Edelrid Mega Jul Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, small, great value, strong braking assistance
Cons: Terrible auto-block friction, rappelling/lowering can be hard on the shoulders
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Our Analysis and Test Results
A modified tube-style belay device, the Mega Jul is a passive assisted braking device. It is the precursor to the Edelrid Giga Jul, which outperforms it in nearly every way, except for price and weight. Most of the Mega Jul's flaws have been improved upon with the newer release, so that is the one we would sooner recommend.
The information we present in this review is intended to help you make a purchasing decision, and should not be construed as advice or instruction on how to use the device itself. Check out this video from Edelrid for instructions on using the device. Here is a link to the instruction manual, with pictures!
The Mega Jul is 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 carabiner 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 in our review. Compared to pretty much every other passive assist braking device, 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.
Depending on how you orient the Mega Jul it can operate as a standard or assisted locking device while 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 with the Mega Jul is a similar motion to any tube device. It's assisted braking ability, however, requires you to 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 some of the other passive assisted braking devices we tried, which require to hold the device at a certain angle using a lever arm.
At 2.5 ounces, the Mega Jul is lightest of the assisted braking options and only 0.3 oz 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, but how important is that really? Not much.
Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)
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.
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, so if you're mostly using those you might not notice the friction as much.
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.
We were initially impressed with the promise of the Edelrid Mega Jul. This is a light, compact belay device that offers assisted braking functions at a fraction of the price of the competition. Ultimately though, the performance of the passive braking assistance is a significant compromise from active assisted locking devices. 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. The newest member of the family is the Giga Jul, which we think is among the very best options for multi-pitch climbing, and corrects much of the friction-related issues of this device.
— Andy Wellman & Jack Cramer