I eyed up the final moves ... only a tricky heel hook, slap for a rounded edge and fine transfer of forces from heel to fingers were between me and the chain. I couldn't face the prospect of failure, of having to psyche up again and fight through all the moves that lay below. Luckily I had my secret weapon to help me pull through and guarantee success and glory. More powerful than campus training, more technical than the space shuttle and sexier than Keira Knightley: my new Mammut Zephyr ultralight harness...
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OK - that might be a bit over the top but it is the best sport harness I have used, and it is sexier than Mick Ryan, and he used to be really good looking when he was younger. Billed as ultralight (the harness not Mick), it weighs in at 250g: that's less than seven Nutrigrain bars. While harness weight probably doesn't make too much difference in terms of the physics of it all at my lowly grade, it definitely helps in the physiological department. On my top-of-route crux, Mammut Zephyr on, with its comfortable fit due to sensible sizing for my sensible UK frame, and elastic adjusted leg loops that hug the thighs nicely (back to Keira again) I felt lighter – and as Jerry says that's the difference. So I latched the top hold shouting like Sharma and sent the route.
"...It really is unnervingly comfy..."
Phil Baker, wearing the Mammut Zephyr harness, redpointing Incapacity Benefit 7a+, The Cornice (Water-cum-Jolly)
UKC Gear, Sep 2011
© Mick Ryan UKC/UKH
Other things I like – well the '3 dimensional split web technology' may sound like something out of The Matrix, but to me and you it translates to 'can wear it all day, not get sweaty and can forget to take it off when packing the rucksack at the end of the session'. It really is unnervingly comfy... and did I mention that it was light too?
The gear loops consist of two plastic ones at the front, with very thin nylon loops at the back. Clearly the business end, the front pair are designed to move draws to the front as you remove one each time. Works well on vertical ground but the theory falls down on overhanging stuff – still not much of that on sports routes ... But they work as well as any others I've used. The main belt fastener is thin (again) nylon through a fairly traditional (but thin) buckle system, all padded from the climber's waist by The Matrix inspired 3D thingy. And it works ... I wouldn't recommend it for thrashing up grit, granite or gabbro, as it wouldn't last long but for styling it out on limestone (or even the indoor plastic stuff) it's great. It might even help you stay within your Ryanair baggage allowance.
Colours – Mammut have gone for largely grey with a bit of orange (Mammut – orange? Whatever next?)
So there you go – whilst it is difficult to get enthusiastic about something as functional as a climbing harness, the Zephyr has floated my boat against expectations. Who knows – broccoli and maybe some light training next?
Extremely light high-end sports climbing harness for high performance on the rocks in a modern sporty design. Innovative split webbing technology and high-strength Dyneema webbing guarantee maximum comfort and freedom of movement, together with a very low weight. The large ventilation openings make the harness extremely breathable. Featuring great attention to detail, such as the new aluminium Slide-Block buckle, the design of the gear loops and the drop-seat buckle.
Mammut Zephyr Harness
About Phil Baker
Phil has been climbing and caving for 34 years. He has climbed extensively in the UK, Alps and America including bigs walls in Yosemite, new ice routes in Norway and Denali in Alaska. His caving experinece is equally varied, with over 30 caves descended in the Vercors (including the Gouffre Berger three times) and new caves in Albania down to -450m. Phil holds the highest UK awards in climbing and caving and is an assessor for national climbing and caving awards. He currently runs the outdoor education servcice for a local authority, is married with two kids and his favourite food is pizza.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Phil Baker: