UKC

Edelrid Gambit Harness Review

At first glance the Edelrid Gambit looks much like any other all-rounder harness, and to begin with I was wondering what I'd be able to write. It has everything one would expect from a modern do-it-all harness: four gear loops, adjustable leg loops and single waist buckle. However in use I've found it more than averagely comfortable - particularly on long belays. What's more, it is one of the lighter all-round, properly padded, fully adjustable harnesses on the market. The padding on the waist belt and leg loops is low in bulk, and it folds down really small when not in use. If you were only going to buy one harness for everything from sport climbing to the Alps, this would be a good choice.

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Tom on The Assassin
© Ollie Burrows

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On The Skull
© Hamish Dunn

Comfort

The first thing I noticed about the Edelrid Gambit is how comfortable it is to hang in. The waist belt and leg loops are constructed from HDPE (High-Density PolyEthylene) webbing that spreads the load and allegedly ensures maximum breathability without adding bulk. Edelrid call this 3D-Vent Lite technology - and it is certainly light, though I can't really vouch for the 'vent' bit, since the Gambit isn't noticeably more or less sweaty than any other harness I have used.

Front, 116 kb

Side, 116 kb

Rear, 106 kb

Having used similar harnesses with a similar depth of padding from Arc'teryx, Black Diamond and Petzl in recent years, I was really impressed with how comfy the Gambit was, particularly on the legs loops. In the past when I've been hanging on an airy stance, watching the ropes inch through my belay plate as my mate commits herself to the lead of her life, the leg loops on my harness have always been the first thing to dig in. Not so with the Edelrid Gambit, which I have found to be comfy for hours at a time.

The Gambit comes with adjustable leg loops. I'm not a big fan of these, mainly because fixed leg loops are generally cheaper, lighter and simpler. The Gambit is the first harness I have used with adjustable legs for nearly a decade. Saying that though I have barely noticed that the harness has adjustable leg loops, other than the excess webbing which annoyingly hangs down. The good news for fixed leg loop lovers like myself is that Edelrid produce the Ace which is a fixed leg version of the Gambit - and it comes in an ace lime green colour.

Sizing

One of the most innovative things about the Edelrid Gambit is its unisex-friendly sizing. As well as being available in the normal sizes - small, medium and large - in size small and medium it is also possible to purchase the harness with bigger leg loops. Having spent much of my life walking up and down hills with a heavy bag I have a pretty big set of thighs. Mindful of this I requested the Gambit with a medium waist and large leg loops. It turns out my thighs aren't too out of proportion and I'd have been fine with the standard size. Still it is a really useful option, especially for ex climbers who now mainly cycle!

Tom giving his thighs (and the rest) a workout on Colossus, 212 kb
Tom giving his thighs (and the rest) a workout on Colossus
© Heather Florence

Features

The buckles on the harness are of the auto locking variety, rather than traditional thread back buckles. Most manufactures seem to favour auto locking buckles these days and personally I'm a big fan of these as they mean I have one less thing to worry about when I'm pumped and scared. A slight niggle with the Gambit is that the little loops designed for retaining excess webbing from both the leg loops and waist belts aren't very good. The spare webbing quickly wriggles free and annoyingly hangs down, which both gets in the way and doesn't really look the part.

The style and positioning of the gear loops initially put me off. They're a little too far back for my liking, meaning it is sometimes tricky to see gear that is racked on the back of the rear loops. That said I always rack infrequently used pieces (big cams, hexes, belay stuff) on my rear loops, and I am yet to fail to get up a climb because I haven't been able to access them.

There's enough space on the gear loops to fit everything you'll need for big adventurous routes, 152 kb
There's enough space on the gear loops to fit everything you'll need for big adventurous routes
© Tom Ripley

Unlike many harnesses I've used in recent years, which feature four normal sized gear loops, the Edelrid Gambit effectively has two massive gear loops on each sized with a central divider that splits them in two. To begin with I wasn't convinced by this design (I guess I'm slightly set in my ways) but in reality I've found them no different to four standard gear loops. To boost the Gambit's year-round credentials, there is also the option to fit a plastic ice screw clipper in between the gear loops.

I like to carry (and place) a lot of gear; thankfully there is easily enough space on the Gambit's gear loops to fit everything you'll need for a big adventurous sea cliff route, at your limit. (Top tip: if you are carrying a double set of cams try clipping cams of the same size to each other. This is known as Yosemite Racking and is a great way to free up space on your harness).

Thankfully there is no central rear gear loop, but there is a non-load-bearing haul loop on the back of the harness. This is ideal for clipping a tag or haul line to. Some climbers also like to clip an old krab with their prussiks on here. I'm not convinced this is as a good idea, as having a piece of metal directly under your spine could have disastrous consequences in the event of a deck out.

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Tie-in points and belay loop
© Tom Ripley

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Slide lock buckles on waist and leg loops
© Tom Ripley

Weight

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Gambit is its weight, or rather lack of it. According to my digital kitchen scales my size medium (with large leg loops) comes in at 340g, substantially heavier than Edelrid's advertised weight of 298g but still a fair bit lighter than Arc'teryx's AR-395a or the Petzl Adjama, two of its close competitors. Bearing in mind that you get adjustable legs and comfortable padding, Edelrid have done well to keep the weight so low. Most equivalent models weigh upwards of 400g.

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Using the Gambit on Rap
© Nikki Somers

Summary

In conclusion, the Edelrid Gambit is a very comfortable and compact harness. Weighing just 340g (+/- a bit, depending on the size) it is one of the lightest fully featured, fully adjustable harnesses on the market. Although the gear loops are positioned slightly further back than I would ideally like, and the excess webbing doesn't always stay put, I am yet to fail on a route because of these things. With an RRP of £130 it has the added bonus of making your wallet substantially lighter too. At easily twice the price of some rivals, and even slightly more than the Arc'teryx AR-395a, its cost is the only substantial criticism. Aside from this, the Gambit is an excellent harness for the weight conscious all-round climber.

Edelrid say:

Super-light sport and alpine harness with adjustable leg loops. Our new 3D-Vent Lite technology combines minimal weight and small pack size with superior comfort to wear, climb or hang in.

  • 15 mm Slide Block buckle on waistbelt for secure and comfortable fit
  • Adjustable leg loops with elasticated mesh inserts for optimal and flexibility
  • 4 symmetric gear loops
  • Attachment options for ice screw clips
  • Chalk bag attachment loop
  • The manufacturing in Germany allows individual fit due to the combination of different hipbelt and leg loop sizes
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Sizes: S,M, L
  • Price: £130

For more info see: edelrid.de

Edelrid Gambit prod shot, 238 kb



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