Gear testing - the Edelrid MegaJul
The Edelrid Mega Jul is perhaps the most versatile belay device going around if you have the dedication to learn how to use it.
That sums up my thoughts on the Mega Jul!
Using the Edelrid MegaJul belaying leaders, abseiling and in guide mode belaying a second
I originally got an Edelrid Mega Jul for use alpine climbing. Using skinny, we, icy ropes with mitts, I was quite aware that if my partner ever actually fell, it would be near impossible to hold and break the fall. The Petzl GriGri was out of the question for the inability to abseil on double ropes and if I can avoid rigging pull lines when abseiling in the mountains I do as the knot and biner can get caught easily. I read up on the Mega Jul being a ‘break assisted’ device and tested one in the shop then thought “bugger it, I’m taking it on my trip”. It basically went on to do everything I was hoping it would and I think it’s the best innovation to lightweight belay devices since the Reverso.I've used on a couple of alpine and ice climbing trips as well as many rock multi-pitches.
Using it with an alpine 9.2mm rope, feeding slack was absolutely fine. It was very easy to lock it up when needed by holding the thumb loop down, and unlocking isn’t a problem - just lift the thumb loop up. I know this isn’t meant to be advised, but often when your belaying on an alpine climb, there is other jobs to do besides belaying – sorting gear, layers, reinforcing anchors, taking photos etc. I felt really confident holding the break hand in the ‘lock’ position while doing other tasks with the other hand knowing I’d easily be able to hold a fall should it happen, even with mitts on.
When in ‘guide’ mode belaying a second it flowed just as well as a Petzl Reverso in my opinion although I’ve never used it with a fatter rope. There are three different ways to rig it for abseiling to – auto lock, slow and fast. I mainly used it in the slow or fast modes as I thought the auto lock was quite jolty and cumbersome.
A sample of instructions for the Edelrid MegaJul
This however is the caution – Both in belay and abseiling mode, the Mega Jul can pretty much be rigged in 4 different ways: break loop down, break loop up, back-the-front break loop down, and back-the-front break loop up. You have to really get familiar with the device to know which one to use. It’s not that hard and I think anyone with half a brain and 15 seconds to think will always get it right but after using standard ATC’s for years sometimes you just have to think twice about it. An example of this is how you rig it in guide mode. Contrary to all other ATC’s in guide mode, the rope enters the side with the wire loop and the free floating biner is clipped floating on the opposite side to the wire holster. The first time looks wrong but you quickly get used to it. If you rig it like a standard guide mode ATC it will completely lock up (check video on the product page to see examples). It's also worth noting that the type of biner you use it with can effect how it auto locks. Edelrid have designed it to run with their own HMS biners. I use it with a Petzl Attache and it works fine however I know that if the biner is too wide it won't fit into the locking groove properly and therefore not auto lock as easily.
- Break assisted (auto-lock) in leader mode
- Auto lock in guide mode
- Abseil can be rigged in auto lock mode
- Can also be rigged as a standard ATC belay device with no auto locking
- Abseils on double and single ropes
- Constantly unlocking and locking when a climber is falling multiple times can be a pain
- Not good with ropes over 10mm as it can lock up too easily
Final Result What I think it’s good for – I totally would use the Edelrid Mega Jul on any type of climbing where I’m not expecting the leader to always be falling, ie. probably not projecting a sport climb. For anything else, I think it’s great. For sport climbing I would still prefer the GriGri as the way it auto locks and releases is a little smoother and this makes a difference when you’re catching a climber 10 times in a row. However for general rock climbing, multi-pitch, alpine and ice, anywhere you have to belay and abseil, I really rate the MegaJul. I haven’t used it with thick ropes, I have heard that it can be a little hard to pay out slack but I couldn’t tell you.
By: Matt Eaton