When you're pushing your sport climbing grade anything you can do to save weight could in theory make a difference. Just as you'd drop the belay device from your harness, have you considered the weight of the harness itself? Until now I've always used a single harness for everything, from long winter routes to single pitch trad and sport, so when I got the new CAMP Flash to test I was very keen to get my first routes in using an 'ultralight' harness.
Comfort / Fit
As ultralight sport climbing harnesses go, the Flash is exceptionally comfortable. It manages this by providing support across a wide area, but thanks to its webbing construction it does this without adding excess weight. The waist and leg loops are equipped with 3mm foam padding, a decent amount of cushioning which is pretty much essential when you're sitting around working those long sport projects.
The leg loops on the Flash are a fixed size with an elasticated strip giving them a snug fit. As someone with small thighs, I've always had to avoid harnesses with fixed leg loop sizes, as every one I've tried has always been far too big for me. This is the first harness I've found where the waist and leg loop sizing seem to be proportioned correctly, at least for me.
The rear straps that hold the leg loops in position to the main waist belt are non-adjustable; I think this is probably for weight saving reasons. This didn't bother me too much as they seemed to be the correct length, however this probably won't be the case for everyone, so do try it on before you buy it.
Weight / Size
CAMP have really managed to get the Flash down to an incredibly light weight. At 236g (size small) this has been the lightest harness I've worn by a long shot, comparing well with roughly equivalent models from other manufacturers (the Petzl Hirundos for instance weighs 270g in size small). I've found myself looking down a few times to check it's sitting on me correctly! It is a strange sensation climbing with a harness you can hardly feel.
One of my favorite things about this harness is its pack size - it's tiny! Not far off the size of a mobile phone, and aside from this being novel, it would probably fit in your pocket. I'm considering trying this thing out for easy winter routes. A small pack size and almost no weight is a winning combination for easy winter routes when you're looking to go light and fast.
Aside from fit, good gear loops are often the next thing I look for in a harness. The Flash comes with a four gear loops and one chalk bag loop. The front two are molded around what feels like a hard plastic frame, excellent for racking and quickly accessing quickdraws. The rear two don't feature the molding, are softer and hang slightly lower. When sport climbing I very rarely use the rear gear loops - the front two easily held 9 quickdraws each, so this didn't fuss me too much. However it's true that the back pair don't feel quite as nice as the front two. I assume the lack of molding on the rear loops is to further reduce the weight of the harness. Personally I'd like to see the molding on these too, even if it's just to keep a consistent feel.
If you're looking for a harness that ensures you are carrying the absolute minimum up the wall, then the Flash is for you. I can't help thinking it looks like a car seat belt due to the predominantly black material on the outside of the waist and leg loops. However its simple design is comfortable for working those long sport projects without excess weight and bulk, and that's what matters. The front gear loops are great, but rear molded gear loops would be nice; however for sport climbing this is a minor detail. An all round good harness, and at £55, pretty good value.
What CAMP say:
An entirely new harness concept designed for sport climbing at the highest level. The new hyperlight Flash features innovative load webbing with structural longitudinal threads that allow for a wider cross section for greater support without the added weight of traditional webbing. The construction is similar to the Alp Racing harness that has already taken the ski mountaineering world by storm as the lightest, most supportive and most packable downhill harness on the market. With the Flash, we have also integrated 3 mm of padding adhered directly to the webbing for increased comfort. The gear loops are designed for optimal performance on challenging sport routes with the front loops ergonomically molded for the fastest access to quick draws, the rear loops are softer and lay flat.
- Superlight and comfortable
- Innovative load webbing construction
- Integrated 3 mm padding on the waist and legs
- Auto-locking buckle on the waist
- 4 gear loops
- Chalk bag loop
- Weight: 236g (size S)
For more info see www.camp.it