UKC

GROUP TEST: All Round Harnesses

Since most climbers are all-rounders, there's a lot to be said for a harness that does a bit of everything too. From sunny bolt clipping, through trad crags and mountain multi-pitch, to Scottish winter and the occasional Alpine foray, if you are only buying one harness to cover every base then it needs to be a solid all-rounder.

Features to look for include:

  • Adjustable legs to accommodate everything from summer shorts to thick winter layers
  • Sufficient gear loops for big sea cliff and mountain trad racks
  • Enough padding and/or support for comfy abseiling, hanging belays and bobbing around on sport climbs
  • A fit that you can happily walk in (think Cuillin Ridge)
  • Attachment points for ice screw clips

Over spring and summer 2016 the UKC test team has put ten all-round harnesses through their paces. Since there are differences between them which will best suit different users, we have not awarded a best-in-test; the ratings should make a quick comparison easy.

Overall summary

Make and model

Ratings

C.A.M.P

Jasper CR4

Price: £50

CAMP Jasper product shot, 137 kb

Fit and comfort

5 / 5

Features

3 / 5

Weight

3 / 5

Build quality

4 / 5

Value

5 / 5

Overall

4 / 5

Edelrid

Orion

Price: £100

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

Orion (RRP: £100) – a comfortable all-round harness, that’s especially suited to mountaineering thanks to its adjustable , 108 kb

Fit and comfort

5 / 5

Features

5 / 5

Weight

3 / 5

Build quality

5 / 5

Value

3 / 5

Overall

4.5 / 5

DMM

Mithril

Price: £65

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

DMM Mithril product shot, 111 kb

Fit and comfort

5 / 5

Features

4.5 / 5

Weight

5 / 5

Build quality

2.5 / 5

Value

5 / 5

Overall

4.5 / 5

Petzl

Adjama

Price: £70

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

Petzl Adjama product shot, 169 kb

Fit and comfort

5 / 5

Features

3 / 5

Weight

3 / 5

Build quality

5 / 5

Value

4.5 / 5

Overall

4.5 / 5

Mammut

Togir 3 Slide

Price: £65

Mammut Togir Slide 3 harness product shot, 77 kb

Fit and comfort

3.5 / 5

Features

3 / 5

Weight

3 / 5

Build quality

4 / 5

Value

4 / 5

Overall

3.5 / 5

Wild Country

Syncro

Price: £79.99

WC Syncro product shot, 144 kb

Fit and comfort

5 / 5

Features

2.5 / 5

Weight

2 / 5

Build quality

2.5 / 5

Value

3 / 5

Overall

3 / 5

Climbing Technology

Wall Harness

Price: £55

Wall Harness, 53 kb

Fit and comfort

2 / 5

Features

3 / 5

Weight

5 / 5

Build quality

2 / 5

Value

3 / 5

Overall

3 / 5

Edelweiss

Strato

Price: £60

Edelweiss Strato product shot, 179 kb

Fit and comfort

2.5 / 5

Features

2.5 / 5

Weight

3 / 5

Build quality

2 / 5

Value

2.5 / 5

Overall

2.5 / 5

Grivel

Ares

Price: £70

Grivel Ares product shot, 138 kb

Fit and comfort

1 / 5

Features

2.5 / 5

Weight

4 / 5

Build quality

3.5 / 5

Value

2.5 / 5

Overall

2.5 / 5

Arc'teryx

AR-395a

Price: £120

Arc'teryx AR395a product shot, 42 kb

Fit and comfort

5 / 5

Features

5 / 5

Weight

3 / 5

Build quality

5 / 5

Value

1.5 / 5

Overall

4 / 5

Black Diamond

Momentum

Price: £45

Best in Test Good Value Small, 5 kb

Momentum, 25 kb

Fit and comfort

4 / 5

Features

4 / 5

Weight

4.5 / 5

Build quality

3.5 / 5

Value

5 / 5

Overall

4 / 5

CAMP Jasper CR4 £50

Martin McKenna testing the CAMP Jasper CR4 at Dunkeld Upper Cave Crag, 221 kb
Martin McKenna testing the CAMP Jasper CR4 at Dunkeld Upper Cave Crag
© Hugh Simons

Fit and comfort

The Jasper CR4 is a great all day comfort harness. Its wide back, generous leg loop area and thermoformed padding eliminate any digging in when it comes to sitting around on hanging belays for hours on end - good credentials for long mountain days.

Two waist belt buckles enable the Jasper to be adjusted over a large range - handy for putting the harness on while wearing multiple layers, and for ensuring that your gear loops stay well centred. The leg loops are adjusted with a buckle on each. All extra buckle straps are able to be neatly tucked at the side of the harness, and all have plenty of play to accommodate thick winter layers if necessary. Finally there are two elasticated adjustable straps connecting the waist and leg loops, allowing the harness to be configured to sit correctly when stepping into it and when it’s on. These are optionally removable.

Leg Loops and Waist Belt, 186 kb
Leg Loops and Waist Belt
© Hugh Simons
Gear Loops, 223 kb
Gear Loops
© Hugh Simons

Features

The Jasper has four gear loops, the front two (which we like) are moulded, while the rear two (which we don't) hang flat. CAMP say this is to keep the harness profile low (when wearing a rucksack for instance), but we feel it’s a compromising solution for such an important part of a trad harness. We've found that when racking large amounts of gear on the rear loops, items of gear began to stack on top of each other. Another issue with this design of gear loop is that the gear constantly wants to fall into the middle of the gear loop. This makes racking an item in the correct position on your harness a degree harder, especially if you select the wrong bit of kit mid route and want to place it back on the gear loop in the correct position (we like to stay relatively organised while climbing).

There is space on each side for ice screw holders and a rear gear loop, plus a rear haul loop.

On the outer side of the waist and leg loops CAMP have added an excellent abrasion resistant material, so if you’re partial to some good old thrutching or shuffling, this harness will stand up to the job.

Summary

CAMP have created a great harness that is almost perfect for summer mountain trad, winter or alpine climbing, providing all day comfort, a good buckling system and bombproof outer material around the waist and leg loops. For a harness of this build quality, the £50 price tag is superb value. The only thing letting it down are the rear gear loops - a pretty crucial part unfortunately.

CAMP Jasper product shot, 137 kb
  • Sizes: XS-M and M-XL
  • Weight: 435g (Size XS-M)
  • 2 buckles on the waist for fast and easy adjustment
  • Adjustable legs with innovative hidden webbing system
  • Thermoformed EVA padding (6mm on the waist, 4mm on the legs)
  • New super strong fabric on waist and legs
  • Elastic straps that connect the waist and legs are detachable with steel hooks
  • 20mm belay loop
  • 4 gear loops are optimized for fast access to gear
  • 2 integrated slots for Hub racking carabiners
  • Haul loop

CAMP say:

The new Jasper CR4 is a big rig in a sleek package. The completely new design delivers the optimal blend of lightweight, comfort and functionality for long days in the mountains. The waist belt features more coverage than other two-buckle harnesses and the burly exterior fabric delivers a high level of durability to help protect the harness when the climbing gets rowdy. Double buckles on the waist allow the harness to be perfectly centered and make it easy to transition across climbing styles and seasons that require different layering systems. The leg loops are also fully adjustable and feature a special system that keeps the excess tail hidden and protected while climbing. Auto-locking steel buckles on the waist and legs are easy to operate and the 4 gear loops are designed for optimal functionality.

For more info see: camp.it

Edelrid Orion £100

Rob Greenwood using the Edelrid Orion on The Guillotine at Stanage, 198 kb
Rob Greenwood using the Edelrid Orion on The Guillotine at Stanage
© UKC Gear
Fit and comfort

The Orion is without doubt an exceptionally comfortable harness. It features a wide tape around the waistbelt to distribute load and further evens weight distribution through use of five separate strands running throughout. As if this weren't enough, the 3D design contours around the body's shape, curving down and out around the hips and upwards and outwards around the legs. Ventilation is provided by the many air channels throughout the harness, but due to the width of the tape there is no denying that you will get a little bit sweatier than a more slimline harness.

The harness features a single buckle on the front of the waisbelt and fully adjustable leg-loops, therefore making it an ideal choice for those mountaineering types who have larger than average legs. The sizing, we would say, is a little bit on the large side (i.e. Medium felt like Medium Plus) so if you're between sizes it would be worth trying before buying.

The waistbelt of the Edelrid Orion, 157 kb
The legloops of the Edelrid Orion, 227 kb

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kbFeatures

The harness features a standard four gear loops - as is the European way - which are nice and stiff (Ed. nobody likes a saggy gear loop) and space for ice clippers, making it - alongside the adjustable leg-loops mentioned earlier - suitable for winter and alpine climbing. There is also a neat retainer located in the waistbelt in which you can tuck the spare webbing once the harness has been tightened, and an abrasion protector around the tie in point for further durability.

Summary

The superb build quality and exceptional comfort comes at a price, with the Orion being the second most expensive harness in this review. That said, at £100 it is by no means the most expensive harness out on the market and we would argue that it justifies its price tag amply through the tremendous build quality. If you're going to be spending all day in a harness, be that in summer or winter, this one would be hard to beat.

Orion (RRP: £100) – a comfortable all-round harness, that’s especially suited to mountaineering thanks to its adjustable , 108 kb

Edelrid say:
A very comfortable all-round harness with 3D-Vent Technology and adjustable leg loops for sport climbing and mountaineering.

  • Sizes: S, M, L (Men's) The direct women's equivalent is the Solaris harness, sizes XS, S, M
  • Weight: 423g (Size M)
  • 3D-Vent Technology: unparalleled fit and wear comfort via 3D construction, optimal pressure distribution and maximum air permeability
  • 15 mm Slide Block buckle on waistbelt for secure and comfortable fit
  • 15 mm Slide Block buckle on waistbelt for secure and comfortable fit
  • Abrasion protector for extra durability at tie-in point
  • 4 symmetric fixed gear loops for perfect organisation, 2 attachment options for ice screw clips, chalk bag loop


To find out more visit the Edelrid Website.

DMM Mithril £65

DMM Mithril on Marcher Lord, 87 kb
DMM Mithril on Marcher Lord
© Dave Saunders
DMM Mithril at Kyloe, 149 kb
DMM Mithril at Kyloe
© Dan Bailey

Fit and comfort

With its thick foam padding the Mithril is one of the comfiest of the harnesses on test, especially if you're spending any time hanging around in it. Yet despite the cushioned feel it's pretty lightweight; and thanks to the many ventilation holes in the padding the Mithril is surprisingly cool in hot weather too. The leg loops are adjustable to accommodate multiple winter layers, but we've found the legs are cut on the generous side compared to the waist - something that climbers with thinner thighs might want to bear in mind. While the belay loop is perhaps the longest in this review - it really is big - we've found the rise between the legs and the waist ever so slightly on the short side for us. That's a fit thing, not an objective criticism.

Plenty of padding and good roomy gear loops, 166 kb
Plenty of padding and good roomy gear loops
© Dan Bailey

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kbFeatures

The Mithril's four main gear loops are a decent size for trad racks, and well placed for easy gear retrieval. At first glance these stiffened loops look a bit unsophisticated in shape, but in use it turns out that they're aligned so that gear hangs just where you want it in terms of keeping out of the way without being inaccessible - towards the rear of the front loop, and to the front of the rear loop (if that makes sense). In a nod to its winter compatibility there's one ice clipper point on each side, which is probably enough for most of us. In addition you get a small-ish rear loop that's big enough for your belay tackle and prussiks (if you're carrying them).

Summary

Offering plenty of padding without being hot, the Mithril achieves a great level of comfort. Despite being so well cushioned it still manages to be the second lightest harness on test. It is fairly priced, and it has all the features you need in a four-season all-rounder. Our one criticism is that there's a tacky plasticy feel to the fabric used to cover the padding, which does unfortunately give the finish a bit of a cheap feel.

DMM Mithril product shot, 111 kb

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL (men) Women's equivalent is the Venture
  • Weight: 381g (size L)
  • Adjustable leg loops allow fine tuning of fit to cater to layering systems
  • Lightweight, supple construction results in excellent flexibility and comfort
  • Ventilated internal padding for breathability
  • Small pack size
  • Streamlined racking system: four gear loops, two Vault slots and an essentials loop provide all season capability
  • Price: £65

DMM Say:

The Mithril is the perfect lightweight all-rounder. Sharing the same lightweight construction as the Maverick 2, but the addition of adjustable legs opens up the possibilities to use this harness all year round. In the depths of winter it will be seen at the wall and on the plastered winter crags and cascades when the temperature plummets. When spring arrives and summer follows, the Mithril will deal effectively with trad and sport, single and multi-pitch, and do it exceptionally well. A true lightweight all season harness.

For more info see: dmmclimbing.com

Petzl Adjama £70

Petzl Adjama at Gouther Crag, 161 kb
Petzl Adjama at Gouther Crag
© Rob Greenwood

Fit and comfort

By the standards of this review the Adjama is about middle of the road for padding. For all-round use it has what we'd regard as a sensible amount of cushioning, sufficiently comfy when dangling around on abseils or working sport routes without ending up too bulky or heavy. The waistbelt and leg loops are fairly broad for load-spreading support, and well-sculpted to give a good form-hugging fit. The legs are adjustable, but there's only one buckle at the waist, and as a result combined with the positioning of the gear loops (more on them below) we find it a little harder to keep everything well centred on the Adjama than some of the twin buckle designs on test. That said, there's plenty of space to fit it over bulky winter layers, so the Adjama certainly feels like a good 4-season all-rounder. We've used an older version of the Adjama year-round for several seasons, and liked the way that the load bearing webbing ran around the edges of the waistbelt, leaving most of it as an air-permeable mesh. In the current Adjama, Petzl still use this 'endoframe' construction, but have filled the gaps with solid padding. As a result it does feel sweatier in hot weather, but also a little more luxurious.

We find the gear loops are a little far towards the rear, 144 kb
We find the gear loops are a little far towards the rear
© Dan Bailey

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kbFeatures

Four good-sized gear loops offer plenty of racking space for most uses. The front two are moulded to keep gear hanging nicely, and work well. But while they are a fair bit larger the rear two loops are less convincing, since with no structure to give them shape the gear tends to bunch in the middle of the loop and it feels just a little more fiddly to extract the correct piece when you're on the lead. Petzl's logic is that soft rear loops feel less intrusive under a rucksack, but for a true all-round harness we reckon that this benefit is outweighed by the drawback. It's a relatively minor issue, and partly hinges on the fit for each individual, but on the Adjama we also find the gear loops are positioned a little further to the rear than we'd prefer. Compared with may others on test the front two sit a couple of centimetres further back, enough to make a noticeable difference in use, while the rear loops run so far around that they almost meet at the back. This makes gear selection slightly more awkward, particularly if you're also wearing a rucksack. In addition there's a small rear loop for belay stuff. As a harness for all seasons the Adjama also sports a single slot on each side for ice screw clippers, and these feel secure and effective in use.

Summary

Though relatively heavy by the standards of this review the Adjama feels very well made. At £70 it's not the cheapest, but for the quality of harness you're getting we think it's good value. The Adjama is also well-padded and supportive, making it a genuinely effective all-rounder for everything from sport climbing to winter mountaineering. Our one criticism is the gear loops - the rear pair are too floppy, and all four are positioned a little further back than we'd like.

Petzl Adjama product shot, 169 kb

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL (men) Women's version is the Sama
  • Weight: 441g (size L)
  • ENDOFRAME Technology construction guarantees excellent weight distribution for optimal comfort: waistbelt and leg loops with doubled straps; waistbelt wider on the sides
  • No compression points or chafing zones on the waistbelt because there are no crossing seams
  • DoubleBack Light buckles allow quick and easy adjustment of the waistbelt and leg loops
  • Tie-in points: high-tenacity polyethylene for improved resistance to rope friction; red wear indicator on lower bridge to easily identify when the harness should be retired
  • Adjustable leg loops allow the harness to be donned while wearing mountaineering or ski boots, or to easily adjust the size for different clothing
  • Four equipment loops: two rigid ones in front for quick and easy access to equipment and two flexible ones in the rear to avoid creating pressure points with a backpack
  • Two slots for CARITOOL tool holder
  • Rear loop for haul rope
  • Detachable leg loop elastics

Petzl say:

The adjustable leg loops of the ADJAMA harness make it an ideal piece of equipment for mountaineering and ice climbing. With its ENDOFRAME Technology construction, it provides excellent weight distribution around the waist and legs to ensure greater comfort. The DoubleBack Light buckles on the waistbelt and leg loops ensure quick and easy adjustment. The tie-in points are made of high-tenacity polyethylene for improved resistance to rope friction.

For more info see: petzl.com

Mammut Togir 3 Slide £65

Like most of us, it's more of a workmanlike all-rounder than a refined specialist, 164 kb
Not light enough for hard sport; not padded enough for big walls - but fine for eveything else, 150 kb

Fit and comfort

While it's not the thinnest harness on test, with its split webbing construction and minimal padding the Togir 3 Slide does have a slimline feel. Reducing bulk is good on mountain routes, but it's not a harness for hanging around in all day. There's no ventilation in the waistbelt, but the lining seems to absorb sweat reasonably effectively. Buckles on the leg loops allow you to tailor the fit to your own dimensions, and to accommodate multiple layers for winter climbing. Nevertheless the leg loops are very roomy compared with the waistbelt, while at the same time we find the rise between legs and waist slightly short; if, for instance, you have thin thighs then it's definitely worth trying this harness on before buying.

A plastic guard protects the tie-in point - a particularly high-wear area, 228 kb
A plastic guard protects the tie-in point - a particularly high-wear area
© Dan Bailey

Features

There are two gear loops on each side, overlaid with moulded plastic for rigidity. These are nicely shaped to keep gear from bunching up in the middle of the loop, but they are a touch on the small side, and as a result when you're racked up for a long trad pitch the gear does get close-packed and cluttered. Two sewn loops on each side accommodate up to four ice screw clippers (if that's how you like to carry them), boosting the Togir's credentials as a harness for all seasons - most other models in this category only have two. At the rear you get a very small webbing haul loop - a bit of a fiddle to locate if you're hanging anything on it (my prussiks tend to live here) but adequate. There's also a tiny separate loop for clipping a chalk bag. As with the Edelrid Orion, the lower tie-in loop on the Mammut Togir 3 Slide sports a chunky plastic guard, which both protects against abrasion and holds it rigid for easy tying-in. Given the wear and tear that this bit of a harness receives it seems a sensible idea.

Summary

It's a competent and well-built four season all-rounder at a very competitive price, but we feel there's room for improvement in terms of the fit, and the fact that the gear loops could be a little more generous.

Mammut Togir Slide 3 harness product shot, 77 kb

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL (men) XS, S, M, L (women)
  • Weight: 439g (size L)
  • Adjustable leg loops
  • Innovative Split Webbing technology
  • Complex laminating process for a flat design and maximum comfort
  • Full safety and easy adjustment through 3 Slide Bloc buckles
  • Patented tie-in protector prevents the harness from abrasion damage
  • 4 overmolded gear loops
  • 4 loops to attach an ice screw carabiner
  • Very strong haul loop
  • Functional Drop Seat buckle
  • Price: £65

Mammut say:

The Togir 3 Slide, a versatile alpine all-rounder, features a combination of Split Webbing and laminating technology for maximum comfort, optimum freedom of movement and a low weight. It is ideal for long adventures on rock faces as well as in mixed terrain. Equipped with adjustable leg loops, the harness can be quickly adapted to different applications. The four securely attached gear loops provide enough space for climbing equipment and for ice and mixed climbing, a further four ice-screw carabiners can be added.

For more info see: mammut.ch

Wild Country Syncro £79.99

WC Syncro at Berryhill, 146 kb
WC Syncro at Berryhill
© Dave Saunders
Wearing the Syncro on Kyloe's Slab and Wall, 144 kb
Wearing the Syncro on Kyloe's Slab and Wall
© Dave Saunders

Fit and comfort

The first thing to strike you - you can't miss it - is the Syncro's unusual woven look. This 'Dura-Weave' construction is designed to spread the load evenly in order to reduce pressure points, and though on the inside there's little by way of padding it does seem to work well in conjunction with the super-wide and very sculpted shape of the waistbelt to make a very comfy harness. The leg loops are similarly broad and supportive, so overall the Syncro is one of the better options if you anticipate spending a lot of time dangling around. The fact that it's mostly woven also makes this harness exceedingly breathable - yes, you can literally breathe through it! Hot weather is no issue in this. But with plenty of adjustment the Syncro is well up to winter climbing too, its twin buckles at the waist allowing you to keep everything centred no matter how many layers you're wearing. For each of the four buckles you get two well placed elastic strap retainers, so long tails of excess strap are no issue. There's a lot of rise between the legs and waist too, and robust elastic inserts in the legs. In short, fit and comfort are the name of the game.

Interesting woven construction, but the gear loops get cluttered if you use them all, 239 kb
Interesting woven construction, but the gear loops get cluttered if you use them all
© Dan Bailey

Features

With a total of seven gear loops (count 'em!) you could not accuse the Syncro of lacking storage options. Each is a good shape for keeping gear organised, however we are not convinced by their positioning. Wild Country have given you three main loops on each hip, two arranged conventionally with a third hanging higher between them. All is well with the lower two, but once you start loading the upper loop as well then carabiners overlap and everything begins to get cluttered. You could opt not to use the higher loops - we'd almost be tempted to cut them off - but that would leave you a little short on racking space. If only they'd been boringly conventional, done away with the third loop and made the other two each slightly larger. The seventh loop at the rear is good though, with loads of room for bits and bobs. In addition, for winter climbers, there's an attachment point for ice screw clippers on each side; unfortunately that rogue third gear loop gets in the way of these as well. All that said, if you genuinely needed this much racking space (on a big wall, say) then compared with most all-round harnesses the Syncro would be hard to beat.

Summary

Seven gear loops should offer more space than the average all-rounder is usually going to need. However since a couple of these loops are poorly positioned they compromise the amount of neat, uncluttered gear racking that's actually available. For extra-large trad racks the remaining loops alone are a bit on the small side. It's the heaviest harness here, too, and the workmanship has a slapdash feel in places (an aesthetic issue, not a safety concern). Comfort is great though, with the broad woven waistbelt and leg loops proving both cool and highly supportive.

WC Syncro product shot, 144 kb

Sizes: Small and Regular (men) - there's no direct female equivalent

Weight: 487g (size Regular)

Wild Country say:

A classic concept, the Syncro four buckle is a valuable part of our range. Twin central buckles are quick to adjust, allow a bigger range per size and keep gear loops where you want them. This new version, designed around our unique new, load-spreading, V-Flex™ belt, is more comfortable and secure than ever. Keeping you fresher for longer, by spreading loads to reduce pressure points, it’s the perfect partner for big walls, guiding or long days cragging. Fully featured, including new 7 integrated gear racks, this remains a true workhorse.

For more info see: wildcountry.com

Climbing Technology Wall Harness £55

A gormless looking reviewer about to tackle one of Wimberry's modestly graded fist jamming classics, 100 kb
A gormless looking reviewer about to tackle one of Wimberry's modestly graded fist jamming classics
© UKC Gear

Rob embracing yet another mid-grade classic (aka. jamming horrorshow), this time The Vice at Stanage., 125 kb
Rob embracing yet another mid-grade classic (aka. jamming horrorshow), this time The Vice at Stanage.
© Duncan Campbell


Fit and comfort

The Wall features a twin buckle on the waistbelt, which allows for the gear loops to be centralised irrespecitve of the fit (assuming it does indeed 'fit' in the first place of course). This level of adjustment is particularly handy for all-rounders looking to use the harness for both summer and winter climbing, as the addition of multiple layers can often result in a harness's gear loops becoming lopsided.

Whilst there is an adequate amount of support in both the waistbelt and leg loops, the twisting effect on the finish of the leg loops can result in it pinching around a rather... well... sensitive region. Another drawback is that the Wall is certainly not the most breathable harness we had to review. The foam used throughout is very much a fixed and solid structure, and as such is not air impermeable - hence it can leave you with quite a sweat band at the end of a hot/hard day's climbing.

Features

The harness features a very respectable six gear loops, four of which are full-size and two of which are smaller (located at the back of the harness). For all-round flexibility of use there's a lot to be said for plenty of gear loops; after all, mountain crags and sea cliffs can sometimes demand more gear than four gear loops can comfortably handle, particulary when all your belay paraphernalia is taken into account. There is also a small loop for your chalkbag, although anyone that actually uses these should really think about investing in some 5mm cord!!

In terms of durability, we're not sure whether it was the fabric or simply the wear acceleration process that the reviewer put the harness through (i.e. climbing wide cracks on the grit), but the Wall definitely seemed to wear quite quickly. By 'wear', we don't mean dangerous wear - more cosmetic. If you'd bought the harness new, seeing the material fuzz up quite quickly would undoubtedly be something of a disappointment.

Wall Harness, 214 kb
Wall Harness, 189 kb

Summary

At £55 the Wall is one of the cheapest harnesses in this review. It is a perfectly adequate all-rounder too, adaptable enough for both summer and winter climbing, with plenty of adjustability, loads of gear loops, and ice clipper attachments. In terms of comfort, breathability, and durability however it certainly isn't the best, but perhaps you've got to expect sacrifices to certain specs at the pricepoint that the harness manages to hit.

Wall Harness, 53 kb

  • Sizes: XS-S; M-L; L-XL (men) The Anthea is the women's equivalent
  • Weight: 370g (size M-L)
  • New design with an ergonomic lumbar belt, without pressure points that provides excellent load distribution and optimum comfort of use and when sitting in the harness.
  • The new adjustable T shaped leg loops to provide an enhanced comfort when sitting in the harness.
  • Comfortable mesh3D interior, that ensures excellent breathability and quick drying.
  • Equipped with four new adjustable buckles in light alloy, for fast adjustment and an optimum adaptation to the body in various activities (mountaineering, climbing, ice climbing, etc.).
  • Four large tapered gear loops for a better allocation of the equipment, and an extra two small gear loops located on the back for placing accessories and two slots to accommodate the carrying-tools carabiners (TRUCK) or hammer holster (HAMMER LODGE).
  • Rear loop for the chalk bag.

Climbing Technology say:

Lightweight and versatile adjustable harness, developed for mountaineering, ice climbing and sport climbing.

For more info see: climbingtechnology.com

Edelweiss Strato £60

It's affordably priced, though others are more refined, 167 kb
It's affordably priced, though others are more refined
© Dan Bailey
Racking up in the Edelweiss Strato, 248 kb
Racking up in the Edelweiss Strato
© Rob Greenwood

Fit and comfort

Luxury is not the watchword of the Strato. While the broad leg loops and slightly sculpted cut of the waistbelt help spread the load, padding is minimal to non-existent. As a result this would not be the harness to choose if you anticipated spending any time hanging in it. Indeed we're not sure it's that comfy on any day when you're wearing only thin summer clothes. Run a hand around the inside of the waistbelt and leg loops and you can easily feel all the bar tacking. There is for instance an area of bulky stitching at the innner thigh which has the potential to be uncomfortable over the course of a long day. With two waist buckles the fit can be fine-tuned to keep everything well centred no matter how many layers you've got on, and there's plenty of play to accommodate bulky winter clothing. However the strap retainers have a cheap flimsy feel, and even the tails of the load-bearing webbing have a bit of a sad flop to them. Finally, the rise between the legs and waist is not quite as generous as on some models, so if you often find this an issue it's a harness to try before buying. Overall, the comfort is poor - unless you provide your own padding in winter.

Some of the detailing is a little flimsy, such as the strap retainers, 197 kb
Some of the detailing is a little flimsy, such as the strap retainers
© Dan Bailey

Features

Four gear loops offer a reasonable amount of hanging space for sport climbing and lightly-equipped trad, but as the capacity is smaller than some harnesses' these may not prove sufficient for more gear-hungry scenarios. Much like the Arc'Teryx AR395a, the gear loop webbing is given shape and rigidity by moulded plastic overlays, but the Edelweiss loops are not as big or well thought out, and since they're positioned a lot further back the rear pair are a fiddle to access and you're working more or less blind with them. An ice screw clipping point is provided on each side, but it's a very basic fabric loop which does not hold a clipper as well in position as some of the rival designs. Furthermore, if we ever did use them in anger we can imagine doubting how strong they really are. The rear loop is tiny - just enough for your belay krab.

Summary

The Strato does not seem to have been made with love. There's a flimsy feel to some of the workmanship (not the load-bearing parts we hasten to add), an unimpressive set of features, and a no-frills dowdy design. You might hope its lack of cushioning would result in a lighter-than-average harness, yet we've weighed the Strato at 420g - OK, but not a weight to write home about. Since better-endowed harnesses are available at a similar price its £60 is not even that great value.

Edelweiss Strato product shot, 179 kb

Sizes: Size 1 legs 50-60cm, waist 55-75cm; Size 2 legs 60-70 cm, waist 70-95cm No women's version

Weight: 420g (size 2)

Price: £60

Edelweiss say:

Highly versatile harness for climbing and mountaineering with full ergonomy with a very light weight.

Adjustable legloops with fast autolocking buckles. 4 gear holders. The sleek construction allows for total freedom of movement with great support and comfort. 4 buckle adjustment for easy and precise fitting.

For more info see: edelweissropes.co.uk

Grivel Ares £70

Grivel Ares out for a spin in Northumberland, 216 kb
Grivel Ares out for a spin in Northumberland
© Dan Bailey

Fit and comfort

With two buckles at the waist and plenty of play to accommodate clothing layers, the Ares is pretty adjustable. The waistbelt is nicely sculpted, and yet overall we've found the fit an acquired taste - to put it nicely. The front of the Ares is both novel-looking and oddly fussy, with a load of additional strapping. Both leg loops are formed from one continuous linked piece, which runs through webbing so that it can slide to and fro as you walk. The idea, Grivel say, is to let your legs move freely, and although its effectiveness must partly depend on how well the harness fits you, in our case leg movement is no freer than in a more conventional harness. Although it's tempting to at least query the long term safety implications of having tape running through tape in this way, in practise we've found the amount of movement so slight that there's neither much safety concern nor any noticeable benefit. Meanwhile the rise between waist belt and leg loops is extremely short, and to compensate for this we've had to loosen the legs so much that we're risking serious groin damage in the event of a fall. Clearly the Ares simply does not fit our test team; but even if it does suit you personally we're left wondering why Grivel undertook such an elaborate reimagining of the standard harness design for such marginal gain. Aside from this the padding is absolutely minimal, which is fine in an Alpine or winter setting but less so if you're dangling around on sport routes.

The unusual fit of this harness will not suit everyone, 195 kb
The unusual fit of this harness will not suit everyone
© Dan Bailey

Features

Though they're not particularly sophisticated in design the four gear loops on the Ares are a really decent size for racking plenty of gear. With twin adjustment buckles on the hipbelt you can get the gear loops nicely centred; however the rear loops are positioned far to the back, and they do prove a bit hard to access if you're wearing a rucksack. For winter climbers there's a single ice screw clipper point on each side. These are pretty basic looking compard to some, but we've found they do hold a Black Diamond Ice Clipper securely. There is also a rear loop on the Ares, so small that it's actually quite hard to find unless you know it's there.

Summary

In their attempt to reinvent the wheel we think Grivel have scored a miss with the Ares. The front of the harness is fussy, the novel leg arrangement doesn't in use offer any advantage over a conventional design, and the fit is... well... something you definitely need to try for yourself before buying. You can get a better all-rounder for less money; its lightness is an advantage for alpine climbing however.

Grivel Ares product shot, 138 kb

  • Sizes: Size 1 64-84cm; Size 2 76-106cm (men) No women's version
  • Weight: 405g (size 2)
  • Price: £70
  • Web-Core Technology
  • 4 adjustment buckles

Grivel say:

The ARES is a new interpretation of the alpine harness. The new and special design allows a fantastic freedom for the legs with no compression points in the front part. Fully adjustable with 4 buckles. It benefits from the latest Web-Core technology. A simple and intuitive model.

For more info see: grivel.com

Arc'Teryx AR-395a £120

AR-395a on Garbh Bheinn, 117 kb
AR-395a on Garbh Bheinn
© Lorraine McCall
Plenty of space on the rear loop for slings, screwgates etc, 105 kb
Plenty of space on the rear loop for slings, screwgates etc
© Lorraine McCall

Fit and comfort

The AR-395a has absolutely nothing by way of padding, yet true to its name (AR = 'All Around') it is comfortable across a full range of uses, whether worn over shorts and t-shirt for summer cragging or on top of multiple winter layers. Though wafer thin, the waistbelt and leg loops are also notably broad - particularly at the rear. This spreads the load effectively, giving max support for minimum bulk. As a result, of all the non-cushioned harnesses on test this is the one we find most comfortable for long periods of abseiling, hanging belays and suchlike. There's plenty of play in all the straps to accommodate warm clothing layers, and though you only get a single buckle at the waist we still find the AR-395a easy to keep well centred.

Zero padding at the waist, but it's cut super wide for max support, 230 kb
Zero padding at the waist, but it's cut super wide for max support
© Dan Bailey

Features

Ideally-shaped to keep your gear neat and tidy, the four main rubber-reinforced gear loops are also on the generous side, offering plenty of hanging space for most trad situations. Though this might partly depend on your own individual fit, we've found the loops are optimally positioned on the hips to keep hanging gear away from the front of your legs while still remaining accessible. The addition of an extra-large rear loop seems very sensible, giving overspill room for the bigger rack or simply keeping all your belay stuff, slings etc out of the way while climbing. This fifth loop is a thin, unstructured bit of webbing that sits happily under a rucksack if need be. Two ice screw clipper points on each side help boost this harness' credentials for the keener winter climber, and though it's a small thing we think these are the best in the review, being both the stiffest and clearly the toughest - the last thing you want after all is a snagged clip of precious screws disappearing back down your route.

Summary

Given that there is zero padding, it's a bit of a surprise that the AR-395a wins no special prizes for lightness. With its extremely wide waistbelt it is however supportive and comfortable, and the gear loops are really great. An excellent all-rounder if minimalist luxury is your bag; but at twice the price of some competitors this is no budget option, and you could spend the difference on a full set of nuts or other essentials.

Arc'teryx AR395a product shot, 42 kb

  • Sizes: XS,S,M,L,XL (men's): the AR-385a is a similar model for women
  • Weight: 433g (size L)
  • Price: £120
  • Wear safety markers on belay loop and tie-in points
  • WST™ (Warp Strength Technology) load is evenly supported across entire harness structure
  • Four ice clipper slots
  • Self locking buckles
  • Stretchy mesh storage bag
  • Stainless steel quick hook on the rear leg elastic permits using the bathroom without taking off your harness
  • Rear haul loop
  • Four gear loops
  • Adjustable leg loops enable a precision fit with varying layers

Art'Teryx say:

Built with ergonomic freedom and longwearing performance for versatility on rock and ice, the AR-395a hits the sweet spot where innovation, comfort and performance converge. Innovative Warp Strength Technology™ combines strength with a design that evenly disperses pressure and provides flexibility for freedom and comfort. Burly™ Double Weave material provides hardwearing performance with four way stretch, and laminated elastic webbing in the adjustable leg loops extends rebound life. Four reversible polyurethane gear loops, rear haul loop, four ice clipper slots provide plenty of rack space.

For more info see: arcteryx.com

Black Diamond Momentum £45

Rob on the aptly named 'Arms Race' in Avon Gorge, 157 kb
Rob on the aptly named 'Arms Race' in Avon Gorge
© Penny Orr

Fit and Comfort

When it comes to comfort, the Momentum is both comfortable to wear in use and on lengthy belays - surprisingly so for a harness that hits such a competitive price (RRP £45). It features two supportive bands that run around the harness - one top, one bottom - which are further supported by a layer of foam. On the inside there’s a soft layer of mesh, which helps to wick moisture away from the body; however, on a warm day this is undoubtedly a sweaty harness to be in (although this is hard to avoid in any harness to be fair). On the outside there is a durable nylon shell, which provides a robust outer. Interestingly Black Diamond have folded the mesh over the top around the sides, which leaves a soft next-to-skin feel - a nice touch.

Best in Test Good Value Large, 11 kbFeatures

The Momentum features four gear loops and a single haul loop on the back. Whilst I would have infinitely preferred another gear loop, the haul loop is certainly better than nothing - particularly where multi-pitch climbing is concerned. The gear-loops themselves are thermo-moulded, which in practical terms means they’re nice and stiff - a real plus for when you’re racked up to the hilt on a big lead!

The ‘speed-adjustment’ buckle is swift and simple to use and there’s a neat retainer to strap away the spare webbing, which is a little tight - thus you’ve got to wiggle it to get it through - but perhaps reassuringly so, as it keeps the spare firmly in place.

A really neat feature is the ‘trakFIT’ adjustment on the ordinarily non-adjustable leg loops. A simple slider allows you to adapt the width of the leg loops in accordance with the associated girth of your own legs, handy if you’ve got a chunky set of mountaineering thighs, are a retired pro cyclist, or something to that effect.

Summary

For the price the Momentum offers a lot: plenty of comfort and a decent set of features. This is a good all-rounder, and ideal for the first time buyer.

The Momentum in use on Baggy Point's classic Severe, Shangri-La, 153 kb
The Momentum in use on Baggy Point's classic Severe, Shangri-La
© Penny Orr

Momentum, 25 kb

  • Weight: 350g (size M)
  • Price: £45
  • Pre-threaded Speed Adjust waistbelt buckle
  • Bullhorn-shaped waistbelt built using Dual Core Construction
  • Patent-pending trakFIT adjustment for easy leg loop customization
  • Adjustable rear elastic riser
  • Four pressure-molded gear loops
  • Haul loop

Black Diamond say:

For all-around climbers who know that time spent fiddling with leg loops and adjusting a pinching waistbelt is time wasted, the Black Diamond Momentum delivers a time-saving design for all styles of climbing. A pre-threaded Speed Adjust waistbelt buckle saves time and eliminates error when tying in, while Dual Core Construction™ puts an emphasis on comfort, even when you’re posted up at a hanging belay. TrakFIT leg-loops easily adjust for cool fall days at the crag or blazing summer days on long multi-pitches, and four pressure-molded gear loops and a haul loop make this our most popular all-rounder.

For more info see blackdiamondequipment.com

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