trad, but only with one rope. It’s suitable for climbers of all abilities, from beginners or people that often climb with partners they don’t know well, to experienced climbers working harder routes.
Climbing is inherently risky, and as climbers we do everything we can to manage that risk. The Revo isn’t intended to completely replace existing belay devices, and there is no substitute for a skilled and trusted partner. For any climbers using a single rope though, it’s an option that offers an additional layer of safety and protection against one of the main risks of climbing.