Hands-on Gear Review

Petzl GriGri+ Review

Excellent assisted braking belay device for both beginners and experienced users.
Petzl GriGri+
By: Steven Tata ⋅ Senior Research Analyst  ⋅  Oct 4, 2017
Price:  $150 List  |  $100.00 at Amazon - 33% Off
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
Manufacturer:   Petzl
80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Catch and Bite - 30% 9
  • Lowering and Rappelling - 30% 8
  • Feeding Slack - 15% 7
  • Auto Block - 10% 9
  • Weight and Bulk - 10% 5
  • Durability - 5% 8
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  • 2
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  • 5
Editors' Choice Award

Our Verdict

The Petzl GriGri+ is the best active assisted braking belay device for most climbers and feels very familiar to anybody who has used a GriGri before. It offers several new features that many will see as improvements on the GriGri 2, including an anti-panic handle, top rope and lead modes, and compatibility with a wider range of rope diameters. These additional features are largely helpful to climbers with little experience using assisted braking belay devices. The anti-panic handle was our favorite upgrade because it adds an unparalleled level of safety when the device is in the hands of a belayer who is still learning how to belay properly.

Some of the updates might be frustrating to those who have been using the GriGri 2 for years though. The anti-panic handle can lock up if you try to lower too fast, and switching from lead to top rope modes is a challenge and easy to forget. Most experienced climbers who tried out the + during our testing period decided that they would not upgrade to it. The GriGri+ is also $150, which is $50 more than the 2 and $120 more than the Smart 2.0 from Mammut, which is a passive assisted braking device. However, the safety advantages of the GriGri+ is worth the extra money in our estimation, particularly if you are relatively new to the sport.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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. The GriGri+ has an anti-panic handle that locks the cam when it's pulled back too hard, adding an extra level of safety while lowering. At $150 MSRP, the GriGri+ is the second most expensive belay device in our review, and its outstanding performance justifies this high price.

Performance Comparison


Reviewer Steven Tata attentively belaying a lead climber with the GriGri+.
Reviewer Steven Tata attentively belaying a lead climber with the GriGri+.

Catch/Bite


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 2.


Both versions of the GriGri were bested by the Camp Matik in the catch/bite metric because the Matik offers a softer catch through more gradual camming. 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.

Catching falls with this model felt much like its predecessor.
Catching falls with this model felt much like its predecessor.

Lowering/Rappelling


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 2 for inexperienced belayers, however, it does not lower as smoothly as the 2 because of it.


The Camp Matik and Edelrid Eddy also have anti-panic handles, but both of these devices are heavier and can't accommodate as wide a range of rope diameters as the GriGri+. The + had the widest sweet spot for lowering compared to those two devices, 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 GriGri+ was beat by the Edelrid Eddy in this area.

Lowering a climber safely and smoothly to the ground with the anti-panic handle of the GriGri+. If you pull back too far or too quickly the device will stop lowering. It takes some practice to dial in the sweet spot for the devices with anti-panic handles.
Lowering a climber safely and smoothly to the ground with the anti-panic handle of the GriGri+. If you pull back too far or too quickly the device will stop lowering. It takes some practice to dial in the sweet spot for the devices with anti-panic handles.

Anti-Panic Handle Advantages and Disadvantages
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 2, 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 2 safely for years might not appreciate the update, and lucky for them it remains in production.

Feeding Slack


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 2 when it came to feeding slack. It was smoothest assisted braking device 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.

Lead mode is on the left  and top rope mode is on the right.
Lead mode is on the left, and top rope mode is on the right.

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.

To switch modes  first unlock the dial with a thin  stiff object. Throughout testing  we used keys  sticks  nut tools  pens  and more to unlock the key.
After unlocking the dial  turn it to the appropriate mode.
Lock the dial in place again once in the correct mode.

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.

Auto block (resistance belaying a second)


The GriGri+ added minimal resistance when belaying a follower directly off an anchor from above and felt about the same as the GriGri 2. This is a substantial step up from auto-block tube-style devices such as the Black Diamond ATC Guide and Petzl Reverso. For long multi-pitch routes, you'll save a lot of energy by belaying off the anchor with a GriGri+.


Weight/Bulk


The GriGri+ weighs 7.1 ounces, only one ounce more than the GriGri 2. It is almost exactly the same size and shape. The benefit of the added features in this model easily justifies the extra ounce.


The GriGri+ is lighter and less bulky than the Edelrid Eddy (13 ounces) and Camp Matik (9.7 ounces). Passive assisted braking devices are lighter but don't offer the performance advantages of the GriGri+. If you like to use an active braking device on multi-pitch climbs but are looking for something smaller, consider the Mad Rock Lifeguard. The Lifeguard is like a pocket-size GriGri, though it doesn't weigh that much less (5.4 ounces). It is certainly less bulky though and won't take up as much space on your harness.

The GriGri+ is compact like its predecessor.
The GriGri+ is compact like its predecessor.

Durability


With proper care and cleaning the GriGri+ will be on your gear sling for many years. It felt materially more robust than the GriGri 2, especially its thicker aluminum side plate and stainless steel wear plate. The GriGri 2's side plate is made entirely from stamped aluminum, and the rope runs over a section of bent aluminum. This surface was replaced with stainless steel in the GriGri+, which improves durability and lessens the likelihood of grooves forming over time.


The Edelrid Eddy and Camp Matik also have stainless steel rope-bearing surfaces and feel more durable than the GriGri+ because of their heavier components. The additional weight and bulk of these devices make the GriGri+ a more appealing option for long routes.

The GriGri 2 is on the left and the GriGri+ is on the right. Notice the additional steel wear plate on the GriGri+.
The bent aluminum section of the GriGri 2 (left) is replaced with a wear plate of stainless steel in the GriGri+ (right).

Best Applications


The GriGri+ is the best active assisted braking belay device for a wide range of users. If you are new to using assisted braking devices, its anti-panic handle is forgiving and adds an additional layer of safety while belaying (though there is no substitute for proper instruction and prudent use). For guides and climbing gyms, it shines in any application where clients are responsible for belaying. Veteran belayers are not immune to mistakes or unattentive belays, either, and might benefit from the additional safety features and durability of this model.

Value


At $150 the GriGri+ is the second most expensive belay device in our review, led only by the Camp Matik, which lists for $200. It is $50 more than the GriGri 2, but should last longer thanks to the stainless steel components.

The useful features added to a proven design are what made the GriGri+ stand out as the top-performing belay device.
The useful features added to a proven design are what made the GriGri+ stand out as the top-performing belay device.

Conclusion


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.

GriGri 2 vs. GriGri+


For those deciding between the GriGri+ and GriGri 2, it is worth considering where the device will see use. If you're already familiar with the original GriGri or GriGri 2, then it probably won't feel like much of an upgrade regarding safety. The main appeals of the GriGri+ to those who already know how to use a GriGri are its wider range of rope diameters and more robust construction. Experienced belayers have been involved in lowering accidents from incorrect use of the GriGri 2. The anti-panic feature of the GriGri+ mitigates this risk.

The GriGri 2 (left) is still an awesome device  especially for experienced belayers who are familiar handling the device. It's hard to argue  though  with the added safety features of the GriGri+ (right).
The GriGri 2 (left) is still an awesome device, especially for experienced belayers who are familiar handling the device. It's hard to argue, though, with the added safety features of the GriGri+ (right).

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 2. Its two usage modes improve user-friendliness, especially for top rope belaying.

Steven Tata

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