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There has been a lot of discussion lately on the differences between the Petzl GRIGRI 2, Petzl RIG, and Petzl I'D in terms of efficiency loss and ease of detensioning. So, what I have done is I have done an in-depth test using these three brakes to see exactly what the differences were in these two areas.
I setup an 82 ft. long slackline using the RAGEline and a 5:1 pulley system with the SMC 3" Double PMP's with an embedded brake using PMI 11mm ACCESS PRO static rope. I also used the Elite Multiplier Kit to tension the line.
The first test I did was I wanted to compare just how much tension I could get out of the tensioning system mentioned above using the three different brakes. I used the same exact setup for each brake and then pulled as hard as I possibly could using each of the brakes. I then compared the max tension that I reached.
The next test I did was a detensioning test. At the max tension I was able to reach with each brake, I tested to see just how easy and controllable releasing tension was. I recorded how easy the handle was to reach with the embedded brake technique, how easy the initial pull on the handle was, how much of a jolt there was after the initial release of tension, and how fast the rope wanted to go through the brake.
The last test I did was a high tension detensioning test. I added a few multipliers to the setup in order to be able to reach tensions above 3,500 lbf. I took the tension this high for each brake and then tested how easy and controllable detensioning was using the same methods as above.
On my first test with the GRIGRI 2, I was able to reach a tension of 2,434 lbf (1,106 kgf). Starting at roughly 1,800 lbf, I really started to notice the friction caused by the GRIGRI. The last bit of tensioning was absurdly difficult.
Releasing tension with the GRIGRI 2 at 2,434 lbf was very easy and controllable. I had no issues accessing the handle at this force and the initial opening was no problem at all. I think with the newly redesigned GRIGRI, the handle is much more sturdy and a lot more controllable. The rope had zero tendency to come flying through the brake, even with minimal force placed on the tail. It was quite a good experience.
Releasing tension with the GRIGRI 2 at the higher forces (~3,430 lbf) prooved to be slightly different. I had an extremely hard time accessing the handle at this high of a tension. Once I was able to access the handle, releasing tension was just as easy as the lower tension test. There was no initial jolting of the rope and I was able to control the release speed quite easily.
On my first test with the RIG, I was able to reach a tension of 2,604 lbf (1,183.6 kgf). Getting to this tension was slightly less difficult compared to the GRIGRI 2, but still quite the chore.
Releasing tension with the RIG at 2,604 lbf was much harder than the GRIGRI 2. The handle was very easy to access, but the initial opening prooved to be significantly more difficult than the GRIGRI 2. Once the handle opening, the rope had the tendency to want to go through the brake very quickly. I had to hold on to the tail of the rope coming from the RIG with a lot of force to ensure there was no explosive detensioning.
Releasing tension with the RIG at the higher forces (~3,460 lbf) prooved to be quite difficult. The handle was very easy to access, but the initial opening was very difficult. Once the handle was opened, the rope wanted to fly through the RIG at a high speed. I had to hold on to the tail with a great deal of force to ensure a controllable detensioning.
On my first test with the I'D, I was able to reach a tension of 2,670 lbf (1,213.6 kgf). Getting to this tension was less difficult than the GRIGRI 2 and the RIG.
Releasing tension with the I'D at 2,670 lbf was quite easy. The handle was more difficult to access compared to the previous two brakes, but the initial opening was quite easy. However, the rope jolted a lot on the initial opening, but it was quite easy to control the speed of detensioning.
Releasing tension with the I'D at the higher forces (3,530 lbf) prooved to be quite easy. The handle was not that difficult to access and the initial opening was very easy. However, the rope jolted once the handle was opened. Controlling the speed of detensioning was easy as long as I held the tail tightly.
It's very difficult to determine which brake is best overall as all three performed quite well. However, I can say that the GRIGRI 2 and the I'D both outperformed the RIG in terms of releasing tension. I can also say that the GRIGRI 2 is a fantastic brake that is more than sufficient for most types of slacklines. I think combining the GRIGRI 2 with the SMC 3" Double PMP's and PMI 11mm ACCESS PRO makes for a very lightweight and super efficient pulley system. I also think that if you are wanting a stronger and more efficient brake, that you should spring for the I'D over the RIG. It's increased efficency and significantly easier releasing mechanism is more than enough to make up for the extra $65 in price. The weight difference between the two is not much to notice.
All-in-all, Petzl descending devices are great tools for braking a pulley system. Depending on what types of lines you do and what sort of tensions you typically use, either the GRIGRI 2 or the I'D are both great choices.
In the future, I would like to compare these results with the use of other braking devices such as the CMC MPD and Edelrid Eddy. Also, I would like to continue comparing other parts of the pulley system to find out which components are of the most importance within the tenstioning system.
That concludes this comparison test between the braking devices offered in the shop. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below. You can also checkout the video of this test below (sorry for the length - ~20 minutes). Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Slack Science articles!