Petzl GriGri+ Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Anti-panic handle, top rope and lead modes feed smoothly, wide range of rope diameters (8.5 - 11mm)
Cons: Expensive, switching modes can be annoying, panic handle locks up easily
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl GriGri+ is an active assisted braking belay device. It can be used for all climbing functions on a single rope, including lead belaying, top rope belaying, and single-strand rappelling. It has an anti-panic handle that locks the cam when it's pulled back too hard, adding an extra level of safety while lowering. It is one of most expensive belay devices in our review, but its outstanding performance should justify this high price for most users.
Be aware that while we will talk about how the device is used in this review for your benefit while making a purchasing decision, none of what we say should be construed as instruction. Check out this solid instructional video on how to belay with a GriGri. Or check out Petzl's instruction manual PDF for correct usage and limitations, found on this page.
After the GriGri 2 was ditched in favor of the newer GriGri, there are fewer differences than before between these two models. The anti-panic handle and the toggle switch between top-rope and lead modes are only present on the +. The + also has a stainless steel insert that runs over the lowering bar, enhancing the durability in a high-wear area. The + costs about 50% more and weighs about an ounce heavier.For users who are getting an assisted braking device for the first time or will be putting the device in the hands of inexperienced belayers, the GriGri+ is an excellent choice. By adding an anti-panic handle, Petzl has fixed what many saw as a safety flaw in the GriGri. Its two usage modes improve user-friendliness, especially for top rope belaying.
The GriGri+ handles the widest rope diameter range of any assisted braking belay device that we tested. Its optimal range of rope diameters is 8.9 to 10.5 mm, with an acceptable range of 8.5 to 11 mm, covering virtually all single ropes on the market. Feeding slack can be tricky on ropes that are thicker than 10 mm and a bit too smooth on ropes thinner than 9.2 mm. The catch of the GriGri+ is relatively static and almost identical to that of the GriGri.
When a climber falls the device uses a spring loaded cam to pinch and grip the rope, much like other active assist belay devices. We didn't find it to be the absolute softest catch given by these devices, mostly because some others allow a little bit of rope to slip through before catching, similar to what happens on a regular tube style belay device. This didn't feel too significant while climbing (or falling) because rope stretch and attentive belaying provide a soft enough catch unless a short amount of rope is out.
Like the other active assisted braking devices in this review, the GriGri+ only works on a single strand, making it necessary to carry a separate device for double-strand rappels. The GriGri+ has an anti-panic handle that locks the cam when it is pulled too hard or to the back of its range. The anti-panic handle makes the GriGri+ a much better device than the GriGri for inexperienced belayers, however, it does not lower as smoothly because of it.
There are other devices that also have anti-panic handles, but they are heavier and can't accommodate as wide a range of rope diameters as the GriGri+. The + has the widest sweet spot for lowering compared to others with similar features, though we did still have some issues with it locking up unintentionally. Regardless of device, stiff and large ropes tend to be problematic for rappelling, and the descent is nowhere near as smooth or enjoyable as you can find with a standard tube style rappel device.
The GriGri+ had the smoothest lowering action of any device that features an anti-panic handle, and it addresses what many people saw as a significant safety concern with the GriGri, which has no safety mechanism to lock the cam if the belayer loses control or pulls too hard on the handle while lowering. However, these mechanisms seem to always interfere with lowering to a certain extent. We believe the added safety of the anti-panic handle is probably worth the hassle of it locking up now and then for most climbers, and that is why the GriGri+ is our number one recommendation. Experienced climbers who have used the GriGri safely for years might not appreciate the update, and lucky for them the original remains in production.
The GriGri+ stands out in the realm of feeding slack because of its two usage modes for top rope and lead belaying. These are controlled with a locking dial that adjusts the resistance of the device's cam. The cam is very sensitive in top rope mode and feels nearly one-directional, where rope can only be taken in from the climbing strand. The cam is less sensitive in lead mode, allowing slack to be payed out with ease, yet it still engages from the higher forces of lead falls.
In its lead mode, the GriGri+ was very comparable to the GriGri when it came to feeding slack. It is among smoothest assisted braking devices for paying out rope because of its wide range of acceptable rope diameters. Feeding slack is very difficult if you try to lead belay while the device is in top rope mode, which makes it necessary to double check that it is set to the correct mode before belaying.
Unfortunately, this is an easy step to miss when switching back and forth at the crag. It is also challenging to get the dial to turn. You have to insert something sharp into the dial to release it, and unless you climb with your keys in your pocket, you might not always have something on hand that can help you make the switch.
The GriGri+ still has a learning curve for feeding slack and developing muscle memory for this requires practice. Tube-style belay devices are much simpler in this respect, and that is why they scored higher for this category.
The GriGri+ weighs 7.1 ounces, only one ounce more than the GriGri. It is almost exactly the same size and shape. For most users, the benefit of the added features in this model easily justifies the extra ounce.
The GriGri+ is lighter and less bulky than most of the other active assist braking devices, which can be surprisingly heavy. Passive assisted braking devices are lighter but don't offer the performance advantages of the GriGri+.
Auto block (resistance belaying a second)
The GriGri+ adds minimal resistance when belaying a follower directly off an anchor from above and feels about the same as the GriGri. This is a substantial step up from auto-block tube-style devices, which have a lot more friction built into their system. For long multi-pitch routes, you'll save a lot of energy by belaying off the anchor with a GriGri+.
The GriGri+ is one of the most expensive belay devices in our review. It costs quite a bit more than the GriGri, but should last longer thanks to the stainless steel components. If it has the features you are looking for, then we think it presents a good value.
Petzl has been a step ahead of competitors in assisted braking belay devices since the first GriGri was released in 1991. With the GriGri+, they continue to deliver a belay device that is easy to use, functional, and safer than any other assisted braking belay device on the market. Between its anti-panic handle, two belay modes, and universally familiar design, the GriGri+ is an especially appealing option for those who are new to assisted braking belay devices or want to maximize safety without compromising on performance.
— Andy Wellman & Steven Tata