The Bottom Line
Self-braking belay device used for belaying both lead and seconding climbers. Also used for single-rope rappel descents.
- For use with ropes from 10 to 11mm in diameter
- Weight: 225 grams
- Colors: gray, burgundy, blue
- Price: $85.95
- For more information: Petzl
- Automatically locks under shock load, as when a climber falls.
- Excellent for sport climbing and indoor gym climbing.
- Easy to use with practice.
- Great for belaying someone heavier than you.
- Heavier and more expensive than other belay devices.
- Requires practice and attention to use safely.
- Must be threaded properly.
- Not as useful for multi-pitch routes or rappelling double ropes.
- Unsuitable for mountaineering, ice climbing, or beginners.
- Easy to thread and use, but belayers need practice for safety and competency.
- Ideal for climbing partners of differing weights.
- Gives a no-brainer safe belay, but can lull you into a false sense of security.
Guide Review - Petzl GriGri Belay Device
The GriGri, a clever device made by French climbing gear manufacturer Petzl, is the gold standard for self-braking belay devices. I bought my first one in 1993 at a gear shop in Paris and used it exclusively on that trip at Verdon Gorge and Buoux. I still own that original device, now scratched and dinged, and it works great. I still use it for sport climbing and for belaying climbers working on hard routes where they take lots of falls or need to be held while resting.
The GriGri is easy to thread by simply following a rope diagram etched on the device. Failure to follow the directions, however, can lead to the rope being loaded backwards and can cause an accident since the device will not self brake. Like any other belay device, the GriGri should always be used with an autolock carabiner to ensure the device doesn’t separate from the belayer’s harness or from the climber’s rope. For lots of great info and illustrations on using the GriGri correctly, go to the Petzl website.
The GriGri is used like a conventional belay device, with both hands, situated on either side of the device, either giving or taking slack in the rope by sliding it through. Falls are held by holding onto the free end of the rope with the brake hand and allowing the inside cam to grab the rope. For lowering and rappelling, the speed of your descent is controlled by a handle which when released feeds the free end of the rope through the device. The device is ideal for belaying someone heavier than you. I don't recommend it for beginners to use without supervision and practice, since it is possible to hold the release handle down in a panic rather than letting completely go of it.