ProView – Edelrid Giga Jul
I used the Giga Jul over the last two months while guiding six days a week: from climbing to canyoneering, single pitch, multi-pitch and hundreds of meters of rappelling; this device hung on my harness and proved itself versatile and robust.
Edelrid Giga Jul
Product Description: The most versatile ever belay device. The Giga Jul is a standard and assisted braking tuber in one. The assisted braking function which supports the braking force can be activated or disabled by an intelligent mechanism. For situation-dependent belaying and abseiling, especially in alpine terrain.
Offer price: MSRP: $49.95
Ease of Use
There are not many pieces of climbing hardware that end up replacing multiple pieces of your rack. In today’s world, companies are focusing on honing the product’s functionality for a singular purpose. Edelrid, however, has been innovating in the other direction. Meet the Giga Jul: the newest member of its line of robust assisted braking tube devices – a device that could truly take the place of all your other belay devices.
- Steel wear points mean sustainability and durability
- Slide mechanism means you get to choose between an assisted device and a standard tube device
- A singular device that can belay, rappel, brake assist, belay from the top, and utilize double ropes
- A lighter option for a brake assist belay device – much lighter than a Gri Gri (170-200g) or a Vergo (195g)
- Heavier weight than a tube device that accommodates two ropes and guide mode
- Steep learning curve which newer climbers might find daunting. Change is always tough! It will be worth it in the end.
So, what exactly is a brake assisted tube belay device? It is a standard tube device with the added function that assists the belayer by pinching on the brake strand rope while under tension; this gives the belayer added assistance to hold the climber and give the climber the added security that they will not be dropped. These devices have become increasingly popular over the years. Edelrid has been leading the front with constant additions to their line (Jul2, Micro Jul, Mega Jul, and Giga Jul). It is also worth noting that Edelrid focuses on sustainability as a core value of their business. This leads them to use steel wherever possible to help prolong the life of both your hardware and ropes. Pair this with a Bruce Steel locker and you should get 5+ years out of this duo. Make sure to use a broad HMS belay carabiner (like the Bruce or HMS Strike Slider) as this gives the Giga Jul the ample width of the basket to do its locking function. If the carabiner rotates so the narrow end is at the device, it might not lock as designed (an HMS carabiner with a keeper bar is recommended by Edelrid).
When you first pick up the Giga Jul off the rack you will notice its weight right away. One demerit to Edelrid for nearly doubling the weight from the Mega Jul (120g vs 65g, respectively). It is also very large in size compared to the Mega Jul. This will stand out for those of you that are Mega Jul users. The size does come with a reason: due to the slide mechanism and how it operates the device is a tad bit longer as the slide effectively blocks out a portion of the device. It is worth noting that the Giga Jul has roughly the same footprint but is still heavier than a Black Diamond ATC Guide (73-88g) or Petzl Reverso (57-59g). If weight is a concern for you, then so should functionality and versatility. The Giga Jul gives the user more functionality than any tube-style belay device or any assisted belay device due to the assisted locking function.
The slide mechanism is the innovative piece of the Giga Jul and is the sole reason why this will replace all your other devices and why those of you who did not love the Mega Jul at first use will consider coming back to the Jul Family. Traditionally, with an assisted tube device, there is no way to keep the device from assisting. This typically means that lowering and rappelling can vary from difficult to nearly impossible. This is one of the main reasons people do not like the Mega Jul as it can be quite finicky to release rope. With the Giga Jul, you are able to choose whether you want a standard tube device or an assisted tube device. Thanks to the sliding bar in the Giga Jul you have two devices in one.
I was very excited to try this device as I have been a fan and proponent of the Mega Jul since it was released in 2015. As it turns out, I used the Giga Jul with the assisted locking function turned off for the majority of my 2-month heavy use period. However, when I entered a situation where that added locking function would be beneficial, I just had to slide the bar to the other end, flip the device 180 degrees and I had that added benefit. Situations like single line rappels; using 7.1mm half ropes; holding hang dogging top ropers were all situations where I was happy to have the assistive function but would not have been happy (or just couldn’t use, in the case of half ropes) to bring along another locking device (like the Gri Gri or Eddy).
The Giga Jul has a guide mode for belaying up a second/third. I felt that the friction was the same as just about any other guide mode device. The big improvement is that it sets up the same way as any other guide mode device on the market whereas the Mega Jul and Micro Jul sets up a bit differently. This leaves a lot of room for error when you give an unfamiliar device to a climber in multi pitch terrain.
One fact of the Giga Jul that makes me ponder why they did what they did is the rope diameter range. It ranges from 7.1mm-10.0mm. Going down to 7.1mm is great because I no longer have to switch belay devices and use the Micro Jul when I use my 7.1mm half ropes however only going up to 10mm means that the handling of the ropes becomes increasing more difficult (especially in assisted mode) the closer you get to 10mm. Paying out the rope, taking in slack, belaying up a second, even rappelling as a smaller weight climber becomes more challenging. This device, though, might give confidence to the climber who has been looking at a sub 9.5mm diameter single rope but was worried about its handling in a standard tube device.
The Final Word
Don’t be fooled, this device is nothing but “normal”. The learning curve is steep and, in my experience, many first-time users are quick to call the device difficult. Take the proper time to read the manual and to practice. If you do, you will be rewarded with a device that is as versatile as they come. Climbing has long been about doing more with less. Stop bringing four belay devices to the crag – find one that can do it all and master it.
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About the Gear Tester
Patrick Betts is the Technical Director at Front Range Climbing Company and is based in Moab, Utah. He has been in the Outdoor Industry since 2009 and guides year-round in Colorado, Utah, and beyond. When he is not guiding, you will find him traveling to climbing destinations around the world. Patrick is an experienced adventure photographer who enjoys taking photos of people pushing their own limits and capturing the landscapes of the areas that rock climbing takes you. Follow along @adventurethrulens