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Staff Review: The Petzl GriGri 2

IMPORTANT: GriGri 2 belay devices with certain serial numbers have been recalled by Petzl. If you already own a GriGri 2 please click this link to check if your belay device is defective. Petzl will replace defective devices for free. If you do not own a GriGri 2 yet, don’t worry. Problematic ones have been removed from the shelves so feel free to buy one.

The Brooklyn Boulders retail store recently started carrying the long-awaited update to the GriGri autolocking belay device. We thought it would be a good idea to have the employees weigh in on the new gear, so here is a staff review of the all new GriGri 2.

Xander: Retail store employee
Mark: Routesetter
JB: Routesetter
Ben: Technical Director of Routesetting
Cameron: Employee

The Review

Xander: I’ll start out with a little breakdown of the technical aspects of the GriGri2. It has been almost 20 years since Petzl released the original GriGri. In the ensuing two decades the device has proven to be so successful that its name has become synonymous with all auto-locking belay devices. Now Petzl has released its long awaited redesign, which brings the GriGri up to date with the modern trend towards smaller, skinnier, and lighter climbing gear.

When the original GriGri was released single dynamic ropes commonly sported diameters of 10.5mm to 11mm. Twenty years later you would be hard pressed to find a rope of such thickness used outside of the gym, with the standard for lightweight ropes consistently getting skinnier: from sub 10mm, to sub 9.5mm, to sub 9mm. Petzl’s redesign brings the GriGri into the modern world, accepting any rope between 8.9 and 11mm (though Petzl recommends 9.4-10.3mm for optimal use). And while the GriGri 2 is still heavier than a traditional friction device, it is significantly lighter (20%) and smaller (25%) than the original.

Favorite Features

Mark: It’s smaller, more ergonomic in hand for loading and unloading. The rope action is smoother while jumaring.

JB: I like that it’s smaller, but overall, I like the original better, but that’s probably because I use it for setting far more often than I use it outside.

Xander: Anyone who has tried to feed a skinny rope through an old style GriGri knows how frustrating it can be to get modern cords through twenty year old technology. I really like the improved functionality with a wide range of rope thicknesses.

Ben: For lead belaying, the new design finally makes Petzl’s officially mandated belay technique possible and practical. I can lead belay smoothly while keeping my brake hand on the rope, which really matters.

Cameron: 100% with you on the lead belaying. A big improvement on the original. Not having to constantly switch to squeezing the cam when you want to give out slack is a welcome change.

Click the pictures to view larger images.

Lowering Action

Mark: The lowering action on the GriGri 2 is smoother but less controllable…

JB: I feel like it has more friction because the internal rope-track is tighter with a sharper bend. It basically lacks the gradual release of the brake that the original has. It goes from locked to open without any in-between, putting more pressure on your brake hand to control the lower.

Cameron: I agree. I’ve found that on top rope belays or short lead climbs with only a few clips the faster action makes lowering hard to control. It’s difficult to find the sweet spot when you’re letting your climber down, so it can get jerky and uneven. However, on long lead climbs with more rope drag the lowering becomes about the same as the original GriGri.

Mark: Yeah, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot smoother for lowering a climber on toprope or off the top of a lead climb…

JB: But if you’re using it to rappel on a single rope it actually isn’t as smooth as the old GriGri. This might be attributable to the smaller size and redesigned brake-release lever and also may ease up slightly on newer, more supple ropes.

Lead Climbing

Mark: I give it two thumbs up for lead belaying. It’s super smooth for paying out slack to the lead climber.

JB: Yup, it’s definitely a step up from the original for leading.

Ben: Agreed, I prefer almost any other belay device for lead belaying to the original GriGri. I understood what Petzl wanted me to do in order to pay out slack and still keep my brake hand on the rope, but it just didn’t work that way in practice. The only way to pay out slack smoothly with the original GriGri was to hold the brake open with the thumb of one hand and pull out the slack with the other, relying entirely on your reflexes and the GriGri’s camming action to catch a fall, very dubious but also widely practiced. Thankfully the new design of the GriGri 2 makes it easy to belay correctly without sacrificing smoothness or safety.

Xander: True, the GriGri 2 actually feeds much easier than its ancestor, especially when using a rope in the recommended range. It is no longer necessary to release the auto-locking cleat while paying out standard amounts of slack on lead (though it is still necessary when pulling out large amounts of slack rapidly), and it is fair to say belaying with the GriGri 2 feels far more like belaying on an ATC than its predecessor does.

The Bottom Line

Routesetters: Though the GriGri 2 is smaller, lighter and performs many of its intended functions technically better than the original, we feel that overall it’s just a little less personable (JB: Friendly!) than its bigger, slightly clunkier predecessor. Really, this might come down to familiarity for all of us. We all agree that given the choice between an original or a 2, we’ll always grab the GriGri 2 from now on when heading out to the cliffs. We’re psyched to get to know it better.

Cameron: It’s at least as good as the original. If you have a GriGri already you might not need to rush out and get the update, but if you’re going for your first belay device or first autolocker then the GriGri 2 is the way to go.

Xander: If you’re already a GriGri user then the GG2 will come as a much needed update your beloved device. If you’re still a hold out on auto-lockers, the GriGri 2 may be cause for you to reconsider your stance.

JB approves.

Here is a little video from Petzl that details the changes made to the device, as well as a demo of lead belaying with it. (This video is not intended as belay training. If you have never lead belayed on a GriGri please seek qualified instruction on how to do so.)

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