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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl GriGri 2 Review
Cons: Heavy-ish, expensive, single strand only
Bottom line: A long standing popular choice that continues to set the standard for assisted braking belay devices.
Formerly our Editors' Choice award winner, the Petzl GriGri 2 is still a top performing assisted braking device and the most popular belay device of this kind. It has a smooth assisted locking mechanism and is universally recognizable. The GriGri+ took its spot as our Editors' Choice award winner because it accommodates a wider range of ropes and has additional features such as different belay modes, an upgraded design, and an anti-panic handle. For those who are on a budget or prefer a simpler assisted braking belay device, the GriGri 2 is still the best choice, offering excellent performance from catching falls to lowering partners, feeding slack, and multi-pitch belays. With a list price of $100 it won our Best Buy award and is $50 cheaper than the GriGri+.
Shoppers discouraged by the $100 pricetag can consider the Best Buy winning, Black Diamond ATC Guide or other affordable options in The Best Belay Device Review.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Climbing Belay Device
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Gri Gri 2 is the most popular assisted braking belay device.
Petzl lists the GriGri 2's acceptable rope range from 8.9 to 11.0 mm and ideal between 9.4 and 10.3 mm. In our experience the best size is towards the lower end of this, about 9.2 to 9.6 mm. Within these diameters the GriGri 2 still provides a strong, reliable catch but lowering and feeding slack is also easier. Like all the assisted locking devices, it can independently support the weight of a climber resting on the rope. This feature is the primary reason to get one of these devices and will save you a lot of hand strength when belaying a hang-dogging partner. The GriGri 2 was bested in the catch/bite category by only the Camp Matik because that assisted locking device has a gradual camming action that lowers impact forces—the GriGri 2's cam produces a static catch. You can still provide a soft catch though with attentive belaying and by easing yourself off the ground as you receive the force of a fall.
The GriGri 2 is a single strand device, so for two strand rappels you'll need a separate device. To lower or rappel pull a lever on the left side of the device towards your body. We preferred the wide range and smoothness of the GriGri 2's lowering action compared to the other assisted locking models. Although it doesn't include an anti-panic mechanism like the GriGri+, Edelrid Eddy or Camp Matik, it works well in high friction situations where those anti-panic features can become an annoyance.
Feeding slack to a leader is smoother and easier with the GriGri 2 than with the other assisted braking options. There's less resistance through the device than with the Camp Matik and a low chance of a short roping tug of war. The GriGri+ offers almost identical performance when set to lead mode. Compared to the basic tube-style devices though, the GriGri 2 takes more skill and it's good to first learn how to belay with one of those models.
Proper belay technique is required with the GriGri 2 or any other belay device. One study reported observing a quarter of GriGri users feeding slack incorrectly—taking their brake hand off the rope when paying out rope. Climbers have been dropped and injuries resulted due to this mistake. Please watch the Petzl video at the bottom of this page that demonstrates the proper 'thumb up' technique.
Auto-block (resistance belaying a second)
The GriGri 2 provides the least resistance while belaying a follower directly off an anchor. Each exhibited the lowest friction for one of the two different ropes we tested (9.0 or 10.1 mm). Both gave less than a sixth the resistance of the popular Black Diamond ATC Guide and Petzl Reverso that are advertised for their auto-block prowess. On a long multi-pitch route this difference could save you tons of energy and reduce the chance of overuse injuries to your elbows or shoulders.
At 6.1 ounces, the GriGri 2 is the lightest mechanical assisted braking device we tested. Although it is possible to get braking assistance with lighter passive models like the Edelrid Mega Jul or Mammut Smart Alpine, both of these devices come with their own drawbacks in smoothness and higher friction in auto-block mode.
The GriGri 2 is our second favorite all around assisted braking device behind the GriGri+. We think it's great for sport cragging, multi-pitch trad routes near your limit, or marathon belays on big wall aid climbs. The ubiquitousness of GriGris also makes it more likely your partner will know how to use yours when they forget or misplace their own device.
$99.95 is a lot to pay for a belay device, but we think the GriGri 2 and your life are worth it. For that money, you get a quality piece of gear that will likely withstand 4+ years of regular use. Although it's possible to save some dough with a passive assisted braking option, we think the superior performance of the GriGri 2 justifies the extra cost.
— Jack Cramer
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