Edelrid Mega Jul Review
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Edelrid Mega Jul
|Price||$44.50 at Amazon|
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$34.95 at REI
|$32.95 at Backcountry|
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$24.95 at REI
|Pros||Lightweight, small, great value, strong braking assistance||Great for belaying seconds on multi-pitch climbs, durable, good value||Lightweight, easy to unlock, great for belaying two skinny ropes||Lightweight, smooth, compact||Good friction control when rappelling and lowering, smooth paying out rope|
|Cons||Rappelling and lowering autoblock is hard on the shoulders, brake assist friction depends on carabiner used||Heavier than the Reverso||Softer aluminum seems less durable, not ideal with ropes thicker than 9.5mm||Weak lock off||0.2 oucnes heavier than the Verso, you must hold the weight of the climber when they weight the rope|
|Bottom Line||A great belay device for light-and-fast climbers and alpinists on hard multi pitch routes||An excellent value for multi pitch climbing, rappels, and double rope ascents||A match made in rock heaven for skinny ropes and climbers counting weight||A lightweight entry level belay device that gives our Best Buy winner a run for the money||A simple design suited for building proper belay technique|
|Rating Categories||Edelrid Mega Jul||Black Diamond ATC G...||Petzl Reverso||Petzl Verso||Black Diamond ATC XP|
|Catch and Bite (30%)|
|Lowering and Rappelling (30%)|
|Feeding Slack (20%)|
|Weight and Bulk (10%)|
|Auto Block (10%)|
|Specs||Edelrid Mega Jul||Black Diamond ATC G...||Petzl Reverso||Petzl Verso||Black Diamond ATC XP|
|Style||Passive assisted braking||Auto-block tube||Auto-block tube||Tube style||Tube style|
|Recommended Rope Diameter||7.8 mm - 10.5 mm||7.7 mm - 11 mm||7.5 mm - 11 mm||7.5 mm - 11 mm||7.7 mm - 11 mm|
|Weight (oz)||2.5 oz||2.8 oz||2.2 oz||2 oz||2.2 oz|
|Double Rope Rap?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Belay off anchor?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Assisted Braking?||Yes, passive||No||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A modified tube-style belay device, the Mega Jul is a passive assisted braking device that offers all of the functionality of both tube devices and active assisted braking devices in one compact unit.
The information we present is intended to help you make a purchasing decision and should not be construed as advice or instruction. Here is a link to the instruction manual, with pictures!
Catch and Bite
The Mega Jul is a passive assisted braking device. When loaded in "assist" mode, a clever slot in the side of the tube body causes the rope to tightly pinch between the device and belay carabiner to provide extra braking strength. This assistance is not as powerful as that provided by the active assisted braking devices on the market, but it generally catches falls completely and holds the fallen climber in place without slipping.
Compared to pretty much every other passive ABD, 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. We did notice that the belay carabiner mattered in our testing. When using a thick, round-stock locking carabiner as the belay carabiner, the Mega Jul held falls completely and without slipping, whereas if we used skinny, lightweight I-beam locking carabiners, some slipping was noticeable, around one centimeter of rope slip per second, even if the lead climber was fully hanging on the rope. This slipping takes very little energy to stop, but it requires some attention nonetheless.
Lowering and Rappelling
Depending on how you orient the Mega Jul, it can operate as a standard tube or an assisted locking device while rappelling and lowering. In standard tube mode, with the green loop facing towards the climber's torso, it operates like any other tube, with no brake hand assist. When oriented with the green thumb loop away from the climber's torso, the brake strand is pinched when the device is weighted, preventing the climber from rappelling down the rope or lowering a climber on a top rope. This brake assist is released by pushing gentle force upwards with the thumb of one hand while both palms maintain control of the brake strand.
This "brake assist" function is especially useful for lead belaying and safe, controlled lowering of climbers from the anchors of single-pitch climbs. However, our testers also enjoyed this function when rappelling. If using a tube-style belay device, the first rappeler would need a hands-free backup like a prusik, but the Mega Jul in assist mode eliminates the need for this hitch. However, during both lowering and rappelling in assist mode, some shoulder strength is required to lift the green loop up and away from the belayer's harness, which can exhaust the shoulder muscles during long, multi-pitch rappels. This feature also creates a bumpy ride down, as the assist constantly catches and releases, and it's hard to find the sweet spot.
Feeding slack with the Mega Jul while belaying the leader requires a similar motion to other tube devices. However, its assisted braking orientation requires you to apply upward pressure on the green thumb loop (with the thumb of the hand holding the brake strand) while feeding out slack. This upward pressure prevents the device from locking up. Additionally, if the lead climber hangs on the rope, then starts climbing again, simply pulling out on the green loop unlocks the brake strand.
The brake-assist mechanism can create more resistance while feeding slack than a basic tube, but if the belayer is using correct technique and pulling upwards on the green loop when feeding slack, the additional friction is minimal. Feeding slack with the Mega Jul is easier than most of the active ABDs we tested.
Weight and Bulk
At 2.5 ounces, the Mega Jul is the lightest of the assisted braking options and only 0.3 ounces heavier than the lightest auto-block belay device. 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, which actually helps with handling when removing the device from a gear loop. We found no practical difference between the size and bulk of the Mega Jul compared to other auto-block or "guide" style tube devices.
No other device on the market provides as much security as the Mega Jul in such a small and light package. This device can't be beaten for multi-pitch climbers on difficult routes and alpine climbers, where weight is a significant consideration. While good belayers can catch falls with non-assisted tube devices, if the belayer is compromised by being slammed into the wall or being hit by rock or icefall generated in the leader's fall, this device will generally catch the fall on its own. Once at the top of the climb, the Mega Jul acts as a tube device for rappelling and even eliminates the need for a prusik.
While the Mega Jul's accolades generally come from its assisted braking function for lead belaying, it also performs well as an auto-blocking "guide" style tube device when belaying one or two followers. We found that it effectively catches followers without slipping. As for friction when pulling slack through the device, the Mega Jul falls squarely in the middle of the pack, compared to other auto-blocking devices.
As with other auto-blocking devices, a thick round-stock carabiner allows the least amount of friction and the highest degree of comfort. Additionally, care must be taken to ensure the device is loaded and clipped correctly, as the Mega Jul uses a different rope orientation than other auto-blocking devices. While it isn't hard to master, this orientation is different and potentially confusing for newer users.
The Mega Jul is very affordable for a belay device with auto-block and assisted braking modes. This combination of functions makes this a great quiver-of-one device, whether you are using it for single pitch, multi-pitch, ice, or even gym climbing, where an assisted braking device is often required. We also believe the stainless steel construction improves its durability, further enhancing the value.
The Edelrid Mega Jul is a true jack of all trades and is our favorite belay device for hard multi-pitch routes and alpine climbs, or any route where weight is a consideration. It provides the functionality of both an active assisted braking device and an auto-blocking tube device in one light and compact unit. Furthermore, it accomplishes these functions at significant cost savings over purchasing both an active ABD and a tube device. This device deserves a spot in the quiver of all serious climbers and is also a great option for newer climbers looking for one device to do it all.
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