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Edelrid Giga Jul Review

An incredibly versatile device that allows for every style of belay you would need on a multi-pitch climb
Edelrid Giga Jul
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $53 List | $52.85 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Three belay modes in on device, affordable, stainless steel inserts for greater longevity
Cons:  Slightly heavier than competitors, assisted braking mode requires learning a new belay technique, slider is foreign to most belayers
Manufacturer:   Edelrid
By Jeff Dobronyi & Andy Wellman  ⋅  Sep 16, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 17
  • Catch and Bite - 30% 8
  • Lowering and Rappelling - 30% 8
  • Feeding Slack - 20% 6
  • Weight and Bulk - 10% 7
  • Auto Block - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Edelrid Giga Jul combines assisted braking, standard tube-style use ("manual" mode), and auto-blocking all in one single device. Combining these three different modes allows for a nearly endless number of options when lead belaying, belaying the second, or rappelling, making this the most versatile device we have used. Switching between the various modes is as easy as simply flipping a slider from one side to the other and loading the rope in the opposite direction (there are pictorial markings on the device to ensure the device is loaded correctly). We love having assisted braking for lead belaying, even on multi-pitch climbs, and especially when there is some chance the leader may fall, and the Giga Jul allows us not to have to carry a second device for this purpose. Its weight and bulk make it slightly less appealing for long and difficult climbs or those with long approaches.

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Edelrid Giga Jul
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Edelrid Giga Jul
Awards  Best Buy Award    
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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69
Star Rating
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Pros Three belay modes in on device, affordable, stainless steel inserts for greater longevityGreat for belaying seconds on multi-pitch climbs, durable, good valueLightweight, easy to unlock, great for belaying two skinny ropesSimple to use, great for belaying the follower, lightweight, feeds slack easilyLightweight, smooth, compact
Cons Slightly heavier than competitors, assisted braking mode requires learning a new belay technique, slider is foreign to most belayersHeavier than the ReversoSofter aluminum seems less durable, not ideal with ropes thicker than 9.5mmNo brake assist, more expensive than similar options, pivot function is rarely usedWeak lock off
Bottom Line An incredibly versatile device that allows for every style of belay you would need on a multi-pitch climbAn excellent value for multi pitch climbing, rappels, and double rope ascentsA match made in rock heaven for skinny ropes and climbers counting weightA good alternative to auto-blocking tube devices, with a pivot function to help lower followersA lightweight entry level belay device that gives our Best Buy winner a run for the money
Rating Categories Edelrid Giga Jul Black Diamond ATC G... Petzl Reverso DMM Pivot Petzl Verso
Catch And Bite (30%)
8.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
Lowering And Rappelling (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Feeding Slack (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Weight And Bulk (10%)
7.0
8.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
Auto Block (10%)
4.0
5.0
3.0
4.0
0
Specs Edelrid Giga Jul Black Diamond ATC G... Petzl Reverso DMM Pivot Petzl Verso
Style Passive assisted braking Auto-block tube Auto-block tube Auto-block tube Tube style
Recommended Rope Diameter 7.8 mm - 10.0 mm 7.7 mm - 11 mm 7.5 mm - 11 mm 8.7 mm - 11 mm 7.5 mm - 11 mm
Weight (oz) 4.3 oz 2.8 oz 2.2 oz 2.5 oz 2 oz
Double Rope Rap? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Belay off anchor? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Assisted Braking? Yes, passive No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Giga Jul takes a standard autoblocking belay device and adds a slider that provides an assisted brake function. While all functions work well, the slider is a bit confusing to learn and isn't intuitive, making this device less suitable for handing to a partner without teaching them to use it first. Also, it is much heavier than other autoblocking devices, making it less suitable for climbs with long approaches or when weight is a consideration.

Know How to Use Your Climbing Belay Device
Since it has three different modes of usage, loading, and using this device correctly is potentially more confusing than with many others. Please be sure to carefully learn and practice before you head to the cliffs. Our advice here is intended to help you with your purchasing decision and is not intended as instruction. Here is a link to the instruction manual published by Edelrid, and here is a brief instructional video.

Performance Comparison


The Giga Jul, shown here in manual mode, is a versatile belay device...
The Giga Jul, shown here in manual mode, is a versatile belay device that can be used as a tube-style device, an auto-blocking device, or an ABD.

Catch and Bite


Lead or top-rope belaying with the Giga Jul can be done in either assisted braking or manual mode. A slider bar along the top of the device must be positioned all the way on either end, denoting either manual or assisted mode, and then the rope must be loaded into the device in the correct manner depending on the mode, which is different for each. Luckily, there are the standard hand and climber pictures on each side of the device to denote which way to load it properly.

The catch and bit provided by the Giga Jul in assisted braking mode...
The catch and bit provided by the Giga Jul in assisted braking mode is very effective at stopping the rope firmly in place, and holding it there as the climber rests. In manual mode one must firmly lock off the brake line in a downward direction, and this takes a bit more effort.

In manual mode, the device functions just like a standard tube and has some added friction grooves that help you catch and hold a falling climber. Compared to assisted braking modes and devices, this way of belaying requires the most effort and sustained gripping of the brake strand. In assisted braking mode, the rope is pinched between the carabiner and the device in much the same manner as almost every other passive assisted device. Although you must still hold onto the brake strand, the braking assist does most of the work, effectively locking the device when the climber falls, and easily holding their weight as they rest.

Lowering and Rappelling


The performance of the Giga Jul for lowering and rappelling is once again dependent on which mode you are using. For rappelling, we preferred using manual mode with a prusik backup, as this is far and away the smoothest way to rappel, and feels just like any other tube-style device. We most often lowered climbers in assist mode, because that is how we usually belayed them. Lowering a climber in assist mode requires keeping upward pressure on the thumb loop, which takes a bit of effort and is fairly jerky. Rappelling in assist mode is similarly effortful and jerky, and we preferred not to do it. That said, we like it as an option in case we don't have a prusik for backup.

Rappelling in assisted braking mode, as we are here, is tiring to...
Rappelling in assisted braking mode, as we are here, is tiring to stay in the sweet spot without jerking.

Feeding Slack


Feeding slack in manual mode with the Giga Jul is exactly like with any other tube-style device and uses the same techniques. This is the smoothest way to feed slack, and also the least likely for a belayer to accidentally short rope their leader. In brake assist mode, feeding slack requires looping the belayer's thumb through a special thumb loop, and then hold this loop up and out from the torso, to prevent the device from locking and keep the rope feeding smoothly. With the other hand, the belayer pulls slack through the device. We like how the device is ambidextrous, so lefties can use it just as easily as righties. However, we did notice that when you pull some slack back in through the device, you take your thumb out of the loop to do so, and then must look down, away from your climber, to find the thumb loop once again.

Feeding slack in assisted braking mode requires learning a new...
Feeding slack in assisted braking mode requires learning a new technique. The thumb is slotted into the loop as shown here, and this hand also holds the brake rope. By pushing up and out with the thumb, the device has enough room to allow slack to pass through, which is fed to the climber by being yanked out the top.

Weight and Bulk


The Giga Jul weighs 4.3 ounces, which is almost double the weight of other auto-block belay devices designed for multi-pitching. The added toggle switch adds a little bit of weight, but the main difference is in the stainless steel inserts in high wear areas, that ensure a longer life span for the Giga Jul. The lighter auto-block devices don't have that and are sure to wear out a bit quicker, so the added weight comes with the benefit of increased durability.

On our independent scale the Giga Jul weighted 4.3 ounces, which is...
On our independent scale the Giga Jul weighted 4.3 ounces, which is pretty light, but a fair bit heavier than comparable devices we compared it against.

Auto-Block


The Giga Jul can be clipped directly to the anchor for belaying up a second in auto-block mode. Of note is that the slider bar must be slid into manual mode for this usage, which is slightly confusing. But once in manual mode, it is set up and operated like any other auto-blocking belay device. There is slightly more friction when pulling slack through the devices compared with other "guide" style belay devices, which is a major drawback if you are going to use the device every day.

The Giga Jul works much like the other tube-style auto-block...
The Giga Jul works much like the other tube-style auto-block devices, and while it is very effective at locking off the seconders rope, there is a fair amount of friction when pulling slack through the device.

Value


The Giga Jul costs roughly the same as other passive assist belay devices, many of which do not allow for two ropes and are not ideal for multi-pitching. While it does cost a fair bit more than standard auto-block devices, we think the added expense is worth it, considering you also get assisted braking. Its increased durability also adds to the value.

Conclusion


The Edelrid Giga Jul is a true "all in one" belay device. Being able to rappel double ropes and belay in auto-block mode is a necessity for any multi-pitch belay device, but also adding in assisted braking greatly increases its value. We know many people who commonly carry a tube and a GriGri up multi-pitch climbs, just for this same versatility. With the Giga Jul, this need disappears, though the unit is considerably heavier than other similar devices on the market. It is heavy and bulky enough that we wouldn't recommend it for weight-conscious missions like hard multi-pitch routes or alpine climbing.

Being able to rappel double strands in either manual mode with a...
Being able to rappel double strands in either manual mode with a backup, or in assist mode, as we are testing here, is one of the many versatile ways to use this device.

Jeff Dobronyi & Andy Wellman