Edelrid MegaJul Belay Device


Original Post
RR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 35

Any body have any experience and insight on the autoblocking component while lead belaying with the Edelrid MegaJul Belay Device ... I'd like to get an autoblocking belay device for my girlfriend (more for peace of mind) , and reviews make this seem just as good as any "traditional" autoblocker... thanks ahead of time for the words of wisdom!

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

The MegaJul is not sold as an autolocking device nor is it certified as such.
The two UIAA categories are Manual braking device and Locking assisted braking device and the MegaJul is certified as a manual device unlike the Grigri which is Locking assisted (the MegaJul would not pass the dynamic test for sure, none of this type do).

Antonio Caligiuri · · Bishop, CA · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 83

I have it, bought it for the same reason as you. I have used it with ropes between 10 and 10.5 and it "assists braking" every time. It does take some getting used to but once you figure it out it is quite nice.

Josh Kornish · · tufaclimbing.com · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 835

I've used the Jul on a 9.6 and I loved it.

It does take some adjustment to your belay technique.

Not a huge fan for belaying up the second

Benjamin Chapman · · Small Town, USA · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 13,267

RichieRich...as with you, I read the reviews. I bought a Mega Jul and love it. As Jim indicated it functions much like a GriGri, but isn't a locking assisted belay device. It is light and the manual braking feature is great. It does take so getting used to, but worth the time and $$.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 650

I love the device. It works a lot better than a Mammut Smart or GriGri for feeding out rope and more dynamic for trad climbing. I tested it with my hefty buddy jumping off a climb and it held him every time with very minimum slippage.

ParkerKempf Kempf · · atlanta, GA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 280

I have logged about 60+ days on my mega-jul on sport/trad/multipitch rock, and I feel that it is a very versatile and good device and definitely a 'next step' in belay devices.
The biggest drawback for me is that if using a rope 10 mm or bigger for 'guide mode' top belaying, it can give you gnarly belayers elbow because of the really high friction...but with skinnier ropes it's a dream.
Also i often flip it over when rappelling so that it functions like a standard ATC because even when trying to use a carabiner as a 'handle' for rappelling with it in standard mode, i still couldn't get it to run smoothly, and if you just crank on the wire to rappel you can pop it out of the device (again this is on fat ropes)

I'd definitely recommend buying one though, they're awesome

RR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 35

Jim, thank you for the clarification. Everyone, thank you for the responses, and I believe the MegaJul is the route we're headed... pun intended

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

As discussed in the thread on the Alpine Up, the reason the MegaJul can't be certified as an locking assisted device but rather is "only" a manual locking device is because it cannot automatically stop a factor-2 fall without the correct manual intervention of the belayer. The UIAA test the device would have to pass to get assisted locking certification looks like this:

UIAA test set-up for locking belay devices, theuiaa.org/upload_area/cer...

and with no brake hand to move the braking strand above the device there will be no braking effect. This is the same for all ATC-style devices, the Mammut Smart and Smart Alpine, and the Click Up and Alpine Up. The UIAA certification thus does not distinguish between the behavior of the ATC-XP and Reverso on the one hand and the more vigorous braking actions of the Smarts, Ups, and MegaJuls---they are all lumped together as manual locking devices in spite of the substantial differences between them when it comes to holding non-factor-2 leader falls.

Personally, I wouldn't be in a rush to embrace the MegaJul. As a counterpoint to the raves here, I know a handful of people who have tried them and don't like them. Its performance appears to depend a great deal on rope diameter and the carabiner that is used, so it is a bit hard to know what you are actually getting. It is known to be hard on carabiners, and the earlier models had quality-control problems (these may now have been fixed however). The primary advantages seem to be light weight, small size, and modest price.

shoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 75
RichieRich wrote:I'd like to get an autoblocking belay device for my girlfriend (more for peace of mind)
sigh
Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 650
rgold wrote:Personally, I wouldn't be in a rush to embrace the MegaJul. As a counterpoint to the raves here, I know a handful of people who have tried them and don't like them. Its performance appears to depend a great deal on rope diameter and the carabiner that is used, so it is a bit hard to know what you are actually getting. It is known to be hard on carabiners, and the earlier models had quality-control problems (these may now have been fixed however). The primary advantages seem to be light weight, small size, and modest price.
No offense Rgold but your making a recommendation is from someone who hasn't tried it and heard second hand from a handful of people who have tried it. Try it, you'll like it. Even it it doesn't hold a factor 2 fall without belayer intervention it certainly is going to slow down the falling climbing a lot more than a conventional device and make it easier to gain control of the rope.
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Benjamin Chapman wrote:RichieRich...as with you, I read the reviews. I bought a Mega Jul and love it. As Jim indicated it functions much like a GriGri, but isn't a locking assisted belay device. It is light and the manual braking feature is great. It does take so getting used to, but worth the time and $$.
Uh! Where did I indicate the MegaJul was anything like a GriGri? The Grigri is a rock-solid, powerful, reliable single rope device with good braking characteristics. I use one all the time for most everything.
The MegaJul is different and I don´t use it even though I have one.
RR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 35

RGold (Jim Titt, to you also), correct me if I'm wrong but it appears that these tests are performed with the belay device in "guide mode". In your experience does the rope diameter have that much of an effect if the belayer is lead belaying from below, and how much slippage would occur if the belayer is not contributing to the system (handsfree) from this position?

Shoo, she does an excellent job belaying, however, being about 70% of my weight, it makes me a little nervous if I take a hard fall and she goes up into the first draw/piece when anchored below is not a sufficient option.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 650
ParkerKempf wrote:I have logged about 60+ days on my mega-jul on sport/trad/multipitch rock, and I feel that it is a very versatile and good device and definitely a 'next step' in belay devices. The biggest drawback for me is that if using a rope 10 mm or bigger for 'guide mode' top belaying, it can give you gnarly belayers elbow because of the really high friction...but with skinnier ropes it's a dream. Also i often flip it over when rappelling so that it functions like a standard ATC because even when trying to use a carabiner as a 'handle' for rappelling with it in standard mode, i still couldn't get it to run smoothly, and if you just crank on the wire to rappel you can pop it out of the device (again this is on fat ropes) I'd definitely recommend buying one though, they're awesome
+1 Exactly what I have found. The guide mode has too much friction. I mitigate this by using a 9.6mm rope. I would still recommend it however even if just used for belaying of a leader. It catches my 220 pound friend every time. (My brake hand is on the rope but the device is clearly catching him.)
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
rgold wrote: The UIAA certification thus does not distinguish between the behavior of the ATC-XP and Reverso on the one hand and the more vigorous braking actions of the Smarts, Ups, and MegaJuls---they are all lumped together as manual locking devices in spite of the substantial differences between them when it comes to holding non-factor-2 leader falls.
I wouldn´t have rushed to write that either!

The initial self-locking (for want of a better word) disguises an essentially weak belay device and it´s a geometrical feature of these designs that the more vigorous the self locking the weaker the plate must be.
Start doing pull tests using belayer hand force and the the vigorous braking action starts to look distinctly less than vigorous, with moderate hand force they are all weaker than a good old ATC XP.
The plates with less initial bite are better at high forces,tested with double 9mm ropes and 17kg hand force the BRD gets near the XP (95%)and small rope version of the Smart Alpine next (93%) and the MegaJul worst with 87% of the stopping power.
It looks like as you increase the hand force the effect is greater but I´ve got some more testing to do on that and also where the break-point is between the initial power advantage and the drop-off in power.

Quite where the Alpine Up is going to fit in is hard to say as there is a subtle trick that might do the job, as I haven´t got one I can´t say.
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
RichieRich wrote:RGold (Jim Titt, to you also), correct me if I'm wrong but it appears that these tests are performed with the belay device in "guide mode". In your experience does the rope diameter have that much of an effect if the belayer is lead belaying from below, and how much slippage would occur if the belayer is not contributing to the system (handsfree) from this position? Shoo, she does an excellent job belaying, however, being about 70% of my weight, it makes me a little nervous if I take a hard fall and she goes up into the first draw/piece when anchored below is not a sufficient option.
No, the tests are done exactly as if a belayer was attempting to hold a Factor 2 fall except there is no belayer.
The German Alpine Club tested a few of the devices to see which falls they would hands-free hold with less than encouraging results though it´s probable the MegaJul would be a reasonable performer compared to the Smart BUT it still isn´t what I´d describe as sufficiently powerful, with a single 9mm it isn´t enough to hold my body weight so no use whatsoever for stopping me falling! I get something like 160kg braking force with a battered old 10mm so through a few draws it might be better than nothing.
Buy a GriGri.
Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 650

RicheRich,

Don't listen to the armchair engineers who have never personally used the device. Listen to climbers and reviewers who have actually used the device.

Rock and Ice...

"I know companies today shy away from the word “auto-locking” but Mega Jul certainly does a great job of braking a fall with very little effort."

"The Mega Jul is the lightest, most versatile and best-performing all-around belay device I’ve ever used—once you get comfortable with it."

Climbing Magazine..

"Climbing Magazine Editor's Choice 2014"

Antonio Caligiuri · · Bishop, CA · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 83
Brian wrote:RicheRich, Don't listen to the armchair engineers who have never personally used the device. Listen to climbers and reviewers who have actually used the device. Rock and Ice... "I know companies today shy away from the word “auto-locking” but Mega Jul certainly does a great job of braking a fall with very little effort." "The Mega Jul is the lightest, most versatile and best-performing all-around belay device I’ve ever used—once you get comfortable with it." Climbing Magazine.. "Climbing Magazine Editor's Choice 2014"
+1 to this. And to Shoo, not everything is about sexism. Female climbers generally weigh less than their male partners.
Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Brian wrote:RicheRich, Don't listen to the armchair engineers who have never personally used the device. Listen to climbers and reviewers who have actually used the device.
You think rgold and I are armchair engineers? I´ll admit I´m an engineer, after all I manufacture and design climbing equipment but armchair surely not, we´ve combined got over 100 years climbing experience and I´m not ready to sit down yet!
Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

If you're not comfortable with her catching you you should spend more time with her instead of getting an auto locking device. Made this mistake then just picked up a reverse and spent time with practice falls and problem solved.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525
Brian wrote:RicheRich, Don't listen to the armchair engineers who have never personally used the device. Listen to climbers and reviewers who have actually used the device.
Hahaha. I'm just a lowly mathematician, not even an applied mathematician, so that indeed makes me an armchair engineer---on a good day. Fortunately, I didn't offer even a single engineering criticism, so the terms is surely misapplied for this thread. Indeed, if you read Jim's response, I made (yet another) engineering mistake by suggesting that the assisted locking devices provide "more vigorous locking." And yes, Jim and I have well over 100 years combined climbing experience and are still at it, so the armchair appellation is way off there.

As for not having used the device myself, I was dissuaded by the opinions of five or six very experienced people I trust who did use it and the various postings on the internet, quite a few of which are on MP if you want to search for them. Taken together, these constitute a sampling of contrary opinions, which is all that I ever suggested. Every potential issue with the device I mentioned can be verified by such a search in case you want to check. So if Brian's advice is to listen to the climbers who have actually used the device, then it would be important to understand that opinion is not unanimous, and so I make absolutely no apology for alerting folks to some of these caveats.

As for the ecstatic magazine reviews and gear of the year awards, it has never been clear to me what kinds of testing standards, if any, apply, particularly in view of the fact that the reviews and awards are made by magazines which accept advertising for the reviewed products and may have been provided them for free. I don't know about the rest of you out there, but this wouldn't be the first time I've scratched my head over some of those reviews and awards.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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