With its generous gear loops, adjustable legs and comfy fit, the ADJAMA has been a popular general purpose harness for quite a number of years. For 2018 Petzl have brought out a new verison, and Tom Ripley has been putting it through its paces for several months.
I've always been a fan of Petzl harnesses. One of my earliest childhood memories is swinging from the ceiling of Needle Sports, aged about six, in a Petzl full-body harness. Fast forward a few years and the first proper climbing harness I purchased as a teenager was a Petzl CORAX. I wore that harness nearly to destruction, retiring it when the leg loops became so furry that they looked like they were made from pile. Between then and now, I've owned four other Petzl harnesses – two SAMAs and two HIRUNDOS – so they must being doing something right for me.
I'd clocked the new ADJAMA whilst wandering around the Petzl stand at OutDoor 2017. To be honest my first impressions weren't favourable. The navy colour looked dull and I thought the face fabric looked vaguely like denim and wouldn't be very durable. I also thought it made it look cheap, compared to the textured fabric used on the previous generation of ADJAMA.
Needless to say I wasn't that excited when UKC asked me to review it. However on receiving the harness I was pleasantly surprised. Firstly it wasn't quite as denim-like as I'd first thought and secondly it fitted me well and does everything a modern harness should. The lesson is clearly not to leap to premature judgements!
The ADJAMA is a classic sit harness, with padded waist and leg loops, both of which are adjustable via speed buckles. Buckles of this type are pretty much standard on all harnesses now and I'm a big fan - mainly because whether or not my harness is doubled back properly is the last thing I want to be worrying about when I'm pumped and scared, mid-crux. As with most products, it is the little details that make the difference.
Like many other harnesses the ADJAMA features elastic retaining loops. These prevent any excess webbing from annoyingly dangling around, getting in one's way. The ones on the ADJAMA are pretty substantial and I'm yet to have them work their way free. That's a nice contrast to another harness I recently used, where it felt like I was having to re-tuck the excess webbing every other pitch. Another little detail that has impressed me is the ADJAMA's reassuringly burly belay loop and reinforced tie-in point. This is light grey coloured, which contrasts nicely with ropes of nearly every colour, allowing you to clearly see where you are tying into.
The previous version of this harness had a fairly standard four gear loops, but the new model boasts a more generous five. You get a big stiffened wedge shaped front loop on each side, shaped so that gear is always positioned towards the front for easy unclipping. In addition there are three big soft gear loops - one centralised at the back of the harness and another on each side. These slightly overlap with the front loops. There is also a small, centralised rear clip-in loop, which I use to clip my prussic loops and approach shoes on with (I have also used it to attach tag and haul lines, whilst big wall climbing). Some folk seem to love them, but I'm not a massive fan of the centralised rear gear loop, having climbed for years without one. I find that stuff racked directly behind you is tricky to access and impossible to see. I also don't like the idea of landing on it in the event of a deck out. However your gear does have to hang somewhere, and if your other four loops are already full to bursting then the rear loop does give you an overspill option. For those times when you're carrying a really big rack that's clearly an advantage, and helps make the ADJAMA a harness for almost every occasion.
Lastly another nice detail is the leg elastics. These can be easily removed thanks to a mini buckle. More important however is their width: Petzl have opted for nice fat elastic, rather than the super skinny stuff that some brands go for. In my experience thinner elastics stretch out quicker, meaning they can sag annoyingly, whilst the slightly fatter (4mm rather than 2mm) elastics seem to last a lot longer.
Comfort and durability
My initial impression, before actually having used the harness, was that the padding, particularly on the leg loops, would be insubstantial and the face fabric would pill quickly. Having now used this harness for several months I'm happy to admit that I couldn't have been more wrong. I've mainly used the harness for multi pitch climbing, including some aid climbing and several long hanging belays, and have been very pleased with how comfy it is to hang in. I'm particularly impressed that after three weeks of dragging the harness up Yosemite granite, back in autumn 2017, it still looks brand new.
Weight and Sizing
According to my digital kitchen scales (surely the gear reviewer's best friend) my medium ADJAMA weighs 460g (oddly, Petzl say 495g in size M). This is a modest weight increase over the previous model that UKC reviewed in 2016 (441g size L). Whilst the new version is not exactly light by today's standards, it is still hardly what you'd call heavy when you consider the amount and depth of padding, number of gear loops and buckles, and general quality workmanship. I have a 32" waist and larger than average legs (though not quite as big as Rob Greenwood's) and a size medium fits me perfectly; four sizes are available, so there ought to be an ADJAMA for most adult male users. For women, the alternative is the very similar-looking LUNA.
Thanks to the wider than usual elastic stoppers on the leg loops I don't need to adjust the leg loops each time I put the harness on, which is perfect for me as I tend to prefer harnesses with fixed leg loops. The option of adjustment on the leg loops does however open the ADJAMA up to year-round use, since they can accommodate extra winter layers when necessary.
The Petzl ADJAMA is a very comfy, well-featured climbing harness. Covering all your needs in one model, it firmly sits in the jack-of-all-trades category. Petzl's years of experience in harness design really shine through and there are no minor design flaws or annoying niggles here. It would be the perfect harness for the UK based all round climber, capable of doing everything from alpinism and Scottish winter to multi pitch mountain trad and even big walling; but it's probably best suited to days at the crag, which let's face it is what most of us do most of anyway. With a pretty fair price of £75 I predict it will become very popular with everyone from beginners purchasing their first harness, through to seasoned climbers who want one model for a bit of everything.
Climbing and mountaineering harness with adjustable leg loops, for single and multi-pitch climbing. Designed for technical mountaineering, trad climbing and multi-pitch climbing, the ADJAMA harness is equipped with adjustable leg loops that adapt to all climbers in all seasons. The padded leg loops and waistbelt ensure maximum comfort without hindering freedom of movement. The five equipment loops carry all the equipment required for progression on ice or rock, and make it easily accessible during the activity.
- Price: £75
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL (for men - women's alternative is the LUNA)
- Weight: 460g size M (our measure)
- Padded waistbelt and leg loops
- Wide waistbelt provides comfortable positioning
- ENDOFRAME Technology construction allows excellent weight distribution
- Two very large rigid equipment loops in front for transporting a lot of gear and for easy clipping and unclipping of carabiners
- Two rear equipment loops are flexible, for bringing gear to the front and for comfort when carrying a backpack
- One large center rear equipment loop for carrying belay station gear, shoes or special equipment
- Compatible with the CARITOOL EVO tool holder
- One rear loop for trail line
- Adaptability: leg loops adjustable with DoubleBack buckles, to adapt to different body types and to seasonal clothing
For more info see petzl.com
Tom Ripley has been climbing for over fifteen years in both the UK and abroad: personal highlights include an ascent of Denali's Cassin Ridge and first ascents in Patagonia and Peru. Tom is dedicated to sharing his obsession for all types of climbing through his work as a climbing instructor and guide.
Currently, Tom is part way through the British Mountain Guides' rigorous training scheme. And, as a trainee guide, he is qualified to guide and instruct rock climbing and mountaineering throughout the UK.
Whether you are interested in making the transition from indoor climbing to real rock, working towards your first lead climbs, gaining self-rescue skills, or climbing a classic route that has so far eluded you, Tom can help you achieve your goal. Staying safe, patience and adventure are always a priority. He can be contacted through his UKC profile.