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The devices featured here are of three main styles: active assist braking, passive assist braking, and tube-style, so be sure to identify your own needs to help you narrow down the selection. Follow the Manufacturer's Instructions Carefully Belay devices are important pieces of climbing safety equipment, but it can be difficult to master them all.
Learning exactly how to use your device properly is crucial. Improper use of a belay device may result in death or serious injury. It is very important that you read and carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions. We encourage you to visit the manufacturer's website and make sure you have their latest documentation for your particular device, as manufacturer recommendations sometimes change over time as new safety guidelines are developed.
Value Belay device prices range from dirt cheap to surprisingly expensive. The low end of the price range is populated by tube-style devices, whereas the more expensive models are the active assisted braking devices. If you're looking for the best value out there, we've picked out a few that we consider exceptional.
To begin, the Black Diamond ATC XP can't be beaten on price and is a solid and reliable option, although we recommend the Black Diamond ATC Guide as another great budget buy because it is far more versatile with an auto-block function at only a tiny increase in cost. Although they are expensive, high scorers like the GriGri and Trango Vergo are a great value due to their incredible performance catching leader falls.
Catch and Bite This category rates how easy it is to catch a fall with a belay device. Of course, every belay device here will catch a fall by arresting the rope provided they are used with proper technique, but due to their unique designs, the assisted braking devices tend to do this with more reliability and far less effort than a standard tube-style device. For instance, to catch a fall with a tube-style device, the belayer must hold the rope down by their hip while also gripping tightly to the rope to keep it from slipping.
With an assisted braking device, whether passive or active, the slightest amount of gripping pressure on the brake rope will provide the tension and friction required to lock up the device, holding the climber in place. This brings up another important consideration in this category: how easy it is to hold a climber locked off.
Obviously, the assisted braking devices are supreme once again, and the ability to easily hold a climber for an unlimited amount of time with little to no effort is the number one argument for using one of these devices while climbing. The final consideration for this metric is the range of rope diameters that a belay device is capable of gripping. Ropes on the narrow side can slip through some belay devices that don't take narrow ropes into consideration. As the quality of rope manufacturing has increased, climbers are far more frequently using thinner ropes, with 8.
On the upper end of the scale, ropes over 9. As more and more climbers transition to thinner ropes, this is becoming slightly less of an issue, but once again, added versatility in regard to rope sizes only increases the value of a belay device. The active-assisted belay devices that employ a spring-loaded cam to pinch the rope when it is under tension provide the easiest and most reliable catch.
Due to their cam, they even allow a small amount of rope a couple of inches at most to slip through the device as they lock, which increases the dynamic aspect of a catch, reducing the forces on the climber, rope, and gear slightly. Both of the GriGris are also now capable of handling ropes down to 8. It has one of our favorite catches, and it engages fully even with lighter climbers.
In "active" models, braking is created by a pinching mechanism inside the device itself; "passive" models rely on a pinch between the carabiner and the device to hold the rope. Always use these devices with the manufacturer-recommended carabiner whenever possible usually an HMS type , and expect that any deviance along with changes in rope diameter will affect its performance. The "passive" Mammut Smart 2.
The brake end must always be in control and lower than the climber end for the mechanism to engage. These devices require substantial strength on the brake hand when catching a fall and continued lock-off when top rope belaying or belay your second. The passive assisted braking devices require a solid brake hand on the rope at all times as do all devices really. That's where lowering and rappelling come in. Some of the devices we tested began with an automatic advantage in this category — the ability to rappel two strands.
Consider these models only for single-pitch routes or multi-pitches in combination with a two-strand device. The difference in lowering performance comes down to the smoothness of the action and the range it is good for. We saw the most consistent lowering performance from the tube devices, as well as the Wild Country Revo. Although the assisted braking models all provide the ability to lock the device and rest hands-free, they often exhibit narrow ranges and jerkiness when lowering.
It lowers smoothly and jerk-free, largely due to the absence of an anti-panic mechanism. If you pull back too far on the lever, the unit locks up. While this is to prevent someone from accidentally dropping themselves or their partner, it creates a narrow window between lowering and locking up. These devices are unquestionably safer for lowering partners but can also be perceived as more annoying to use.
If you pull back too far or too quickly the device will stop lowering. It takes some practice to dial in the sweet spot for the devices with anti-panic handles. Credit: Ross Robinson The passive assisted devices have some of the poorest lowering action. We often find them jerky when compared to tube devices. However, because you need to push and pull on them quite a bit to lower your partner, they are quite safe to use and lock up as soon as you let go.
No matter which device you choose, it's important to tie a knot in the ends of the rope. Rappelling and lowering accidents are two of the most common types of accidents and are often easily preventable. Feeding Slack Feeding slack is a category we include to measure each device's usefulness for belaying a lead climber.
A lead climbing belay requires more attentiveness and rope management skill than a top-rope belay. The ability to take and give slack quickly and precisely is important to ensure a good belay —- especially when close to the ground. The most important thing to consider is how easily and safely you can feed slack without the device locking up. Devices that lock up on a hair-trigger are very difficult to master and are the cause of many lead climbers' frustrations as they are continuously short-roped by their belayer.
A secondary consideration, since we are all guilty of making mistakes, is how easy the device is to release once locked up so that slack can be fed quickly again. When a climber is yanking for rope, desperate to make a clip before falling, and the device locks up, being able to quickly release it can make a difference between success or an extra-long fall. Tube devices require the simplest motion to take or feed slack and receive the best scores in this category because of it.
We look for high-caliber firms that are locally entrenched and well positioned to capitalize on market shifts early where others may lose out. The local market participation and insights at a micro-market level are important in evaluating the risks as well as the opportunities associated with shifting market dynamics. We believe that underwriting investment partners is as important as underwriting property investments because operating platform risk has historically been underestimated.
As a result, all operating partners under consideration for a PJV investment mandate are subject to a rigorous underwriting and approval process. Belay maintains full discretion over its PJV commitments, including investment and major management decisions affecting every property investment, and retains the exclusive right to terminate the PJV commitment as warranted for performance-related issues or even in the event that the strategy is no longer viable.
How did you create this mentor program to help build this link between emerging managers and institutional investors? Chase: Prior to joining in the launch of AVP, I was the president of the western division of a large development company. We had six regional offices run by local partners, each of which reported up to me.
What I learned through my job overseeing the development company was that I was working with a lot of very skilled development partners that were very good at finding deals and executing the business plans.
However, they were not particularly good at risk management, nor were they very disciplined in their approach to underwriting investments or in understanding other institutional best practices. Why is it hard for operators, emerging managers to gain access to institutional capital? West: If you look at the fundraising environment, the trend really favors larger funds and more established firms with longer track records.
So, it is hard for new or younger firms to gain access to institutional investor capital. The trend is going against them, which is ironic because investors see value in gaining direct access to the talent, to the deal sourcing and the enhanced control position. Unfortunately, efficiency drives these investors to take a different approach.
For example, they want fewer managers with the ability to make larger commitments. Belay offers a bridge for smaller firms with talented management teams to access the institutional investor community. Chase: With our current venture, we have made commitments to three firms, none of which had an institutional track record or experience managing discretionary capital for institutional investors. Even though they each had a strong management team, it would have been difficult for them to raise an institutional fund or get the support of the consulting community.
The benefit of our underwriting process is that we can really dig deep through our proprietary forensic analysis and essentially build a track record from scratch if warranted since it is difficult for these firms to attract institutional capital without having an under-writable track record, so to speak.
Chase: Highly collaborative, both amongst our team and with our partners. Paramount to meeting the long-term objective of our program as supported by CalSTRS is managing the risks of investing with firms who may be in transition, either culturally in adopting a fiduciary mindset or as they enter a new stage of growth.
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Note In most cases, there is a broker fee to buy or sell mutual fund holdings. Best For: Mutual funds are a good fit for investors who want a diverse portfolio without the hassle of managing their investments. Investing in Real Estate Yes, you can buy a home for yourself or properties to rent, or you can purchase securities such as a real estate investment trust REIT.
REITs have a structure much like a mutual fund, where a professional manager handles the individual assets held within the trust's portfolio. However, with a REIT, all of the investments are only in real estate. Best For: Real estate is best for those investors who are interested in real assets and have the experience to make the right picks.
Investing in real estate without knowledge of the asset, location, and regulations could lead to headaches and a poorly performing asset. Other Investing Structures and Entities When you move beyond stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate, you encounter different types of investment entities. For example, millions of people will never own a share of stock or a bond. Instead, they invest their money in a family business, such as a restaurant, retail shop, or rental property.
More experienced investors tend to invest in hedge funds or private equity funds or trade in futures and options contracts. Others will buy shares of publicly traded limited partnerships through their broker. Investing Through the Ups and Downs When bad things happen to your investments or savings, you don't need to panic.
Sometimes, you need to take a hit before you can make some money again, and holding on until the downturn ends is often the best plan. Even though there are thousands of investments available to any individual, some strategies have stood the test of time.
Some basics include buying and holding long-term, diversifying, dollar-cost averaging, and choosing quality funds with the lowest fees. Besides reading and learning as much as you can, one of the best things you can do is talk to a financial planner or accountant who can help you better understand the world of investing. The Volcker Rule bans most banks from proprietary trading, such as day trading stocks and commodities for short-term profit. Instead of trading on the stock market, banks profit through lending.
If you want to buy a house, a car, or some other big purchase that you can't afford all at once, then banks will lend you that money in exchange for interest payments. These types of loans to individuals and businesses are investments that generate profit for the bank.
What types of investments are considered "securities"? Securities are investment instruments. As a general rule of thumb, if the investment can be easily bought or sold, it's a security. Stocks, bonds, and mutual fund shares are all examples of securities. Real estate property may be considered a security, but that's an example of a less clear issue. Property owners don't always see their property as an investment vehicle they trade.
Investing in securities involves risks, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities. Asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. The performance data contained herein represents past performance which does not guarantee future results. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate so that shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.
Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance quoted. For performance information current to the most recent month end, please contact us. Market price returns are based on the prior-day closing market price, which is the average of the midpoint bid-ask prices at 4 p.
Market price returns do not represent the returns an investor would receive if shares were traded at other times. Returns include fees and applicable loads. Since Inception returns are provided for funds with less than 10 years of history and are as of the fund's inception date.
Before investing consider carefully the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the fund, including management fees, other expenses and special risks. This and other information may be found in each fund's prospectus or summary prospectus, if available. Always read the prospectus or summary prospectus carefully before you invest or send money.
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