The Puma is DMM's 'first female-specific harness' (well, there was a DMM Electra in the 90s, but it's no longer available). Are they going to expand the range for women? They might. The first range of DMM harnesses - Electra, Zeus, Pegasus - was discontinued when sales lost impetus and a decision was made to concentrate on hardware. Now things have changed though, and DMM's harness market is growing well. It all depends how well the Puma (launched last December) is received...
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Ravens Tor in Dovedale How is it 'female-specific?'
The Puma has the same adjustable leg loops, six diagonally slanted gear loops, one rear gear loop, floating waist belt and twin Hypalon ice screw racking system (more on these later), as the flagship, do-everything, unisex DMM Renegade. The only really obvious difference is the colour. Is the Puma purple because it's not too girly, but a bit girly?
"Spot on, and it's been a popular choice according to the feedback we have received," DMM's Product Developer Graham Desroy told me. There are other differences though, of course.
If you've studied the female form, or own one, you'll know there's usually a bigger difference between women's hip and waist measurements than men's, and their rise (waist to crotch) is longer.
The Puma's dimensions suggest women have fatter thighs than men too, but Graham says "Absolutely not – women have a slimmer waist to leg ratio!" The larger leg loops means the Puma is slightly heavier than the corresponding size Renegade though (see size chart below).
So, basically the Puma offers ladies better comfort and fit; those size XS to M, that is. The Puma XS waist cinches to 23 inches at its minimum, so it can fit girls down to around age 11, and DMM are currently sampling an XXS size. Apparently, though, they've found the unisex Renegade fits the dimensions of most Large women fine.
What's the Puma like?
The Puma arrived in February, and I took it on some winter trips abroad. You want your gear to work perfectly when your daily breaks are a quick choice between a wee, a snack or adjusting layers while fiddling with ski skins/crampons/harness and making sure your gloves don't blow away or fill with snow. While I vividly remember a pair of ski skins that kept biting my freezing fingers, the Puma wasn't fiddly to adjust, it wasn't heavy or restricting, it didn't absorb snow or hog space in my pack, there were no uncomfortable rubs when worn with a rucksack all day. It attracted no unladylike words. It just worked.
Thinking about it, the Puma has since provided plenty of unobtrusive comfort and support on rock, too. Supportively providing seven, spacious gear loops, so I can look down and clearly see neat rows of protection spread out when scared on lead; offering comfort if I fall frustrated off the crux of steep and hard routes on second (enough padding without being bulky); and everything in between. It's ergonomically shaped for gymnastic movement and, while its feature set is overkill for sport routes, it's lightweight enough for those wanting one harness for everything.
The Puma has plenty of well thought out features for all seasons...
I asked DMM what's special about the Puma waist band construction:
Puma uses two methods of load distribution across the padding. In the waist we incorporate an internal lumbar support system within the pad - a plastic load speader in simple terms, whereas in the legs we use structural binding on the edge pads which directs the forces to the outside of the leg pads resulting in an even spread over the whole pad. The padding on the Puma is, as on the Renegade, Maverick and Viper harnesses, a laminate of an outer durable fabric, an internal shock absorbing closed cell foam, and an inner nylon mesh face fabric for comfort. It's always important to do a suspension test in a variety of harnesses in the shop before purchase - don't just hang free in it, but also lean out in it as this is the more common belaying position and will load the waist more.
Graham Desroy, DMM Product Developer
Other little details
MORE INFO: On the DMM Website
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