First Look: DMM Pivot Belay Device

Top Belay

The new DMM Pivot in guide mode

We’ve all been there – your follower forgets to clean a piece of gear and needs to be lowered. You are belaying them up with an ATC in guide mode and dread struggling to lower them by leveraging the ATC with a carabiner. The problem is that the pivot radius between the pivot point and the locking point on the rope is very long on a traditional ATC guide, requiring a lot of torque to unlock the rope. This forces the ATC guide to lower much like an on/off switch, which resulted in a recent lowering accident.


The DMM Pivot reduces the effective pivot radius when unlocking a rope in guide mode.

Enter the DMM Pivot. DMM has come up with a simple solution to this old problem by introducing a pivot point where the guide-mode eyelet meets the ATC body. This reduces the effective pivot radius by 3 times, decreasing the amount of force required to lower.
The first thing you will notice is that the Pivot is elegant and machined to very tight tolerances. So precise is the milling that there is absolutely no slop in the pivot point, whether side-to-side or up-and-down. If you consider how difficult it is to design a truly slop-free hinge, this is really impressive. Because the pivot bears all of the load of the belay device when in guide mode, it is important that the pivot be just as strong as the rest of the device.

Pivot TR Close

The DMM pivot feeds rope out very smoothly

Part of the reason for the high manufacturing quality and quality control of the DMM Pivot and all other DMM products is the fact that all hard goods are made in house in Wales. DMM employs skilled local technicians and manufactures the highest quality climbing gear. There are only a handful of small companies that can still make this claim.

I must confess to embodying DMM’s motto, “Climb Now, Work Later” on a daily basis.


Mike belaying me on my redpoint of Englishman’s Home at Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon

For lead belaying, the Pivot is similar to the Petzl Reverso 4 and BD ATC Guide in terms of functionality. Rope seems to feed out smoother than an ATC Guide and similarly to the Reverso 4. Both the Pivot and Reverso 4 are designed for ropes under 10mm, so you may experience some stickiness using a thicker rope.

Michal Top Belay

Toprope belaying in guide mode in Fremont Canyon, WY.

For toprope belaying in guide mode, the Pivot is much smoother than other belay devices I have tried. There is significantly less hangup on soft, broken-in ropes than with the ATC guide. I like to use the DMM Sentinel locking carabiner for my belay device because it is light (54 g) and directional. However, DMM recommends the slightly thicker and larger-radius DMM Rhino locking carabiner (72 g) for optimal belaying smoothness. This makes sense because the larger the radius the rope runs over, the less likely the belay device is to lock when you don’t want it to.The Pivot weighs 72 g, which is between the light Reverso 4 at 59 g and the heavier ATC Guide at 82 g. These weight differences are hardly noticeable, and the cutouts on the Reverso 4 body are less confidence inspiring than the solid body of the Pivot.

The only complaint my partners and I have about this belay device is that it is easy to put the rope in the wrong way due to the unconventional appearance of the belay device. I simply double check every time I belay, and have experienced no difficulties because of this.

When I was in Fremont Canyon a few weekends ago, I was able to lower my follower an entire 100 foot (30 meter) pitch without any hangups or drama due to the incredible smoothness and shorter pivot radius of the DMM Pivot. It was about as easy to lower with as a Petzl Grigri2, which is really the ultimate testament to the engineering of this product. If you are looking to get a new guide mode capable belay device, look no further than the DMM Pivot.

Stay tuned for more gear reviews and a long-term test verdict of the DMM pivot after several months of use. We will show you how it holds up to abuse, if it still works smoothly, and if any slop begins to manifest in the pivot over time.

If you have any questions about the DMM Pivot or if there is a product you would like us to review, leave a comment below!

Full disclosure: I bought the DMM Pivot with my own funds and reviewed it solely for your information.

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