Tried & Tested Reviews
Wild Country Pro Guide Lite
by Stephen Coughlan
The Pro Guide Lite builds upon the success of the Pro Guide but in a more ergonomic, sleeker package and is, as the name suggests, also lighter than the previous Pro Guide’s 84g at a respectable 76g. The acceptable rope diameter ranges are between 7.7mm and 11mm and for the avoidance of doubt these are clearly marked on the side of the unit. There is also a marking indicating the position where the passive rope/s should be, always useful to ensure the rope is in the optimum braking position.
My first impression is that the device is well put together with an excellent finish and a pleasing ergonomic design; there are cut-outs in the sidewall reducing weight and adding some ventilation for longer abseils. I initially used it with twin 8.4mm ropes on a multi-pitch route in the Highlands and found the rope control to be excellent with the deep ribbed grooves on the rope-handling side enabling the rope to be locked-off quickly and efficiently when required. The ropes ran freely enough through the device whilst seconding on multi-pitch routes making it straightforward and easy to pay out rope for the leader. The device continues to work well and as yet is showing minimal signs or wear. Similarly the ribbed grooves worked very well when abseiling, enabling precise rope control and lock-off as required. Using it on a particular single pitch abseil down a steep slab it was easy to hold myself in position whilst unravelling the inevitable rope bundle on the ledge midway down the pitch.
I also used the unit with a 9.8mm sport rope and was equally pleased with the results, the rope ran well when paying out and again the grooves did their job in helping to hold the rope under load. This would certainly be a bonus when holding somebody whilst practising moves on redpoint. The rope slots are also a good length and I found this particularly useful when inserting a larger diameter rope into them, requiring less force to be applied, as subsequently the bend radius is less acute.
In guide mode, the hole to attach to the belay, (always via a suitable screwgate karabiner) is set at 90 degrees to the body, I found this worked well as it allowed the plate to sit conveniently against the rock. The release slot on the Pro Guide Lite is larger than on the previous version. I found this allowed the insertion of a shrouded nose screwgate or snaplink should you need to release the plate under load.
Things have certainly come a long way since the introduction of the Sticht Plate, the Pro Guide Lite is a good quality, well-finished piece of equipment and does exactly what you would expect from a well-thought out well-engineered piece of gear. The design and shape were a good fit for my hand size making it easy to handle with minimal fumbles along the way. In essence the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite is a good value option for anyone wanting a quality, versatile, lightweight, easy-to-operate belay/abseil device.