My favourite belay device for single rope lead belaying.


The Jul2 is Edelrid’s latest offering in the current range of single-rope, assisted belay devices. To look at it is a rather simple device; no moving parts, it resembles a regular stitch plate style tube belay plate. On closer inspection you’ll see a few extra bits and some parts that look like they’re missing. As close to a normal plate as it looks, it does need an altered technique to operate successfully (I’ll go into more detail on this later). When it is used correctly it’s a dream to use and has only one small down side. With the main objective nailed: keeping the climber supplied with a ready amount of rope at the right time (clipping) and not too much at the wrong time (falling). Edelrid claims the Jul2 is an ‘assisted’ device, meaning it doesn’t lock completely. In use I found it on the lockier end of ‘assisted’, I have only used it on 9.5mm rope so this is likely to change with thinner ropes. As a side note, it is quite unique in that it can be used with similar performance on 8.9mm to 11mm ropes, which is pretty huge but if you’ve got an old, fat, shagged 10.5mm it might be more like an 11mm by now. I’ll have to do some more testing with thicker and thinner ropes to see how it compares with paying out, locking and lowering. 


Lead Belaying: Paying out rope


The Jul2 pays out like a normal tube device (quickly) but IMHO* better! The reason being is your dead rope hand stays on the rope. You never move from the safe position, so to pay out a few armfuls of slack quickly is no problem, leaving no compromised positions (like having the dead and lead rope parallel). To pay rope out the dead hand stays with a thumb in the steel loop. To release the device you lift your right hand with rope and device inside your fingers, no need to open your hand. This allows the live hand to pull rope through freely, just like an old no-teeth style device (again, a fast payout!). You can then relax the dead position, bringing it back down.


One big thing I really like, it all still requires the same hard cast technique to never remove the dead hand and feed with the left live hand. I think this, combined with the speed of feeding, makes it an ideal beginner to advanced device. It’s safe and simple enough to hand to a novice with a little guidance and excellent for advanced climbing, where you need to feed slack quickly and in copious amounts. I still like to use a little dynamic belaying where I walk back after a clip and in when the climber is passing the bolt.


Top roping is also a cinch. It’s extremely easy to take in slack and you’ll be doing very well to drop someone.


Catching a Fall 


It locks! Even given the carefully worded description ‘assisted’. With a 9.5mm rope and good technique, I’ve found the device to lock every time. All down to clever geometry and the correct size carabiner, the Jul2 cinches down on the rope using the aforementioned ‘missing parts’. On both sides there are two cutaways, when compared to a normal belay plate. These allow the plate and carabiner to bend the rope enough to add sufficient friction to stop the rope. I have safely tested to see: if the belayer was unconscious would the rope run through? No, it didn’t, with a safe amount of slack held, the rope came to a stop before any friction was added by hand. So in a worst case scenario regarding the belayer, the climber wouldn’t hit the floor**.


Once the rope has stopped, you might be off the deck having given a soft catch. You’ll want to lower back to the floor and get on with seeing what your partner wants to do. Ground up or a bit of dogging? I found the lowering less intuitive than a normal plate. You’ll have to pause (at first) and remember that letting your dead hand’s grip off won’t work -  the Jul2 has locked. You will need to lift your right thumb in to the roof of the lever and lower off. I found I have a bit more control if I put my left hand on the thumb loop and right hand as the friction controller. 


If your partner just wants a rest you can chill, the Jul2 is now locked, I found the rope won't slip. 




This is the part where other devices feel smoother and easier to get to grips with. You need to apply upward pressure to the lever part of the device and release the geometry holding the rope tight. I again found the swapping of hands offers more control. Left thumb in the loop/lever and right hand lower down the dead rope to apply the right amount of friction for adjusting the lowering speed. Safe? Yeah you don’t feel like you’re pulling on a lever it’s more like a tube style where you’re adjusting speed with your dead hand still, not so much a mechanical device, like a Petzl GriGri. This removes the strange instinct to want to pull harder on the lever, treating it like a brake, only to speed up the descent to eye-watering levels (I’ve never done this but you hear all too many horror stories and hence the introduction of the anti-panic GriGri+). To start with, it feels hard to find the sweet spot angling the thumb lever but with a few sessions I got the hang of it. Like anything concerning safety of someone else I started slow.




The main body is made from stainless steel so I really can’t see it wearing out, maybe ever! If you buy it in the steel Edelrid Bruce HMS set you’ll probably never need to buy another sport device. If you did use it with an aluminium biner, like the Edelrid Strike HMS, you’ll see signs of wear on the top of the top bar of the biner, not dangerous but maybe a little ugly. The reason for this is due to the hard steel striking the softer aluminum biner with a catch, it’ll just leave small dents and marks.




The main advantage of this over most other devices for me is the speed of paying out. The lack of resistance when chucking rope at your leader is amazing. This paired with the almost auto locking abilities has made it my favourite device for the wall and sport climbing. Seriously, I really do enjoy using it. 


The main downside is learning to lower smoothly can be a little tricky, here is where a normal tube style device wins. 


The value for money (£40.50 with a steel biner that will outlast all other belay devices) is brilliant and the range of ropes it can be used with is unique. You can also get a few double rope versions that will use the same techniques employed by the Jul2, so if you want to feel the same level of safety trad and alpine climbing the Jul range is extremely hard to ignore.


*In my honest opinion


**This hasn’t been scientifically tested and is entirely anecdotal. Be careful, sheeple!


- Bertie