Hands-on Gear Review

Kong GiGi Review

A Kong GiGi
By: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 18, 2009
Price:  $14 List  |  $13.00 at Amazon - 7% Off
Pros:  Cheap, light, smoothest auto blocking belay device out there
Cons:  Can't belay a leader, not much friction for rappelling
Manufacturer:   Kong (Distributed by Liberty Mountain)
30
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lowering - 25% 3
  • Sport/gym belay - 30% 0
  • Rappel 2 Ropes - 15% 5
  • Lock off - 15% 0
  • belaying the second - 15% 10
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Our Verdict

No, this isn't a GriGri. The Kong GiGi was the first auto blocking belay device on the market (auto blocking means catching automatically when belaying directly off the anchor from above). Though it is used commonly among rock and alpine guides, it is much less popular with the general public. The GiGi has dramatic advantages and disadvantages compared with similarly designed auto blocking belay devices.

The GiGi is our favorite device for belaying fast climbers or two seconds simultaneously because of its incredibly smooth action. In the event of an emergency it is one of the easier devices from which to escape the auto block. And at 2.4oz it is one of the lightest. So why possibly haven't you heard of a GiGi? Well, it does have one huge factor going against it: it can't belay a leader.

The GiGi certainly isn't the most versatile and should not be a climber's only belay device. It is best at what it does: belay seconds.The lack of keeper loop means you must stay aware of it or risk losing it. If you're looking for an auto-block belay devices that has the advantage of belaying a leader, check out the Petzl Reverso 4 or the Black Diamond ATC Guide


Our Analysis and Test Results

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Likes


The Kong GiGi is by far the easiest auto blocking belay device to pull rope through. We had heard this claim by other guides before but couldn't believe that there could be such a big difference. But once we used it we were believers. We thought the GiGi was about 20 percent easier to pull rope through than a Petzl Reverso 3 and around 35 percent easier than a Black Diamond ATC Guide. The Kong GiGi is also one of easiest device to escape from while in auto blocking mode ("escape" refers to its ability to release or to lower a climber downward while in auto blocking mode). It has a large hole that easily facilitates the clipping of another carabiner or girth hitching a sling, which changes the orientation of the device to allow rope to pass through. The only device that is easier to escape from is the new Reverso 3 that lets you use a carabiner as a lever and release your "victim" with just your hand and not a redirect. Another benefit is that the GiGi allows one second to keep climbing even if the other has fallen. Kong accomplishes this by having a raised rib on one side causing the locker (that the rope is bending through) to shift to one side to keep both ropes from locking as long as it isn't necessary for it to do so. You can do this with many other auto blocking devices but the GiGi is by far the easiest to use. Another plus is that at 2.4oz, the GiG is the lightest auto blocking device we tested.

Dislikes


The GiGi's biggest drawback is that it doesn't belay a leader. People who use it pass it back and forth as they re-rack their protection, but most people don't like to hand off their belay device. The GiGi has the least amount of friction of any belay device in the review. When rappelling with the GiGi, especially on skinny ropes, we had to clip two carabiners into the bottom for the rope to run around in order to gain enough friction to keep control of the descent speed. Rapping single strand with a single locker is a bit of a fight, for lack of a better word. Another big drawback is that there is no keeper loop. It does have an extra hole in the top that you can clip to, but this isn't as habitual or as secure as with many other devices.

Best Application


This is best used by climbers who belay a lot from above. If you climb with Chris McNamara or other really fast climbers you will certainly notice a big difference with other auto blocking devices you must frantically pull in yards of slack. This becomes exponential in parties of three when belaying two seconds simultaneously. For rock and alpine guides it avoids the tendinitis associated with pulling ropes through auto block devices. The raised rib in the center of one side allows one person to hang while the other climbs, a useful feature for any climber and especially for trip leaders and guides. This belay device will serve any person well who climbs many multi-pitch routes and is willing to pass it back and forth. If you take an AMGA course or an exam, this device is extremely useful as you desperately pull rope up as fast as you can, watching your fellow students, candidates and examiners blaze up the route.

Value


This is the cheapest auto blocking belay device on the market.

Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: March 24, 2011
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.3)

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

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   Mar 24, 2011 - 10:51pm
GrahamJ · Climber · In the rain

I absolutely love my GiGi - it works much better at it's intended application (bringing up seconds) than any of the multi-purpose devices like the ATC guide, b52, reverso etc… I'm always surprised I don't see more of them about.



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

Climber

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   Mar 24, 2011 - 09:05am
ExtraBlue · Climber · the ford VT
If you know what it is then you probably want one.

As everyone has said it is great but as to used in conjunction with an ATC or similar device. I prefer the feed of an ATC and GiGi to using my 2nd gen Reverso. Also a few years ago I had an incident where my second pulled off a good size chunk of rock and ended hanging and injured from the rope. I was belaying on the Reverso. I did not like that I lost my device when my second became immobilized mid route and started carrying the ATC GiGi combo so if needed I could leave the GiGi in the system and rap down to an injured second/belay a third etc. (Yes I know what a Munter is, but personally I like just having two devices both with good feed.)



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


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   Feb 10, 2010 - 04:34am
bonin_in_the_boneyard · Climber · Oak Land, California

The guy who taught me to climb used one of these, and I eventually found one for sale and snapped it up. I use it whenever I'm climbing with two partners. It's a rather bulky piece of single-use gear, but it's so easy to use that it ends up being a net energy saver. I've found that every other autoblocking device I've used wound up burning more energy than it saved due to friction; and god forbid one of your seconds wants to hang to clean gear while the other is in a painful crack.

Bottom line: it has limited application, but what it does it does best.



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

Climber

Dec 21, 2009 - 10:40am
 
Morgan · Climber · East Coast

I love my Kong Gi-Gi, for the reasons stated, but I mainly just use it for belaying the seconds. For a single rope a Gri Gri or Cinch is better to taking in the rope, but when you want to go lighter, a Gi-Gi is great.

Probably none of the self-locking belay plates and tubes (Kong, Petzl, Black Diamond) are as good belaying a single second as two seconds because the rope is never aligned directly under the anchor hole, it's always slightly off to one side or another.

I don't know if the Gi-Gi was the first device of its type. I was using the New Alp plaquette before I even knew there was a Gi-Gi.

http://www.grimpavranches.com/Les%20plaquettes%20d'assurage.htm

Probably there was a simpler version of the plaquette-style belay plate in the Italian Alps first, then the New Alp in the French Alps, and then the Kong Gi-Gi.

Here's a technical page showing the various applications of the Gi-Gi device.

http://www.kong.it/doc412.htm




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