Hands-on Gear Review

Edelrid Mega Jul Review

Price:  $36 List | $34.95 at Amazon
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Pros:  Lightweight, small, great value, strong braking assistance
Cons:  Terrible auto-block friction, rappelling/lowering can be hard on the shoulders
Bottom line:  The jack of all trades in belay devices, yet master of none.
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  passive assisted braking
Recommended Rope Diameter:  7.8 mm - 10.5 mm
Weight (oz):  2.3 oz.
Manufacturer:   Edelrid

Our Verdict

The Edelrid Mega Jul is a recent entrant into the field of passive assisted locking, or 'hybrid', belay devices. Its modified tube design provides considerable bite for catching lead falls and locks off by itself when your partner needs to rest. Weighing in at 2.3 oz and costing $35.95, it's also light and affordable. For these reasons we preferred it over its closest competition in passive assisted locking devices, the Mammut Smart Alpine. For all-around cragging though, our favorite remains the actively locking Petzl GriGri 2 because it has greater stopping power and smoother handling.

The Mega Jul's features could also be valued by multi-pitch climbers. However, the resistance it creates in auto-block mode is atrocious and we'd sooner use a munter hitch than subject our elbows to its abuse again. Instead, we think its usefulness is limited to dialed parties that want to pair the Mega Jul with a Black Diamond ATC Guide. With swapping, this allows both leader and follower to belay with braking assistance and when its time for rappels, there are two devices able to descend double strands.

Check out the nine other designs we tried in The Best Belay Device Review.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Climbing Belay Device


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jack Cramer
Review Editor

Last Updated:
Sunday
January 31, 2016

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A modified tube-style belay device, the Mega Jul is a passive assisted locking device.

Performance Comparison


The most sensible way to belay two followers at once is with an auto-blocking tube style device. The Edelrid Mega Jul was our favorite for skinny twin or half ropes.
The most sensible way to belay two followers at once is with an auto-blocking tube style device. The Edelrid Mega Jul was our favorite for skinny twin or half ropes.

Catch/Bite


We consider the Mega Jul a passive assisted braking device. A clever slot in the side of the tube body causes the rope to tightly pinch between the device and belay biner to provide extra braking strength. This assistance is stronger in most applications than a classic tube but not as powerful as the active assisted braking devices, like the Petzl GriGri 2. Compared to the Mammut Smart Alpine, our testers found the Mega Jul's catch to be more confidence inspiring and stronger at locking off when a climber is already hanging on the rope. Additionally, unlike the Smart Alpine, the Mega Jul is reversible and can be used as a standard tube device when a fall is unlikely.

Lowering/Rappelling


During rappels face the green thumb loop away from you and the Mega Jul claims a unique ability to auto-lock. We found this to work in our testing  but it is not without downside. Feeding rope in this position requires upward pressure on the thumb loop that can quickly fatigue your arm/shoulder.
During rappels face the green thumb loop away from you and the Mega Jul claims a unique ability to auto-lock. We found this to work in our testing, but it is not without downside. Feeding rope in this position requires upward pressure on the thumb loop that can quickly fatigue your arm/shoulder.
Depending on how you orient the Mega Jul it can operate as a standard or assisted locking device while lowering or rappelling. In standard mode, with the green loop facing towards you, it operates like any other tube. Switch it around into assisted braking mode and you will have to apply upward pressure on the green thumb loop for rope to feed through. Cease this pressure and the Mega Jul is designed to lock, making it easier to clean gear or undo tangles during a rappel. Although we like this feature in theory, in practice it requires that you engage your shoulder and can exhaust those muscles during long descents.

Feeding Slack


Feeding slack with the Mega Jul is a similar motion to any tube device. It's assisted braking ability, however, requires you apply upward pressure on the green thumb loop to keep the device from locking up while paying out rope. This mechanism creates more resistance than a basic tube but is easier than the other passive assisted braking device we tried, the Mammut Smart Alpine.

Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)


The above diagram is from the Edelrid Mega Jul manual (downloaded 2/1/2016)  describing how to belay a second climber from an anchor. Getting this correct is a bit tricky. Here's the text from the manual: "8. Securing a top rope climber from a fixed point (e. g. a station): One or two top rope climbers may be secured independently (be sure not to confuse the ropes!). The securing device must be attached at the fixed point by means of the attachment (Fig. 8a). The rope slings are fed through the rope slots and are then attached to a second karabiner (brake karabiner). Attention: The brake karabiner must be attached to the securing devices on the side opposite to the wire bracket and must directly contact it (Fig. 8b/8c). When securing a top rope climber with a single rope  the carabiner must be attached to the rope loop and through the device (Fig. 8d) instead of attaching it to the rear of the device only as when securing with two ropes (8b/e)." Please consult your Edelrid manual and follow the instructions carefully  as their recommendations may have changed.
The above diagram is from the Edelrid Mega Jul manual (downloaded 2/1/2016), describing how to belay a second climber from an anchor. Getting this correct is a bit tricky. Here's the text from the manual: "8. Securing a top rope climber from a fixed point (e. g. a station): One or two top rope climbers may be secured independently (be sure not to confuse the ropes!). The securing device must be attached at the fixed point by means of the attachment (Fig. 8a). The rope slings are fed through the rope slots and are then attached to a second karabiner (brake karabiner). Attention: The brake karabiner must be attached to the securing devices on the side opposite to the wire bracket and must directly contact it (Fig. 8b/8c). When securing a top rope climber with a single rope, the carabiner must be attached to the rope loop and through the device (Fig. 8d) instead of attaching it to the rear of the device only as when securing with two ropes (8b/e)." Please consult your Edelrid manual and follow the instructions carefully, as their recommendations may have changed.
The biggest problem we have with the Mega Jul is the friction it creates in auto-block mode. It had the greatest resistance by far under the parameters of our test. It's also very carabiner dependent and we noticed a 35% difference between the best and worst biners we tried—the Petzl Attache performed the best and is what we used in the official test.

The Mega Jul set up in our tests of belaying a second climber from an anchor (Auto-Block). Note that this configuration is a bit tricky  and it is crucial that you read the manual carefully. The configuration differs for belaying one climber vs. two  so use caution to make sure you have it set up properly.
The Mega Jul set up in our tests of belaying a second climber from an anchor (Auto-Block). Note that this configuration is a bit tricky, and it is crucial that you read the manual carefully. The configuration differs for belaying one climber vs. two, so use caution to make sure you have it set up properly.
During a long multi-pitch route you can expect to waste significantly more energy using this device to belay off of an anchor than with any other device, including a simple munter hitch. On the bright side, the Mega Jul does better with skinny twin and half ropes, but we failed to conduct a full-scale test with these ropes.

Weight/Bulk


At 2.3 ounces, the Mega Jul is lightest of the assisted braking options and only 0.1 oz heavier than the lightest auto-block belay device, the Petzl Reverso 4. Size-wise it's also very svelte, with the main tube assembly among the smallest of all. Its wire attachment loop is on the large side, but how important is that really? Not much.

Durability


The main body of Mega Jul is made of unnervingly thin stainless steel. Although it was hard to trust this skinny material at first, over time we realized it holds up better to rope friction than its thicker aluminum competitors. We think it will only be outlasted by the other heavier stainless options.

Best Applications


The versatility of the Mega Jul means it's suitable for a variety of applications. At its low price it can be an affordable option for sport climbers seeking braking assistance. Some alpinists are also touting the combination of a Mega Jul and standard auto-block device (ATC Guide or Reverso 4) shared between partners. With this arrangement, the second can belay the leader with the Mega Jul's assisted braking. When the leader builds an anchor they bring the follower up in the ATC's standard auto-block. Then, the partners swap devices and repeat. This way both leader and follower are always belaying with braking assistance and when the summit is reached there are two devices capable of two strand rappels.

Value


At $35.95, the Mega Jul is very affordable for a belay device with auto-block and assisted braking modes. We also believe the stainless steel construction improves its durability, further enhancing the value.

Conclusion


We were initially impressed with the promise of the Edelrid Mega Jul. This a light, compact belay device that offers assisted braking functions at a fraction of the price of the competition. Ultimately though, the performance of this passive braking assistance is a significant compromise from active assisted locking devices like the Petzl GriGri 2. It's just not as smooth or as strong. Furthermore, the Mega Jul's friction in auto-block mode was horrific. We're intrigued by the future potential of passive assisted braking devices, but aren't yet willing to recommend this one over the competition we saw.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Mega Jul is designed for ropes between 7.8 and 10.5 mm in diameter. Its smaller cousin is the Edelrid Micro Jul for skinny twin and half ropes from 6.9 to 8.0 mm. Edelrid also makes a passive single-slot model called the Jul2 and an active assisted locking device called the Edelrid Eddy.

Video



Jack Cramer

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 1, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.3)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (2)
3 star: 25%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Feb 1, 2016 - 01:02pm
WML · Climber · Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock

The Edelrid Mega Jul gets a bad rap on the official ODGL review as far as the guide mode (belaying the second) is concerned. If you use the proper biner (not rocket science…round stock, pear-shaped biner), belaying with this thing is super casual.

Something that shows me an unnerving lack of attention to detail (and proper device use) while reviewing this device is the lack of knowledge of how to rappel with the device. While the auto-block rappel function on the device is far from perfect (it locks up too much), the lack of even mentioning that a carabiner can be inserted and used as a handle on the non-handle side of the device (there is a slot where it can be inserted), is disconcerting.

Anyway, as far as an actual review….the device locks just as well as a Grigri for me on a lead fall, raps smoothly in low-friction mode, belays smoothly when configured properly in guide mode, and has shown durability that far exceeds my old Reverso and ATC Guides. The steel just simply doesn't wear down nearly as fast (and cools way quicker) than the aluminum on the other devices.

On the negative side, the rapping issue needs to be fixed….sometimes even while using the proper biner as a handle in the belay device, it won't start rapping. Definitely not a cluster you want to deal with while exposed.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   May 1, 2018 - 10:26am
Levi Goldman · Climber · Sacramento

I agree with the other post in that the reviewers are inexperienced with the tool. Rappelling with the Megajul in locking mode is a rookie mistake, flip it over for a smoother rappel. I've used it in guide mode just fine with 9.5 rope diameters.

I will say its not as smooth as the ATC Guide, but that's the tradeoff. If you want the safety and locking effect of a Grigri with the weight and versatility of an ATC, then you put up with a little finicky-ness.

I had a situation where my partner fell onto the anchor and part of the belay ripped, pulling me down and tearing the rope out of my hand. The Megajul caught my partner, and a regular ATC would have not done this. The idea that the belayer always holds the rope when belaying is unrealistic in that we have things to do e.g. rope manage, eat, etc, and in a bad fall the belayer can be jostled sufficiently to lose the brake hand.

One of the best $35 I've ever spent, it kept me out of the Accidents in North American Mountaineering report.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   Feb 1, 2016 - 02:49pm
ppdd · Climber
The device offers most of the benefits of the gri gri with a few advantages of its own.
  1. Simplicity. It operates almost identically to an ATC and you can transition to and from any other ATC without thinking about it. A Gri Gri is smoother, but belaying with it is a different thing from a muscle memory perspective. While the thumb loop is a thing to get used to, it's still the same motion and it encourages good techqnique.
  1. Failure mode. People seem to get get dropped on Gri Gris in two situations. This is better in both. Hold the climber strand when they fall, and it'll still lock every time. Panic and freeze up stiff when the climber starts to lower too fast or falls while you're feeding slack and the force of the fall will still probably jerk the device hard enough to engage the locking mechanism. It's just a bit more more tolerant of belayer error.
  1. Nice catch. This thing locks less a bit less aggressively than the gri gri and few inches of rope will slide through in a big lead fall. This isn't a huge advantage on a sport climb with good bolts, but for trad climbers the softer catch may keep your pro in place. The biggest disadvantage I've seen mentioned is some discussion of whether it offers enough braking force in a factor 2 fall, but…does anything? Overall, I have taken and caught hundreds of falls on ropes (all around 9.5-10mm) and it's always provided enough braking that I felt it was essentially capable of fully arresting 99% of falls. Would it be sufficient in the unlikely event of a particularly hard fall coinciding with an unconscious belayer? It might not be perfect, but it will provide some helpfully negative delta V.
  1. Ability to do it all. I agree that rappelling with this device in the assisted locking mode is an exercise in frustration. Even in standard tuber mode, it's not ideal It locks when you go to take out slack to test weight the system before rappelling, which is a bit annoying. You might want to carry an ATC-Guide to cover all your bases. Of course, you'd be doing that with a gri gri, too, if you were going to need to manage more than one strand. Unlike the gri gri + guide pair, if you drop the Guide the Mega Jul still has you covered…
  1. Weight, durability, price, zero moving parts, size, speed of getting the rope in, etc.

It's probably impossible to engineer a perfect belay device. However, if I only had one, this would be it. Even with a gri gri at my disposal, I just find this a nicer solution for the gym and single pitch sport. It does everything an ATC Guide does, while also providing a degree of belayer redundancy that hope you never need.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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