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I just got a sample of Petzl's new assisted braking device, the Grigri+. I must admit I look at it with a lot of disdain, mostly because

  1. It's bulkier than the Grigri 2;
  2. It's heavier than the Grigri 2;
  3. The possibility to choose between lead and top rope modes adds a new mechanical component, which should pretty much weaken the system;
  4. It has almost no ear to grab when using Petzl's recommended belay technique;

On the other hand, the device has very clear advantages over its predecessor:

  1. Stainless steel reinforcements to high friction areas;
  2. Added anti-panic handle;
  3. Internal components made of a different, higher friction material - this makes it possible to build a larger chamber, which should (in principle) decrease the friction when paying out slack;
  4. Casing improved in order to cover the whole interior of the brake - this should keep dirt out;
  5. Petzl finally addressed a very serious problem with Grigri2: the stupid, sharp, wrongly placed casing's tail;

I need to decide whether or not to sell the device without using it, otherwise the price will fall down - and I'm the first among my friends to have one of these, which means I can't just borrow one and test it. I've read multiple reviews, but everyone's just praising the device and the criticism is mostly expressed as "this brake is made to help beginners, and its functions should make the life of someone who just started to climb much easier". The thing is that an anti-panic handle, lead and top rope modes and stainless steel reinforcements mean pretty much nothing to me. What would really make me choose to keep this device are advantages 3 and 5: if it's really much easier to pay slack with this thing, and if it wears the rope less, then I'll keep it. All disadvantages are really important to me, specially 3 and 4.

Check the picture below. Notice how the back of Grigri2's casing (right) was smartly substituted by a new chamber design on the Grigri+ (left)... But notice also how the area to place your finger has disappeared in the Grigri+ (you can't see it in this picture, but the small orange button to place your finger is flat and not very anatomical).

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So: have you used this device? Does it wear the rope less than its predecessor? Is it really easier to pay slack with? Have you had any problems with the belay/top rope button?

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    Sorry but I think this is off-topic. It's a shopping/price/brand comparison question. The close reason says that these things tend to become obsolete quickly. Also, the What not to ask page in our help center includes “I use _ for _, what do you use?” and “What’s your favorite _?” and “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.” Offsite reviews are discouraged because they're opinions we can't discuss with the authors. – Sue Dec 23 '17 at 1:30
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    @Sue This is not at all about price and won't get obsolete fast (original grigri is around since early 90's, grigri2 for 5-10 years). The question states very clear "theoretical" features/advantages/disadvantages and asks whether these are really present in practical use. If anything you could call it too broad, as it asks several questions. However these are tightly linked via the device design, so in my opinion that's fine. – imsodin Dec 23 '17 at 10:14
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I have used both Grigri devices (the older one much more often than the new one), but I own neither. So I can answer at least most of your questions:

  • have you used this device? I have used it a few times ;-)
  • Does it wear the rope less than its predecessor? I don't know, I didn't use it more than a few times, and my ropes get used with all kinds of belay devices. So I can't comment on the rope wear.
  • Is it really easier to pay slack with? Paying out slack works well, a slight bit better than with the older gri-gri.[1] But the ropes I used it with are within the recommended diameter for both devices (9.4-10.3mm), while the Grigri+ is recommended for a wider range (8.5-11mm). In that range, the difference could be larger.
  • Have you had any problems with the belay/top rope button? The switch itself works fine.

Some answers to points that seem implicit in your question:

  • The top rope mode is mostly recommended for beginners or for accident prevention when the need to pay out slack is rare [2]. In that mode, the device locks more quickly. You can toprope just fine in lead mode, but the toprope mode can be useful if you teach beginners how to belay, or you own a gym and want to "support" beginners. (You can even "lock" the mode switch, so that you need a small pin to switch modes again.)
  • You'll quickly get used to the smaller area for grabbing the device when paying out slack.
  • In my experience (and personal opinion), the anti-panic function is overrated. After five years of climbing, I never felt that an intuitive panic reaction would be to pull on the handle instead of simply holding on to the brake strand of the rope. The panic function locks the rope if you pull on the handle too hard, but can be "overridden" by pulling even harder.
  • The general gist of reviews of the Grigri+ seems to be: If you currently own an older Grigri, there rarely is a need to switch to the new one. If you are looking to buy a Grigri, the Grigri+ might be worth the additional cost if you either climb with beginners or need the additional range of supported rope diameters.

[1] I prefer devices like the Mammut Smart or AustriAlpin Fish for leading, so I'm not that used to belaying with a Grigri. Thus, I cannot comment on the fine details, but both devices generally "feel" very similar when paying out slack. Things might be different if you are an experienced grigri lead belayer.

[2] https://www.petzl.com/LU/en/Sport/Choosing-the-belay-mode

So this belay mode is preferred in the following situations:

  • Supervision of children/beginners learning how to top-rope belay in climbing school.
  • Occasional rope climbing with the GRIGRI.
  • Belaying the second in multi-pitch climbing
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I own a Grigri1 and a Grigri+, and I'm used to the Grigri2 too. To me Grigri+ is better. Positives: new materials, improved casing, no sharp edges, anti-panic handle, greater range of ropes can be well controlled by belayers and, last, the new system about belaying top-rope (though useless to me). Negative: the more you go further 9,4 mm the more you experiment difficulty with paying out slack. No problems I find neither with the dimension of the item nor with the absence of the rounded fold on the outer left. I hope my english is good enough. Keep your Grigri+, unless you're in money need. I went from "One" to "Plus", but I wouldn't do it if I owned a Grigri2. Now I'm pretty satisfied.

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