Auto belays have been shown to have many benefits when used at climbing walls. They help introduce beginners to climbing, offer opportunities for learning new climbing skills such as belaying, lead climbing, and rappelling, and have been shown to help increase membership. There are a number of different auto belays for sale, and this post will outline some of the most important qualities to look for when choosing an auto belay.
The Braking Technology
Magnetic: Magnetic braking is low maintenance and extremely reliable. The braking force is created through magnetic resistance, so it is friction-free and involves no sacrificial wear parts. There is no limit to the number of climbing cycles between annual certification inspections, and annual re-certifications are inexpensive. The TRUBLUE Auto Belay is the only auto belay for sale that uses this reliable magnetic braking technology.
Friction Brake Pad: Brake pad systems rely on the friction caused by brake pads to slow a climber's descent. These parts are expensive to replace and have a lower limit on the number of climbing cycles before servicing is required.
Hydraulic: Pressurized hydraulic systems have a potential for messy hydraulic fluid leaks and need to be re-pressurize regularly. These systems often take up lots of space behind the climbing wall and are permanently installed in one location. Installation and access can be challenging with these systems.
Modular or Stationary
Modular auto belays are compact, easy to install, and can be used with any climbing wall. Modular devices are also easy to move as needed. Maybe you want to change up the routes on auto belay for your regular climbers or group together auto belays to accommodate a class, birthday party or other group programming.
Stationary auto belays are much larger and heavier and are permanently mounted behind the climbing wall. These auto belays often require professional installation. Permanently mounted auto belay devices cannot be shipped back to the manufacturer for maintenance or re-certification, so technicians must come in person for the regular inspections. Accessing these stationary auto belays for required inspections can be difficult and lighting is often poor, resulting in missed or incomplete inspections.
Auto Belay Prices
There are a variety of different types of auto belays for sale, and price is always a factor when considering which auto belay to buy. The TRUBLUE Auto Belay is priced competitively but also has a low cost of ownership over time because TRUBLUE features reliable magnetic braking technology with fewer wear parts. The benefits of adding auto belays will also outweigh the cost of the device over time. Auto belays have also been shown to increase participation and increase memberships for climbing gyms, and auto belays increase opportunities for group programming like adult classes or birthday parties.
Cable or Webbing?
Cable-based auto belay systems can cause damage to climbing walls if the cable contacts the wall. Webbing-based systems like the TRUBLUE will not damage walls, plus climbers prefer webbing due to its more natural feel. In the case of the TRUBLUE, the webbing can be easily replaced in the field. Head Rush has outlined a number of steps that can be taken to extend the life of your webbing and to maximize the return on investment for your unit.
If you are adding a speed climbing wall, want to host speed competitions, or simply want to add speed training to your program, you are going to need a speed climbing auto belay. The International Federation of Sport Climbing has set requirements for auto belays used in official speed climbing competitions, listing that an auto belay used for speed climbing must be able to retract up a 15m wall in 4.5 seconds or faster.
The new TRUBLUE Speed Auto Belay only takes 3.5 seconds to retract up a 15 m speed climbing wall; that's fast enough to outpace the fastest speed climbers in the world. The device features the same reliable magnetic braking technology that TRUBLUE is known for and does not tug climbers up the wall. With the fast retraction speed, the TRUBLUE Speed Auto Belay is a great addition to any speed climbing wall.
Maintenance and Servicing
Maintenance is an important part of auto belay ownership. These are life safety devices and should be inspected regularly based on the manufacturer's instructions. The TRUBLUE Auto Belay requires annual service based on national safety standards. Annual service is an essential part of auto belay ownership, and buyers should be wary of auto belays with less stringent requirements.
Maintenance requirements and servicing costs can vary greatly by product. Cable replacement in cable-based systems is expensive, and costs for site visits by servicing technicians for stationary/fixed auto belays can be high as well. The webbing replacement for the TRUBLUE auto belay is a minimal expense, and annual servicing costs are a fraction of on-site service visit costs.
Making Your Choice
There are many auto belays for sale, but the TRUBLUE Auto Belay has made the choice easy for many climbing wall owners. TRUBLUE has quickly become the most widely used and most trusted auto belay in the world. Owners of the TRUBLUE Auto Belay love the reliable magnetic braking, ease of installation, and low cost of ownership. Climbers love the smooth decent and the soft catch that TRUBLUE provides.