The Grigri is a single rope, assisted braking belay device from climbing gear manufacturers Petzl. It has a camming mechanism to help the belayer arrest a fall. This cam engages on the rope under sudden friction, usually caused by a climber beginning to fall, and can be released by using the lever on the left side of the device giving the belayer control over the climber’s descent. The original Grigri was released back in 1991 and was updated to its current model in 2011. Following on it’s huge success, Petzl released an additional model, the Grigri+ in 2017.
GriGri & GriGri+ Differences
At quick glance The Grigri+ looks very similar to the standard Grigri but it does have a few additional features that sets it apart. One small addition is a steel plate on the right side where the rope runs while lowering. This will reduce the amount of wear over time and extend the life of the Grigri+ compared to the standard model.
It also has an integrated "anti-panic" mode. When lowering a climber with either model you control the rate of decent with the release lever. If for some reason, the belayer panics and pulls too far back on the lever while lowering a climber, it will disengage causing the cam to lock back into place and stopping the climber’s descent. This lever can be reengaged by letting go of it completely and returning it to its normal position.
Finally, on the Grigri+ there is a small turn dial located underneath the lever. This is used to adjust the amount of force or friction is needed to engage the cam. There are two settings: top rope and lead mode. While set to top-rope mode, the camming mechanism requires less force to engage when arresting a falling climber. Conversely; while in lead mode, the cam requires more force to engage which allows the rope to be fed through the device easier.
There are two main reason why we can see people would purchase the Grigri+ over the standard Grigri. The Grigri+ seems to be more useful for instructors and guides who are teaching new climbers how to belay, and then immediately asking them to put these skills to use in an uncontrolled environment (i.e. outside at a crag). These same reasons might also be enough for parents or adults taking kids climbing, or even just for a person who takes lots of beginners climbing to purchase one. The added safety features of the panic brake and the dual friction modes builds in more redundancy to this already very robust device.
However saying all that, for most experienced climbers, a regular Grigri will be sufficient for everyday use and those added safety features won't really make a difference. The only real reason why an experienced climber might want to purchase a Grigri+ over a standard model is because of that steel wear plate. If you do find that you are replacing your Grigri every couple of years because you are wearing a groove on the rope trail side, then a Grigri+ will dramatically extend the life of your device.
Climbing Gear Buyers Guide by: Kee Eck