Edelrid Mega Jul Review

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.

Belaying with a single rope  © Toby Archer
Belaying with a single rope
© Toby Archer
 
Using the Mega Jul with double ropes in the Llanberis Pass.  © Toby Archer
Using the Mega Jul with double ropes in the Llanberis Pass.
© Toby Archer

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.

Mega Jul out on the grit  © Toby Archer
Mega Jul out on the grit
© Toby Archer

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.

 
photo
The Mega Jul being used for sport climbing, the Cornice, Cheedale.
photo
Bringing up two seconds on a direct belay.
 

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.

Conclusion:

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:

 

 

Edelrid Mega Jul  © Edelrid
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

 

 

 

Marmot Genesis softshell jacket: Toby ice climbing in North Wales  © Toby Archer
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.




11 Apr, 2016
Unfortunately I think your review is too small in scope, and doesn't make the limited scope (single pitch climbing) very clear. I've switched from mega jul to DMMpivot for multipitch routes due to the reasons below: Megajul - Plus: while not officially autolocking, does provide extra auto-locking function when lead belaying. - Plus: possibly more versatile for abseiling since it can auto-lock. - Negative: on a multipitch climb when swapping from bringing up a second to lead belaying them, you've got to re-feed the ropes the other way through the device. This confuses people and takes longer. - The graphs from Jim Titt at http://www.mountainproject.com/v/edelrid-megajul-belay-device/109133730__8 (scroll down to the graph) shows that the Megajul locks quickly but has very worrying upper limits, so I reckon would not hold hard falls. So I use the mega jul for single sports climbing where its auto-lockoff ability is safer, and you're less likely to have hard falls, but use my pivot elsewhere. Pivot: - Plus: don't have to re-feed ropes on multipitch route. - Plus: slightly larger rope range for half ropes (Megajul 7.8-9.0; Pivot 7.3-9.2) - Made in Wales
11 Apr, 2016
The who premise of the 'assisted locking' nature of the device is based the edges of the device that the rope runs through being a lot thinner/sharper, therefore providing a lot more bite against the rope when it locks down against the biner. The idea is sound, and when holding a resting/falling climber, it works very well; locking off nicely and requiring no effort to hold the brake rope for long periods. The problems come when lowering, paying out and abseiling. The device is constantly trying to bite down into the locked position. Other devices like the gri-gri have managed to engineer around this to a greater extent, whereas the Mega Jul really struggles. To freely feed rope through the device required, in essence, to completely open the device. There doesn't seem to be a happy medium. It's either completely locked off or 100% open with rope flying through it. I've had one for 9 months, so have had plenty of time to try and master the 'knack' of the device. I now only use mine for bringing up a second on single pitch trad with a walk off, almost completely avoiding a scenario when I'd need to open up the device to pay out. Sorry Edelrid. Points for trying though!
11 Apr, 2016
Toby - you forgot to mention that after abseiling or lowering these things get roasty toasty. Far more roasty toasty than an aluminium plate. What with the Mega Jul's small dimensions and it being made of Stainless steel which is absolutely chronic for heat retention, you can get proper burns from them if you abseil for any distance. As for the rest of it, you know my opinions on this device. Just. Horrible. Alpine up might be 3 times the weight and size but it does everything the Megajul SHOULD do, including not slip like an seal in the mess made by th Exxon Valdez. "The graphs are a presentation of the relative power of various devices for the easy appreciation and understanding of those amongst the internet users who are neither engineers or statisticians. They are not part of a PHD thesis. They can accept them at face value as reliable guidance from an experienced engineer who has more experience in testing belay devices than almost certainly anyone one earth and who regularly tests other products and uses (simple) statistical methods in his daily work OR they can choose to believe in lizards in space. Either way it´s not a burning issue in my life. " - best put down ever :)
11 Apr, 2016
Do you? Why?
11 Apr, 2016
See http://www.edelrid.de/out/documents/downloads/GAL_MicroMega_Jul.pdf . Compare figure 7a and 8a (despite the angle of view switching): in 7a the dead rope is on the thumb loop side, but in 8a it's on the opposite side. i.e. you have to re-thread the rope. And I've just noticed figure 8d which says that you must position the rope carabiner in a different way when you're using only 1 rope in guide mode. So that's another thing to remember. To re-iterate a comment further up: good effort by Edelrid to try to come up with an improved belay device, but it has too many shortcomings and introduces new failure modes.
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