Edelrid’s new Giga Jul looks deceptively like your standard two-tube device. But by moving the slider in the center and flipping the orientation, you quickly go from a manual-braking to assisted-braking device—the options include manual-braking or assisted-braking lead and toprope belay, guide-mode top belay, and manual-braking or assisted-braking rappel. Basically, the Giga Jul is many different devices in one featherweight (4.2-ounce) package.
Recently, I’ve been taking the Giga Jul as my sole device on long Eldorado Canyon routes. Pitching out, I build the standard guide-mode plaquette top belay, and when my second reaches the station, she anchors in while I move the slider and flip the Giga Jul into assisted-braking lead mode. Using the assisted-braking rappel also gives me extra comfort while descending Eldo’s choss corners; while it tends to be a little jerkier than a manual-brake rappel, the added friction requires significantly less force from the brake hand, making it easier to untangle the rope or navigate tricky terrain.
Full disclosure: The first few times while switching modes, I had to pay close attention to the diagrams on the device. Also, feeding rope while in brake-assist mode was initially clunky, and my partner rained vulgarities upon me after I short-roped her at the crux of a Boulder Canyon sport route on day one of testing. However, even though the Giga Jul has the longest learning curve of any tube-style device I’ve used, once I was up to speed I loved its multi-functionality. (Watch the online demo videos and test it in the gym before more serious missions.) I also dug the thoughtful hybrid construction: The main body is lightweight aluminum, while the parts that see the heaviest use are robust steel. Compatible with ropes from 7.1 to 10 mm, the Giga Jul is an awesome belay/rappel device—it’s by far the most versatile one in my quiver and never leaves my harness.