The Petzl GriGri is one of the most used belay devices out there. Climbing gyms love the GriGri and both climbers and belayers feel safe when the GriGri is in play, be it at the crag or an indoor facility. Its safety features are simply unmatched.
But there are currently two devices on the market: the Petzl GriGri (2019) and the GriGri+, this article will help you decide between the two.
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What is the Petzl GriGri?View GriGri on Amazon
The Petzl GriGri is a cam-assisted belay device, essentially meaning that the GriGri will brake in the event a climber starts to fall. Obviously, this doesn’t mean the belayer should be careless with their brake hand, but it does mean that in the event the belayer screws up (through negligence or an unfortunate accident such as a rock falling on their head) that the GriGri will stop the rope from feeding.
This feature makes the GriGri a safer choice than non-assisted braking devices. The downside is that the GriGri is more expensive and heavier than other belay device devices on the market.
The Petzl GriGri that’s currently on the market is advertised simply as ‘GriGri’, in reality, it is the 2019 edition and not to be mistaken by its predecessors, the GriGri 2 and the original GriGri.
What is the Petzl GriGri+?View GriGri+ on Amazon
The Petzl GriGri+ has the same features as the original GriGri and two extra features added on top, hence the ‘+’ in its naming.
The first added feature is that the GriGri+ has an anti-panic function on the handle. Whenever a belayer lowers a climber too quickly, the GriGri will lock, stopping the lower. This feature is designed primarily with new belayers in mind to prevent them from lowering a climber too quickly.
A second feature is a switch that allows the belayer to switch between top-rope and lead belay. When the switch is set to top-rope, the cam will grip more tightly than it does when it’s switched to its lead mode. This makes it easier to feed out slack while lead belaying.
Which is best? GriGri vs GriGri+
On paper, the GriGri Plus seems like the obvious choice. It’s safer for new belayers and easier to pay slack as a lead belayer.
But in reality, it’s not that simple. You’ll see far more GriGri’s out in the wild than you will see GriGri+’s, here’s why.
The Anti-Panic handle that comes with the GriGri+ is really hard to master. It will lock when you feel it shouldn’t and when it does so frequently, you’ll start to get annoyed rather quickly.
The anti-panic mode is especially frustrating on gym ropes where it seems to lock frequently for no apparent reason. Furthermore, it’s a pain to use this belay device on lighter climbers as the device will keep locking itself thinking you are lowering them too quickly.
So while the GriGri+ is safer, it can be very frustrating if you are already used to the regular GriGri.
- Best price
- Lower weight
- Cam-assisted braking
- No switch for lead/belay
- No anti-panic system in the handle (good for experienced belayers)
- More expensive
- Heavier than standard GriGri
- Cam-assisted braking
- Switch for lead/belay
- Anti-panic system in the handle (good for new belayers)
The Petzl GriGri is widely considered one of the best belay devices out there as they are very beginner-friendly and have phenomenal safety measures thanks to their cam-assisted braking system. Undoubtedly, you cannot go wrong with getting a GriGri.
But as you are reading this article, you have most likely already decided you want one, and just want to know whether you should choose the GriGri or the GriGri Plus.
Here’s what I think:
The standard GriGri is the best fit for most climbers. It’s more affordable, lighter in weight, and does an exceptional job at both top-rope and lead belaying. The GriGri Plus comes with a learning curve and its anti-panic function doesn’t mix well with thick gym ropes, so therefore is not something I would recommend. Newer climbers might buy the Plus as the safer option, but if they are already used to lowering with a standard GriGri, you’ll be better off with that one.
As for experienced climbers, the top-rope/lead switch does not change all that much in my opinion, and its benefit does not outweigh the disadvantages coming from the oversensitive anti-panic system.