Once I was actually belaying, however, I didn’t notice the inconvenience at all. In fact, the GridLock’s design is remarkably simple and does make belaying slightly easier by eliminating cross loading. It leaves the belayer with one less risk to worry about and allows them to focus more readily on the climber.
But, as I’ve said, I hardly ever find my regular belay ‘biner (Black Diamond’s Positron) cross loading. And when it does, it’s remarkably easy and quick to fix. The GridLock system didn’t improve my belaying experience enough, in my opinion, to make the inconvenience of set up seem worthwhile.
Otherwise, the GridLock does exactly what it sets out to do—it eliminates any possibility of cross-loading, especially with traditional ATCs. It’s worth nothing, however, that cross-loading is possible with a Gri-Gri.
It is very easy to get the Gri-Gri’s tight belay loop stuck next to the tab that separates it from the belay loop on a harness. That said, this issue can easily be eliminated by always attaching the small end of the carabiner to the Gri-Gri and the large end to one’s harness. (A very simple fix, but an imperative issue to pay attention to.)
So for those truly worried about cross-loading or who find themselves in that situation often, the GridLock is absolutely the solution when used correctly. Similarly, I could imagine the GridLock being a great asset for beginning climbers or those who belay extensively for single-pitch routes, as it leaves one less thing to worry about. It can also give great peace of mind when teaching new climbers how to belay.
Of course, the GridLock was designed specifically for belaying, and it serves that purpose well, so it should come as no surprise that it’s not as versatile or multi-functional as a regular carabiner. And since its design is so specialized, it absolutely has to be used properly.
Some YouTube videos have emerged, indicating that the tab separating the two loops of the GridLock breaks easily, but from what I can tell, this only occurred when people loaded them improperly. Maybe I’m one of very few people who actually read through the instructions, but it was very clear that loading the tab directly might cause it to break.
So is the added safety worth it? Just as there’s never a good reason not to wear a helmet, there may be no good reason to avoid the GridLock. Although cross-loading is rarely a concern, the consequences of a failed carabiner are potentially catastrophic. And for climbers concerned with that possibility, the GridLock absolutely achieves what it sets out to do.
Personally, I think that other carabiners, like the Positron, are more multifunctional and therefore more practical than the GridLock, particularly for the price. But for dedicated belaying or beginners, the GridLock is worth a look.