With the Birdie, Beal delivers a compact and aggressively priced assisted-braking belay device.
Assisted-braking belay devices are commonplace at crags and gyms. The Petzl GRIGRI is the undisputed winner of the preferred vote amongst actively camming units. And for fantastic purpose: The GRIGRI was the very first assisted-braking device and carries a confirmed track record.
Though the leader, the GRIGRI does have nuances that rub some the incorrect way.
There’s a somewhat difficult approach to retain the unit from camming when promptly paying out slack with the brake hand nevertheless in handle of the rope. And the weight and size of the unit are issues for some. Ultimately, the MSRP of $110 tends to make it 1 of the far more high-priced belay devices.
Beal joins the assisted-braking fray this month, releasing the Birdie. We tested the unit for the duration of a day of sport cragging for this very first appear evaluation.
Beal Birdie Belay Device Specs
- Weight: 7.four oz.
- All-metal building
- CE certified
- UIAA certified
- Rope capacity: eight.five-10.five mm (single dynamic)
- MSRP: $75
Beal Birdie: Out-of-Box Impressions
The most apparent physical attribute of the Beal Birdie is the compact size. The Birdie is very a bit smaller sized than a GRIGRI. The unit feels extremely strong, and the all-metal building bolsters this really feel. In addition, the Birdie weighs more than an ounce far more than the GRIGRI, once again adding to the dense in-hand really feel.
The device appears extremely a lot like a GRIGRI internally a modest cam beneath spring tension rotates with rope friction to pinch the cord. The metal release lever also visually functions like the GRIGRI, delivering the leverage to overcome the camming action for lowering.
Similarities to the GRIGRI for the duration of use have been undeniable. The camming action of the Birdie feels extremely comparable to that of the GRIGRI, each to the belayer and the climber. The Birdie also lowers the climber with the familiar mechanics and really feel of the GRIGRI.
The Beal Birdie is made to get rid of the kink in the rope needed for correct slack payout and lowering on a GRIGRI. The intended approach to spend out slack with a Birdie is identical to that of a tuber the brake hand pushes the rope into the device when the other hand pulls the slack out.
Positioning the brake strand of the rope parallel to the climber strand reduces friction additional to facilitate a swift rope feed. This tuber-style approach does need the belayer to preemptively feed slack to the climber in order to stop the will need for a super-swift rope feed.
The tuber-style slack feed worked in lots of instances. But when the climber was clipping bolts close to the ground, or clipping overhead, I preferred to introduce slack into the technique at the extremely final attainable moment. In these instances, or when addressing a quick roping incident, I resorted to the GRIGRI “thumbing” approach of holding the cam down to feed rope super promptly to the leader.
For me, this was about half of the time. With far more time, I’m particular I would turn out to be far more adept at feeding slack promptly with the Bridie making use of the tuber approach.
Lowering was pleasant with the Birdie the disengagement point didn’t really feel vague, and the strong metal deal with felt reassuring. And, as made, lowering didn’t need a kink in the rope, decreasing rope twisting.
The Beal Birdie is a really serious contender in the assisted-braking belay device wars. The device functions similarly to a Petzl GRIGRI, which is familiar to a lot of climbers. The Birdie does feed slack with no particular methods, but for super swift rope feeds, the GRIGRI thumbing approach is successful.
For these adept at this approach, the Birdie suffers no operational disadvantages. The all-metal building feels robust and promises durability, and it does weigh far more but is far more compact. Ultimately, the MSRP of $75 is a actual focus-getter.