Super versatile for all types of climbing. Is the Edelrid Giga Jul the ultimate belay device?
A couple of years back on a short holiday to The Terradets in Spain, we decided to climb the brilliant Smoking – a old school multi pitch wall climb. The route was as awesome as I expected it to be and as it was well within grade (although it was tricky in parts) I decided to see how my Petzl GriGri would perform in a multi pitch environment. What a mistake that was! You walk off the route so I knew we wouldn’t have to abseil unless there was an emergency and then I could have improvised with a lower, so a single rope was perfect – so why not use a GriGri? The issue was bringing up the second. Clipping the GriGri direct to the belay was way more faff that using a guide plate – in the end I gave up and used an Italian hitch. My mate wasn’t pleased as his rope developed some gnarly kinks in the last few pitches.
So, in my opinion a guide plate is best in these environments. The Edelrid Giga Jul addresses these problems very well as it can be used as an assisted braking device as well as a guide plate, and abseil on it too.
We have reviewed several Jul’s from the super light Micro Jul to the Jul2 and we’ve found them functional and well made. It does take a bit of getting used to with but Edelrid have provided a great microsite that shows you all you need to know with some good instructional videos. In the field, however, I have made some mistakes with the slider and have found myself looking at the Giga Jul and wondering if I’m using it the right way round! After a few weeks of solid use though I have got used to it and haven’t made any mistakes – as long as I’m wearing my glasses (although that an age related and not a design issue)!
Stylistically it looks more like a ‘normal’ guide plate belay device. As with all Edelrid products – it is superbly engineered and definitely looks like it would a be great micro machine in a new Transformers movie. Made from a mixture of aluminium for the main body and high grade Stainless Steel in the areas of high wear – similar to what they have been doing with the Bulletproof carabiner range. Piece of mind comes with full EN 15151-2 certification, which is the highest safety award for belay devices and in a world full of fakes for sale is reassuring.
The slider mechanism does work smoothly but I haven’t tested it in full UK winter conditions where slots can easily get iced up. But I reckon I would put it in Manual mode and leave it like that as it would make life more simple. In all spring and summer testing it has worked flawlessly – again I will keep an eye on whether the slider has problems with dissimilar metals corroding when exposed to sea water conditions. The slider would also benefit from having colour coded on the slider – you do have A and M arrows on the plastic insert but they are an engrave.
The stated rope diameters that the Giga Jul uses are from 7.1 – 10mm – I’ve used it with my Edelrid Apus 7.9mm and my Edelrid Boa 9.8mm ropes and they have worked great (in case you are wondering about my over use on Edelrid ropes, they are one of the few rope manufacturers that have a blue sign certification on ropes – always a factor in purchasing choices). I have used it with my 10.5mm indoor rope and it was very bitty – I swapped back to a GriGri for this as my wall rope is 10.5mm and quite old so I wan’t surprised this wouldn’t work efficiently.
For this engineering brilliance you do pay a price in weight my DMM Pivot weighs 72g and the Giga Jul weighs 124g (both weighed on the trusty CGR scales) so you’ll need to ask yourself – is having the assisted brake facility worth 52g of extra weight on your rack? For some people this may well be a deal breaker. For me the answer is, yes it is. I like having the flexibility to be able to hold a fall with thinner ropes as well as use the guide function on multi pitch routes. More of a deal breaker will be the price – the Giga Jul is twice as expensive as a DMM, Petzl or BD device but should last twice as long, if not longer.
Working with the Giga Jul in guide plate mode was excellent, the rope pulled through like a dream and locked solid when the second weighted the rope. I have a neat trick with guide plates that works really well with a flat sided HMS like the Edelrid Strike – if I need to lower a second a shot distance (to deal with a fiddly wire for instance) you can get the back bar of the screw gate against the back of the plate and work it up and down. This will slowly release the rope and worked a treat with the Giga Jul. You can also release rope more quickly by putting the nose of a carabiner in the teardrop opening which fitted all the screw gates I tried it with.
In conclusion, the Edelrid Giga Jul is an excellent belay device. It does take some practice to use it correctly and it’s definitely worth the time investment to do so. I like the flexibility and extra security it offers over standard guide plates and for bolted style multi pitch routes it is outstanding. It is heavy but I’m happy to trade that for the flexibility it offers. I’d say it is more suited to those climbers with some experience and for mountain professionals it is great addition to the toolbox. Is it worth the extra price and weight over say, a Petzl Reverso – I’d say yes and it’s certainly better than trying to use a GriGri in guide mode! It’s by far the best of the Jul belay devices I’ve tested here on CGR.
SRP £60 The Edelrid Giga Jul is available from specialist retailers.
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising or link to affiliate sales. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene and safety reasons and more often it’s in no fit state to return!