I do not remember another piece of climbing equipment that seems to split opinion so much as the Mega Jul. Edelrid’s belay device has been lauded in both the big US magazines, by serious people who know their gear.
Nevertheless, on the UKC forums a number of people have expressed an open hatred of the Mega Jul as the worst handling belay device ever! Having now used it for several months my opinion is a lot more positive than negative. The Mega Jul does all the things that a Reverso or ATC Guide does, but more too.
Firstly it is an assisted locking device – note that is NOT the same as an auto-locking device. Once you hold a climber on the device it 'locks' the rope in place, meaning that although you should never let go of the dead rope, you can hold it incredibly lightly and no slippage occurs. In this sense the Mega Jul is like a Grigri and great for belaying people working projects.
It costs less and weighs less than a Grigi, and unlike that device it can be used with double ropes, so what's not to like?
Well, again just like a Grigri, it can be a pain for paying out rope rapidly because it will go into the lock position if you are not careful. There is a knack (just like with a Grigri!) to stop this from happening (you use the thumb loop) but it takes time and practice to develop.
Lowering also involves pulling back on the thumb loop so requires more effort than with, say, a Reverso but I don't find it either as hard work or as hard to control as some claim.
You can abseil on double ropes with the Mega Jul too. It can be used in one orientation exactly like any other bucket type belay device, where you should use a prussik for extra safety. In the opposite orientation it locks, meaning that you don't need a prussik. Rather you hook a krab through the special slot on the nose of the device and use that as a release handle for abseiling.
Again some people have found this very jerky and scary, but I've come to prefer it. I think, again, it takes some getting used to but once you've worked it out it makes stopping on abseil (say, to recover stuck gear) easy and negates the need for a prussik in your rappel system.
Overall, I feel the Mega Jul is more pernickety to use at first than a Reverso, ATC Guide or similar, but once mastered it has a number of abilities that those other devices lack. Some concerns have been raised that the Mega Jul, being stainless steel (chosen to avoid the wearing-to-an-edge issues that affect alloy belay devices), scratches and notches the alloy of the krab you use it with. I've been using mine with the same HMS krab for a good few months now and it does scratch the krab but not to any degree beyond what I would call cosmetic damage.
Overall, the Mega Jul is a cleverly designed belay device that does things that similar looking devices do not, whilst offering more security. It is a bit fussy to use at first and requires a considered and experienced approach, but once you get the hang of it the Mega Jul works rather well and is particularly versatile.
VIDEO from Weigh My Rack:
What Edelrid Say:
- For belaying a leader or bringing up 2 seconds, also suitable for abseiling
- Very lightweight construction
- High braking performance assists the belayer with leader falls
- Small eyelet for releasing unit with a carabiner when bringing up your partner
- Rope can be paid out faster to a leader by holding device in the “open” position with the thumb
- Suitable for 7.8 - 10.5 mm ropes
- Weight: 65g
More info: Edelrid Website
About Toby Archer:
After many years living in sub-arctic Finland, Toby last year made the (for a climber) very unoriginal decision to move to Sheffield, where he now teaches. He is often to be found somewhere on the Eastern grit edges, or even occasionally on Peak District limestone. He considers himself to be among the three leading world experts on converting Finnish grades to UK grades... as long as it's not harder than E2.