Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $95
Pros: Smooth rope handling, auto-locking
Cons: heavy, expensive, not recommended ropes less than 10mm
Best Uses: Sport, trad, big wall, especially solid on thicker ropes
The Petzl GriGri had our Editor's choice award until the GriGri 2 came around. The GriGri 2 now gets the honor. But do you need to upgrade right away? Read our Petzl GriGri 2 Review to find our more.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The GriGri It is among the easiest devices to lower a climber with, is intuitive to use and is durable. Whether rappelling down ropes 3000 feet up El Capitan or lowering someone in the gym, the ease of handling is hard to beat. It scored near the top of many of our tests and is the device that all the testers use when belaying at the crag, gym, sport climbs and big walls. (We prefer the Petzl Reverso 3 when multi pitch climbing).
Other than being heavy and expensive, the only problems with this device are the rope size limitations and the difficulty of easily using it while keeping your brake hand on the rope instead of the device. Most climbers you see belaying with the GriGri usually have their brake hand on the device and not on the rope. Petzl strongly recommends belaying like this only for a second or two to feed rope fast while the leader is clipping. However, the GriGri is much less smooth to pay out slack with than the Trango Cinch. As a result, you rarely see lead belayers with a GriGri doing it "the correct way" with their brake hand on the rope 99 percent of the time rather than on the device. For most people this is not a big deal. However, now that sub 9.5mm ropes are all the rage, there are more and more stories of how improper use of the GriGri led to climbers being lowered too fast or dropped.
It is important to watch this video showing the proper use of a GriGri.
Petzl recommends this device on ropes down to 10mm (The GriGri 2 is rated down to 8.9mm ropes). Petzl says you can even use thinner ropes but need to pay much closer attention. In contrast, the Trango Cinch is recommend down to 9.4mm.
Chris Van Leuven knows of many, many climbers that use the Gri Gri on ropes as slim as Well, we dont want to give anyone ideas, so lets keep it at "ropes sub-10mm." He has personally been dropped to the deck when his belayer failed to keep his hand on the brake, admittedly while using a sub 10mm rope. He knows friends that have backfed the device, which resulted in at least one life-changing injury.
Chris Van Leuven briefly wanted to replace his GriGri after being dropped by an experienced climber. After shopping around and trying devices such as the Faders Sum which admittedly works very well on sub-10mm ropes he decided to stick with the GriGri and replace his belayer instead. The GriGri belays and rappels (a single rope) smoothly. He cant find another device on the market that does these things as well. That is surprising and has him happily taking his GriGri on nearly every route he does: single pitch trad, sport all the way to big wall free climbing.
Chris McNamara remembers being half way up on the Wyoming Sheep Ranch on El Capitan when it appeared he had dropped his GriGri. He frantically looked around for it and couldn't find it anywhere. He had to do a long aid lead without the GriGri and hated the experience so much he contemplated bailing. Luckily he found it on the next pitch. But for about five hours he was terrified and realized just how nice it is to have this device on a big wall.
$95 is a lot of money, especially for a belay device. The Trango Cinch also scores high and is only $70. The Mammut Smart is only $30.
The GriGri is the go-to device for most of the climbers we know. Big wall climbers use it. Tradsters. Sport climbers. Gym climbers. It works to belay directly off the anchor. Works great when belaying off the harness, too. The only places we wouldnt take it are alpine routes or ice climbs (ice and the GriGri dont mix). After 10 years of heavy use, Chris Mac wore out the friction plate. Thats 10 years of heavy use. He went out and bought a new one.
— Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 2, 2010
Credit: Petzl website
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