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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Heavy-ish, expensive, single strand only
It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the most popular belay device in the world is also, in our opinion, the best. The GriGri 2 offers the same smooth assisted locking mechanism that made its predecessor the old Editors' Choice winner, in a lighter, more compact, design. In addition, the range now officially extends down to 8.9 mm ropes. Across all tasks, from catching falls to lowering partners, feeding slack, and multi-pitch belays, this device is our dominant favorite. It is limited to a single strand though, so you'll need another device for two rope rappels, and other heavier options are a little more durable. Nonetheless, the GriGri 2 inspires confidence in climber and belayer alike and it remains our Editors' Choice.
Shoppers discouraged by the $100 pricetag can consider the Best Buy winning, Black Diamond ATC Guide or other affordable options in The Best Belay Device Review.
RELATED: Our complete review of belay device
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Gri Gri 2 is the most popular assisted locking belay device.
Petzl lists the GriGri 2's acceptable rope range from 8.9 to 11.0 mm and ideal between 9.4 and 10.3 mm. In our experience the best size is towards the lower end of this, about 9.2 to 9.6 mm. Within these diameters the GriGri 2 still provides a strong, reliable catch but lowering and feeding slack is also easier. Like all the assisted locking devices, it can independently support the weight of a climber resting on the rope. This feature is the primary reason to get one of these devices and will save you a lot of hand strength when belaying a hang-dogging partner. The GriGri 2 was bested in the catch/bite category by only the Camp Matik because that assisted locking device has a gradual camming action that lowers impact forces—the GriGri 2's cam produces a static catch. You can still provide a soft catch though with attentive belaying and by easing yourself off the ground as you receive the force of a fall.
The GriGri 2 is a single strand device, so for two strand rappels you'll need a separate device. To lower or rappel pull a lever on the left side of the device towards your body. We preferred the wide range and smoothness of the GriGri 2's lowering action compared to the other assisted locking models. Although it doesn't include an anti-panic mechanism like the Edelrid Eddy or Camp Matik, it's better in high friction situations where those anti-panic features can become a problem.
Feeding slack to a leader is smoother and easier with the GriGri 2 than with the other assisted braking options. There's less resistance through the device than with the Camp Matik and a lower chance of a short roping tug of war than with the Trango Cinch. Compared to the basic tube-style devices though, the GriGri 2 takes more skill and it's good to first learn how to belay with one of those models.
Proper belay technique is required with the GriGri 2 or any other belay device. One study reported observing a quarter of GriGri users feeding slack incorrectly—taking their brake hand off the rope when paying out rope. Climbers have been dropped and injuries resulted due to this mistake. Please watch the Petzl video at the bottom of this page that demonstrates the proper 'thumb up' technique.
Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)
The GriGri 2 tied with the Trango Cinch for the least resistance while belaying a follower directly off an anchor. Each exhibited the lowest friction for one of the two different ropes we tested (9.0 or 10.1 mm). Both gave less than a sixth the resistance of the popular Black Diamond ATC Guide and Petzl Reverso that are advertised for their auto-block prowess. On a long multi-pitch route this difference could save you tons of energy and reduce the chance of overuse injuries to your elbows or shoulders.
At 6.1 ounces, the GriGri 2 is the lightest mechanical assisted braking device we tested. The 6.6 oz Trango Cinch, however, is still a bit smaller. Although it is possible to get braking assistance with lighter passive models like the Edeldrid Mega Jul or Mammut Smart Alpine, both of these devices come with their own drawbacks in smoothness and higher friction in auto-block mode.
The GriGri 2 is our favorite all around assisted braking device. We think it's great for sport cragging, multi-pitch trad routes near your limit, or marathon belays on big wall aid climbs. The ubiquitousness of GriGris also makes it more likely your partner will know how to use yours when they forget or misplace their own device.
$99.95 is a lot to pay for a belay device, but we think the GriGri 2 and your life are worth it. For that money you get a quality piece of gear that will likely withstand 4+ years of regular use. Although it's possible to save some dough with the Trango Cinch or a passive assisted braking option, we think the superior performance of the GriGri 2 justifies the extra cost.
Original GriGri vs. GriGri 2
If you have the original GriGri, do you need to upgrade to the GriGri 2? If you do a lot of leading on 8.9-9.9mm ropes or just want the latest and greatest gear, get the GriGri 2. If you climb on 10mm or thicker ropes, you can probably hold off on the upgrade until your GriGri wears out. If you mainly toprope in the gym, the original GriGri is just fine and may even be better since it works better with ropes thicker than 10 mm. Both devices handle about the same but the GriGri 2 is lighter, less bulky, and allows you to use thinner ropes.
It's starting to get out of date, but a batch of GriGri 2's was recalled in 2011 due to a safety issue. We include it here in case any of these devices are still out in use.
Petzl's GriGri 2 recall concerns GRIGRI 2's (D14 2O, D14 2G, D14 2B ) with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136.
From the Petzl website:
"Petzl has discovered that exerting excessive force on the fully extended handle of the GRIGRI 2 can cause internal damage, such that the GRIGRI 2 handle may become stuck in the open position." Read more here.
Other Versions and Accessories
Petzl Reverso 4
Petzl Attache 3D or Petzl Attache
Petzl Cordex Belay Gloves
— Jack Cramer
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 31, 2016
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