CGR takes a look at the top end belay device from German company Edelrid
Our most versatile belay and abseil device made of solid stainless steel for durability.
Ease of use ***
Value for money ***
We’ve reviewed several belay devices here at CGR; just like your rope you’ll use one every time you go climbing and just like your rope they take a hammering. Probably more so, as they get scratched, banged (even dropped from heights – I’ve seen one dropped from the top of Idwal Slabs and off The Ben; always an anxiety inducing episode!) It stands to reason, then, that they have to be durable.
Most belay devices are made from Aluminium, even my old Sticht Plate in the loft is made from aluminium. The reasons for this are weight and heat dissipation (when abseiling and lowering). The Edelrid Mega Jul, however, is made from stainless steel. Now stainless steel seems to making a comeback lately, I have a pair of stainless steel crampons and love them. The Mega Jul is a marvel of German engineering, very thin and elegant in design. At first glance it looks alarmingly thin for a belay device, we’re used to big and chunky. It is very solid in feel and is the green, injection moulded, thumb loop as an extra durable feel to it. This has the feel of a piece of equipment that will outlast you.
The sidewall are thinner than the top and bottom walls – this makes sense as that is where the ropes runs through and you can often see the wear marks on aluminium belay devices. There is the hard plastic thumb loop and the retaining wire loop, which also has a plastic sheath. It is very light at 63g, but not as light as some of the newer aluminium belay devices.
The Edelrid Mega Jul is a ‘guide plate’ type of belay device. That is: it can be used for locking off your second with two screwgates. The top ring is well situated and you need to be careful to read the instructions on the side of the Jul in order to get it right. In fact I would say that the Mega Jul is more of an ‘expert’ belay device than one for beginners as it needs to be used in two different positions. The green thumb ring needs to be at the bottom for normal belaying and at the top for using in guide mode.
The device worked well as soon as I got used to it, it took me a couple of minutes to be able to pay the rope out freely. The idea is you pull down on the thumb loop as you are paying out, this gave a nice action and I was able to pay out slack easily. The rope locked into the cut out section, this locked absolutely rock solid and was satisfying to have. It meant that I didn’t have to pull so hard on the ‘dead rope’ to keep the rope tight. A quick tug on the thumb rope released it when the leader was back on the rope.
In guide plate mode the Mega Jul was turned the other way with the green thumb loop at the top. The advantage of using the plate this way is the you are pulling the rope from the top of the plate and not from underneath as in other plate systems. If the plate locks because the second needs a breather or is getting out some fiddly gear then it can be released easily but tilting the green thumb loop back. If this proves more difficult a carabiner loop is provided at the bottom, I never felt the need to use this as the thumb loop worked well. For abseiling the Mega Jul needed to be in a different position again with the thumb loop at the top and the retainer loop facing you. This then provided a smooth abseil ride. It’s for the confusing way it works I would not recommend this as your first Guide Plate, you may want to try the Kilo Jul instead. But if you are doing a lot of Alpine and other multi pitch climbing or you are a professional guide then the Edelrid Mega Jul works very well and will save you a lot of hassle. It does take about one climbing session to get to know how it works but if you use it regularly, it’s a masterpiece of design and engineering.