Assisted belay device? Which one for what?


Original Post
Kaihaku · · Kaneohe, Hawaii · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I am wanting to pick up an assisted braking belay device and after asking around I have come across a lot of various opinions and options. After a bit of considering, I narrowed down my options to these devices,

Petzl Grigri 2

Mad Rock Lifeguard

Climbing Technology Click Up/Alpine Up

Camp Matik

So I thought I'd ask, what are each of these belay devices strengths and weaknesses in your guys opinion, and what are each of them best suited for?

Thank you for any info?

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240
Kaihaku wrote:

I am wanting to pick up an assisted breaking belay device and after asking around I have come across a lot of various opinions and options. After a bit of considering, I narrowed down my options to these devices,

Petzl Grigri 2

Mad Rock Lifeguard

Climbing Technology Click Up/Alpine Up

Camp Matik

So I thought I'd ask, what are each of these belay devices strengths and weaknesses in your guys opinion, and what are each of them best suited for?

Thank you for any info?

 
Gri-gri is the most widely used, and with that comes convenience-- people can more easily check if you are belaying correctly, and you can do the same, when evaluating partners. Also, for the same reason, if you lose, drop, or otherwise misplace your device, gri-gri is the most likely device that someone would have for you to borrow at the gym or at the crag.

But the other thing to consider is, who is going to teach you how to use this device, and what device is this person/persons using, because (assuming you are new to this whole thing) you would best be learning from someone who is very familiar with whatever device you are learning on.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

There are threads on here with a lot of discussion, grigri2 and Alpine Up, for sure, probably others.

My personal choice, coming soon as my mother's day present (yay!), is an Alpine Up. 

I am primarily an ATC user, so my preference is a device that uses the same hand positions. Thus, the Up. 

I had the opportunity to try out some devices, and the Up won hands down, for me, YMMV. Literally get these in your hands to see how you like them, if at all possible.

Grigris are out, for me, for several reasons, but one is that I need to be able to do double strand raps. 

I really, really liked the AlpineUp, it's ease of use, and how well it fits my very small hands. It has been in use by a friend for perhaps hundreds of pitches now, and he loves it.

Best, OLH

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

OP, it's "braking", by the way. "Breaking" is not a good thing when belaying. :-)

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

Just get a grigri 2. Most people are familiar with it and it's been proven.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

It depends on what you want. As far as the devices listed, all except the alpine up fall into the cam assisted braking category while the alpine up's braking mechanism is quite different. I only have little experience using the gri2 and none of the other camming belay devices so take this with a grain of salt, but from what I've read on here throughout the past 3 years is the grigri is the best of the camming style devices unless you're a lefty where the vergo shines more. I have much more experience with the alpine up and the mammut alpine smart.

About the alpine up:

If you use the carabiner that it comes paired with it won't ever lock up while you're feeding slack. In fact, in order for it to lock up it there must be some force (body weight or more) on the climbers strand as well as a tiny amount of force on the brake strand. If you brake hand is off the rope, it won't lock up. If your brake hand is on the rope but not gripping then it may or may not lock up. I have had it lock up with my thumb just pushing the brake strand very lightly down towards the belay biner. 

So whether it will catch your climber if you are knocked unconscious from rockfall depends on a lot of variables that are out of your control. That's the price for having it never lock up while you're trying to feed slack. However, if belaying with doubles or twins, it has been shown to catch a fall unattended. This also means that it will lock up reliably on a double rope rap.  It works well in guide mode. It is easier to lower with in guide mode than anything other than the DMM pivot, and rope pulls through the device smoother than an ATC guide, although not quite as smooth as the alpine smart or gigi.

It also has different belay/rap mode that functions like an ATC, which I have used occasionally on very thick ropes like 10.5 and up because the assisted braking doesn't lower/rap well with those ropes. If the whole unconscious belayer thing isn't a deal breaker for you, I would highly recommend it. It does everything well if you are working on a 10.2 rope or thinner and never short ropes your leader. It is also by far the best assisted device for use with half ropes, which I'm sure Rgold will explain in better if he sees this thread.

By the way, DON'T use a different biner as it can severely affect the ability for the device to lock up. You might be able to get away with it with some biners but don't even bother. The belay biner it comes with is also very nice, it has a wire keeper to prevent crossloading and it is hard anodized so it is very wear resistant. I've probably put around 100 pitches of belay and rappel with plenty of whippers caught and I'm just now seeing the anodization start to fade ever so slightly. The belay biner is well worth the money, but I dunno about the actual belay device. I bought mine used on here for $50. I don't know if I'd get one at retail price, but I'm very stingy with my money.

Kaihaku · · Kaneohe, Hawaii · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0
Old lady H wrote:

OP, it's "braking", by the way. "Breaking" is not a good thing when belaying. :-)

Fixed:) thanks for pointing that out. How long would you say it took you to learn to use an alpine up coming from an ATC?

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
Kaihaku wrote:

Fixed:) thanks for pointing that out. How long would you say it took you to learn to use an alpine up coming from an ATC?

Hah! The hardest part was trying to read the instructions off of my phone, to see how to load it.

Getting the basics of how it works, maybe fifteen minutes? This was strictly just for the purpose of a hands on trial in the gym, after watching my friend using it in the field.

We (myself and the interested staff at the gym) put a top rope back up belay on the climber, who then did a lead with falls while I tried out lead belaying.

Big enough falls to pop me off the ground a bit too, part of what I really am interested in performance wise.

Every bit of it was sweet! Climber traded with me, he liked it too, got it instantly. 

The gym, ATC only for belays, approved it as an ATC type device, also a consideration. That means, even with a different device, the staff and students will be seeing the same belay the facility teaches.

When I have it for real, obviously, I'll spend quite a lot of time getting it down, including backed up lead belays at the gym. But, this is part of what I really like, it is also really hard to actually mess up, short of not even having the rope clipped into the biner at all.

It was smooooth as can be, feeding slack and lowering. All you have to adjust to from an ATC, is how the device locks/unlocks, and that is pretty simple, when it is in your hands. 

Best, OLH

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
Lena chita wrote:

 
Gri-gri is the most widely used, and with that comes convenience-- people can more easily check if you are belaying correctly, and you can do the same, when evaluating partners. Also, for the same reason, if you lose, drop, or otherwise misplace your device, gri-gri is the most likely device that someone would have for you to borrow at the gym or at the crag.

But the other thing to consider is, who is going to teach you how to use this device, and what device is this person/persons using, because (assuming you are new to this whole thing) you would best be learning from someone who is very familiar with whatever device you are learning on.

I second Lena on this one. Whatever you are interested in, or end up getting, make sure you have someone who can teach you. They need to have had enough time on it to know what it might do in the field, with different users and applications.

OLH

Max Rausch · · Monterey, California · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 75

Can't go wrong with a gri gri. I personally did not like the Mad Rock Lifeguard. I thought it locked up too easily. I have been using the Trango Vergo for the past couple months and really really like it. More than a gri gri in fact. Unfortunately they were just recalled for a minor issue, and won't be re- released until July. 

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

Wait for the wild country revo and get the grigri. + or 2 either way you will be happy.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

The Camp Matik and Mad Rock Lifeguard fall into the same use skill as the Grigri, although they each have their own quirks. 

I like the grigri2 alot, I think it's currently the best assisted locking device on the market for a few reasons. It's light, it fits a variety of hand sizes (small to large), it's mechanism is extremely reliable and the basics of operation are easy to learn. 

The grigri is also the most versatile of all the devices you've listed across the spectrum of rope climbing from sport, trad, big wall, aid, rigging, ascending, belaying, rappelling, etc. It does all of these things on the high side of good to excellent. 

I've never used the Up, but am familiar with the concept and I agree it's a great device for the trad climber who wants a little extra help with catching falls. I don't think it'd make a good sport device or big wall device, so if you're a multi discipline climber, it may not be the ideal device for you. 

All that said, to each their own. Everyone likes what they like, and if a belay device intrigues you, by all means. I'm happy being caught by anything, so long as the user is fully competent with the device. 

Kaihaku · · Kaneohe, Hawaii · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0
John Wilder wrote:

The Camp Matik and Mad Rock Lifeguard fall into the same use skill as the Grigri, although they each have their own quirks. 

I like the grigri2 alot, I think it's currently the best assisted locking device on the market for a few reasons. It's light, it fits a variety of hand sizes (small to large), it's mechanism is extremely reliable and the basics of operation are easy to learn. 

The grigri is also the most versatile of all the devices you've listed across the spectrum of rope climbing from sport, trad, big wall, aid, rigging, ascending, belaying, rappelling, etc. It does all of these things on the high side of good to excellent. 

I've never used the Up, but am familiar with the concept and I agree it's a great device for the trad climber who wants a little extra help with catching falls. I don't think it'd make a good sport device or big wall device, so if you're a multi discipline climber, it may not be the ideal device for you. 

All that said, to each their own. Everyone likes what they like, and if a belay device intrigues you, by all means. I'm happy being caught by anything, so long as the user is fully competent with the device. 

Thanks for the info. Have you used the Matik and Lifeguard? I am curious how they compare to the ubiquitous Grigri 2 and if the advantages they claim to offer are true?

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
John Wilder wrote:

The Camp Matik and Mad Rock Lifeguard fall into the same use skill as the Grigri, although they each have their own quirks. 

I like the grigri2 alot, I think it's currently the best assisted locking device on the market for a few reasons. It's light, it fits a variety of hand sizes (small to large), it's mechanism is extremely reliable and the basics of operation are easy to learn. 

The grigri is also the most versatile of all the devices you've listed across the spectrum of rope climbing from sport, trad, big wall, aid, rigging, ascending, belaying, rappelling, etc. It does all of these things on the high side of good to excellent. 

I've never used the Up, but am familiar with the concept and I agree it's a great device for the trad climber who wants a little extra help with catching falls. I don't think it'd make a good sport device or big wall device, so if you're a multi discipline climber, it may not be the ideal device for you. 

All that said, to each their own. Everyone likes what they like, and if a belay device intrigues you, by all means. I'm happy being caught by anything, so long as the user is fully competent with the device. 

What's your objection to the Up and sport? Just curious, thanks!

OLH

Eric Carlos · · GJ · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 30

I think the MadRock Lifeguard is a better smoother design than Grigri2.  Worth checking out.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

I have used the CAMP Matik and really disliked the panic mode. I felt it was really hard to modulate the lowering without it slipping into the panic mode and stopping, then you have to pop the handle back then crank it back slowly trying to find that sweet spot that keeps it lowering. I did not have the same problem with the Grigri +. As much as I like the Grigri +, I probably still prefer the Grigri 2. It's just solid, easy to use and most people are familiar with it so it's easy to get a belay with it. Drop the $99 (or cheaper if you find it on sale) and enjoy it. 

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 30

I have experience with the Petzl GriGri 2 and as of today, the Click Up. I didn't get the GriGri 2 because when I've tried it in the gym, feeding out slack rapidly when my leader is clipping often causes the camming action to engage. The Click Up, in contrast, feeds slack just like a tube-style device, with no need for a hand on the device. The assisted braking on either device holds body weight without a hand on the brake once engaged (this I tested a foot off the ground).

I'm under the impression that the Alpine Up works roughly the same as the Click Up, but with more features, and geared toward double/twin ropes (from what I've read, it seems like the Click Up might handle single ropes better than the Alpine Up).

The GriGri+ has a switch which they claim addresses the issue I have with the GriGri2 where feeding slack quickly causes the camming action to engage, but I haven't tried it, and I worry that the looser camming action would catch more slowly in the event of an actual fall. I'll try to get back with more information if I ever get a chance to try these devices.

r m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0
Lena chita wrote:

 
...people can more easily check if you are belaying correctly...

Nice idea, cept for the world being full of people using less than ideal grigri belaying styles. It seems to me we're very tolerant of grigri misuse, because hey - that cam does catch most of the time. If someone let go of the brake strand of an atc, well that's something to be corrected - but do it on a grigri, well, one may just let it slide.

My experience as a grigri2 owner since they came out is...I use it so rarely I forget how. ATC-G is just so much nicer and more versatile :D.

zoso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 425

I personally dig the Mad Rock device.  It feeds rope just like an ATC (well, almost) and locks up fine in a fall.  Only neg I have is that it is kinda off/on when lowering.  I never could get very good at the GriGri personally.  

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136
Kaihaku wrote:

Fixed:) thanks for pointing that out. How long would you say it took you to learn to use an alpine up coming from an ATC?

There are two differences between the use of the alpine up and the ATC. The first is obvious: set up. Once you know how it's set up it is hard to forget. The second is when the device "clicks up" and locks off. If you just caught a whip, you just push the device away from your body until the carabiner is out of the slot or if you're lowering than you use the lever. All very easy stuff, unless you are trying to lower on a super fat rope. In that case you may have to actually pull the rope through the device, but no assisted braking device is going to fun with such a fat rope.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
Old lady H wrote:

What's your objection to the Up and sport? Just curious, thanks!

OLH

Tube belays = short roping 

Working sport routes requires a fast belay that you just can't give with a tube device. The Up solves the locking issue (it sucks to belay a projecting climber without an assisted lock), but i doubt boinking and juggling would be pleasant or easy with it.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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