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Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
  • Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device



My vote: None ( 5.1 avg )


The Lifeguard belay device with assisted braking is compact, light and durable. Our new device has been constructed using hot forged aircraft grade aluminum and stainless steel for increased durability. The Lifeguard can be used with classic belay techniques with single ropes ranging from 8.9mm to 11mm for lead and top-rope climbing.

Retail price

US$ 99.00

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Device Type

Device Type


The most commonly used belay type also called an “ATC” or “tuber.” Other than a distinction between other belay device types, “Tube” is a rarely used term, most climbers just assume you're talking about this style when they refer to your "belay device."

Tube belay device example

Figure 8

Mostly used in rescue, canyoneering, tactical, work safety, or by old school climbers and rappellers. One reason they went out of popularity with recreational climbers is because they tend to create twists in the rope.

Figure 8 belay device example

Brake Assist

These devices assist in stopping the rope when a climber falls or hangs on the rope.

Brake Assist belay device example

Often referred to as “auto-blocking” but that’s not the official terminology because no belay device should be assumed to work automatically by itself, even if it feels like it does (or does most the time).


When simplicity is a must, or you started climbing before Tubers were the norm. Bonus: They tend to be very light weight.

Plate belay device example


For rappelling, not for belaying a lead climber or top-roping.

Descender example
Brake Assist - Mechanical
Weight (g)

Weight (g)

In grams, the weight, as stated by the manufacturer/brand.

154 g
Belay Brake Assist

Belay Brake Assist

This is when the belay device significantly reduces the amount of holding power the belayer must exert to stop a fall and hold a climber.

This is also called "assisted-braking" as the device must hold a significant amount of the climber’s weight; this term does not include friction-adding "teeth" found on some tube style belay devices.

Confusingly referred to as “auto-blocking” or “auto-locking” these terms wrongly imply the device will always, automatically, stop a fall or hold a climber even if the belayer/rappeller is hands-free. These devices are not meant to be used without a hand on the braking side of the rope; the belayers/rapppeller brake hand should always be on the brake rope.

Worth Considering

Most of the mechanical brake assist devices only hold a single strand of rope and are not capable of double-strand rappelling (the most common method of rappel).

Rope Options 1 rope only
Guide Mode

Guide Mode

This is when you belay directly off the anchor instead of your harness. Guide mode is helpful if you climb outdoors a lot because it reduces the holding power required from the belayer. When your partner falls or rests, the weight of the climber is held mostly by the anchor and the belay device.

Tubers and Plates

When belaying in "guide mode," the tubers and plates turn auto-blocking. During a fall, the climbing rope pinches the slack rope, completely stopping the movement of either rope. A common guide mode setup shown below.

A double rope tubular device guide mode example

Mechanical Brake Assist Devices

There is no difference in the functionality of the device. A brake-hand should always be on the rope to ensure the climber is caught in the case of a fall. A common guide mode setup shown below.

A single rope mechanical brake assist guide mode example

Where guide mode is used

  • multi-pitch sport or trad climbs
  • single-pitch where you need to bring up a follower (say for a walk-off)

Learn More

1 follower only


Teeth are only seen on tube devices. They add friction that helps grip the rope for more belaying control.

This is helpful for belaying heavier climbers. Teeth are becoming standard on new tube devices.

The belay device teeth are shown in the red circle

Worth Considering

Teeth do wear out. You can limit wear by rappelling on the side without teeth (if you don’t need the extra friction). Once they’re worn, you’ll still have a usable belay device, just less friction.

Rope Range (mm)

Rope Range (mm)

The range of rope diameters, in millimeters, that the manufacturer/brand specifies can safely be used.

This is the best case scenario and does not necessarily take into consideration that certified ropes have a tolerance of +/- .3 mm.

Recently, manufacturers have started to add an "optimized" rope range -- this is the range that will result in the nicest handling of the belay device.

8.9 mm  - 11.0 mm ­­­


The main climbing gear certifications are CE and UIAA--and normally the UIAA creates the rules that the CE body also supports. When possible, we try to list all the certifications the product carries.

To sell a climbing product in Europe, the device must be CE certified. There are no official requirements to sell climbing gear in the US. The UIAA certification is a voluntary process.

Learn More

Rock and Ice Certifications Guide
( 3.5 avg )
( 3.5 avg )

I'm biased because I prefer multi-pitch climbing to single-pitch climbing

I received a Lifeguard (free) for testing in 2015.

This device initially caught my attention because of the weight (light), price (cheaper than competitors), no plastic bits (less wearing), size (it's small!).

In use, I found it's really smooth to take in slack and it seems to catch a fall in the same way a GriGri does (literally in the camming mechanism and also in the user experience). Everything happens pretty quick and a dynamic belying skill is helpful. Fat ropes and light climbers definitely mean you have the device almost completely open to lower at a slowish speed.

I really do love that this is a small device and I can use it with an offset D for a super light setup. If weight is your top priority, this is one of the best mechanical brake assist options. (If you go non-mechanical, Edelrid's Jul2 or MegaJul are great super light brake assist options options).

I would give it 5 stars but...
- .5 star for a lack of slack collection while using in guide mode (a method most climbers probably won't use... I used guide mode while multi-pitch climbing and simul-rappelling in Mexico).
- .5 stars for lowering (really, the lowering is pretty similar to the Petzl GriGri, which I'm not a huge fan of either. With constant use, you'll become more comfortable and gain more control of the lowering, but for me I feel like I can regulate a larger range of rope diameters in a smoother fashion with a tuber. Aside: For a mechanical brake assist device the Trango Vergo has some of the smoothest lowering I've tried (I haven't tried the CAMP Matik yet that has an extendable handle for more control).

Note: Unlike the CAMP Matik and GriGri + (coming 2017), the Lifeguard does not have a safety backup/cam re-engagement if the handle is jammed back in the full throttle open mode by a [scared] climber. There is also no cam override mechanism for feeding slack quickly.

Outdoor Gear Lab Gear Review rating 3/5

The Mad Rock Lifeguard is a compact belay device that does fill a niche need for those who prefer to belay with an assisted braking device no matter the situation but want something a little smaller for long routes.

QX Adventures Media Review no rating given just a review

In a nutshell, Life Guard IMHO is a top winner in its class of camming device ABD. While the hefty price tag is going to keep most new ABD converts away but those looking to exchange their GRIGRI2 or Cinch for something better I think the choice is clear. The thing I wish the Life Guard will have is anti panic features and that will really set it ahead of its competitors. For now a competent belayer will be able to pick the Life Guard and get use to it pretty quickly.

Climbing Gear Review no rating given just a review

Experienced and new users alike felt comfortable belaying and being caught by the Lifeguard, because the cam engaged quickly when a falling climber weighted it, providing reliable and soft catches. The device lowered well, albeit slowly, especially for lighter folks, but testers never felt out of control. Built from forged aluminum, the Lifeguard is extremely durable, and weighing only 5.4 ounces, makes an excellent choice for trad climbers looking to shave ounces off their rack. 

Lifeguard Belay Device
Lifeguard Belay Device
Lifeguard vs. GriGri 2 - Close Up View
How to Choose your First Belay Device