While climbers spend a lot of time researching the right climbing shoes, we often spend very little time selecting the right belay device. This device is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your climbing system. Not only does it connect you and your partner to the same rope system, it also allows you to manage slack, arrest your climber’s fall, and control the climber’s descent.
That being said, not all belay devices have the same functionality.
Certain devices on the market provide additional features that assist the belayer when managing the climber’s rope. Petzl revolutionized the sport in 1991 when it introduced the GriGri – the company’s first assisted braking belay device. Twenty six years later, Petzl has overhauled the GriGri’s design and functionality to address the evolving needs of the climbing community.
I recently had the opportunity to take Petzl’s new GriGri Plus with me on my trip to Wild Iris, Wyoming. I used the device for a few days and found that my experience as a belayer improved significantly.
The GriGri Plus features:
- Improved lowering capabilities that help the belayer regulate the speed of the climber’s descent. Further, the device has a more favorable mechanical advantage which makes pulling on the descent handle effortless.
- An anti-panic braking system which automatically engages if the belayer pulls too forcefully on the descent handle. This feature prevents the belayer from lowering the climber too quickly and potentially losing control of the climber’s descent.
- Compatibility with a wider range of rope diameters (8.5 mm to 11 mm) which facilitates smoother handling when lead belaying. With the right technique, belaying with this device is no different than belaying with an ATC or other slotted belay device.
- A stainless steel wear plate provides a more durable surface for the brake rope to pass over when lowering the climber. This means your GriGri Plus will last longer than its predecessors (the GriGri and GriGri 2).
As a seasoned climber, I appreciate these enhancements to the GriGri’s design because I take my responsibility as a belayer seriously. I am always open to adopting new belay techniques or using the most advanced tools available if it will improve my ability to belay my climbing partner.
While no mechanical improvements will ever replace proper belay technique, when used correctly, these new features do provide an additional layer of protection in your climbing system. Priced at $149.95, this latest iteration of the GriGri is a must have for any sport climber.
If you are interested in learning more about this device, including additional features that were not covered in this review, stop by the Pro Shop and ask a Climb So iLL Team Member.