Petzl’s Reverso 4 has been my go to belay device for over 2 years now. Ragged Mountain to the Gunks to Mt Washington to Mt Rainier to multiple trips to the Tetons, I’ve used every iteration of the Reverso since it’s introduction in 2001. It has proven to be a handy and well thought out tool for climbers and guides alike.
Essentially, the Reverso 4 is a plate and plaquette device combined. The first version was a stamped and bent alminium tool, quite different from the current version. The second model included tighter rope slots and then a cog-like gripper for the braking side of the device. The Reverso 3 was introduced in 2007 and was totally redesigned. It appeard as a beefier brother to the current design.
Last year, in an effort to shave a few ounces off the rack for an ascent of Mt Rainier’s Liberty Ridge (and http://raggedmountainguides.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/trip-report-liberty-ridge-mt-rainier-14410-washington-usa/), I picked up a Reverso 4. The Reverso 4 was certainly lighter, and worked just as well as the Reverso 3. At first, I wasn’t sure how engineers could shave a few ounces off the current design, but they managed to do it. It has become my tool of choice.
Belaying 2 ropes at once in the plaquette function is pretty easy with a round stock carabiner like the Petzl Attaché or even a symetrical once like the OK or Am’D. Skinnier ropes obviously make the task easier. Here you see it in use with a Mammut 9.2mm Revelation and a 9.2mm Sterling nano on the Whitehorse Ledge classic Standard Route.
The Reverso 4 is a great tool for top rope belaying and for belaying a leader as well. This winter I caught a couple of falls with it. The skinny ropes were iced up, and it worked admirably. I’m not sure how well a device with larger rope slots like the BD ATC Guide would have worked in this particular situation. Since we all seem to be climbing with skinnier ropes these days, I like the idea of smaller rope slots, and Petzl’s patented Progressive Rope Control.
Overall, I’m impressed with the light weight, and ease of use. Lowering in the plaquette function is pretty easy with a carabiner in the release hole. I’m so sold on it, I can’t imagine ever going back to a different device. Petzl doesn’t redesign things often, but when they do, they do it with intention.
Like any belay device, it can develop sharp edges and get worn out. A close inspection of your device will tell you when it might be time to retire it. I would suggest you should expect a few seasons of heavy use from yours.
Check out this video on the use of the Reverso 4: http://vimeo.com/80477504
MSRP: $29.95 available from many retailers and online
Pros: light weight, functional, intuitive, easy to lower with
Cons: so light it might wear out fast and create sharp edges if you don’t keep your ropes clean.