The Petzl GriGri 2 has long been one of the most popular assisted braking devices on the market, and for good reason! Time will tell if the GriGri+ takes over popularity-wise, and we liked the two of them almost equally but for different reasons.
The tried and true GriGri 2 remains a high-performing (and popular) 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 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 like the Petzl Verso or Reverso. To lower or rappel pull the 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. It also lowered smoother than the Mad Rock Lifeguard.
Feeding slack to a leader is smoother and easier with the GriGri 2 than with the most of 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.
When you need to feed slack quickly you can depress the cam with your brake thumb and pull out slack with your guide hand, all while maintaining control of the rope with your brake hand. Unfortunately this device is a right-hand dominant one.
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.
It's possible to belay a follower off your harness or off the anchor with the GriGri 2.
At 6.1 ounces, the GriGri 2 is the second lightest mechanical assisted braking device we tested. The Mad Rock Lifeguard is only 5.4 ounces but more compact than the GriGri 2.
Those looking to save on weight and bulk in their cragging packs should also consider some passive assisted braking devices like the Mammut Smart 2.0 (2.7 ounces) and the Black Diamond ATC Pilot (3.2 ounces). The single-strand devices don't have any moving parts and offer almost (but not quite) the same catch and lock-off power at a fraction of the cost.
For most users the GriGri 2's durability will not be an issue. If you keep your rope and device clean, it should last several years. Dedicated climbers in areas with especially abrasive grit (Owens River Gorge anyone?) may experience accelerated wear on the aluminum parts.
One spot we've seen wear out first is the rounded surface on the top of the colored side plate. The rope curls over this surface while lowering/rappelling and friction can grind a groove into it over time. Grooves like this seem to be less a problem with the Camp Matik or Edelrid Eddy because their friction surfaces are more durable stainless steel, and it should also be minimized in the new GriGri+.
Deep grooves have formed after eight years of use. The new GriGri+ should last longer thanks to a stainless steel insert in the main wear sport.
The GriGri 2 is still one of our favorite all-around assisted braking devices. 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.
The GriGri 2 is a top-notch belay device for a multitude of uses. Once you get used to it, you may refuse to be belayed with any other device! Whether for cragging or even on a multi-pitch, the GriGri 2 remains one of our favorite devices.
$99.95 is a lot to pay for a belay device, but we think the GriGri 2 is worth it. The GriGri 2 is 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. Those looking for a little more durability and a lot more safety might not mind the $150 price tag of the GriGri+.
Despite the high price tag, GriGris are one of the most popular belay devices in the world. The reasons are many and varied. Its assisted locking mechanism saves you hand strength and, with proper technique, can improve your safety margin. Furthermore, when compared to most other assisted locking models, the GriGri 2 is lighter, smoother, and competitively priced. You can check out our review of the GriGri+ for a more in-depth comparison between the two options.