Harnesses wear out. Due to the fact that nylon degrades, even an untouched harness will need replacing after five years. Finding the right harness is perhaps one of the more challenging projects for the climber as they are difficult to differentiate. It’s best to start with a brand.
Petzl has made outdoor equipment since the 70s. Ever since founder Fernand Petzl created the brand’s first ascender in 1968, Petzl has led the way in terms of quality climbing equipment. Petzl founded his company in 1975 and produced his first vertical safety harness in 1978. Today, Petzl continues to make many of the best harness in the world, each with their own special focus.
Determining which Petzl harness is right for you is more often a question of intent than anything else. First, determine what sort of climbing you would like to do. Then choose your harness.
The Hirundos – Redpointing
Even within the context of projecting, different harnesses have different advantages. If the goal is to go fast and light, a bulkier, more comfortable harness may not be the solution. If you plan on sitting in your harness for long periods of projecting, something more comfortable may suit you better.
For redpointing, attempts where the climber specifically tries to send the route, the Petzl Hirundos harness is ideal. New for 2022, this thin, lightweight harness gives the climber everything they need to send sport routes and to belay partners. In the product description, Petzl goes so far as to say it is “The ideal harness for linking cruxes!”
It also says that you are not compromising comfort and that is largely true. With that said, it is only comfortable within the context of lightweight sport harnesses. The padding is enough to support the user, but if you are hanging for hours a day, you will notice the relatively slim padding.
It comes complete with five gear loops for quickdraws, and reinforced tie-in points to prolong the life of the harness. Thin harnesses are at an increased risk for wear making this reinforcement both necessary and appreciated.
The Hirundos comes in four sizes ranging from extra small to large. It also has stretchy leg loops that make it easy to use. One weakness of the harness is the lack of adjustability found in these leg loops. However, the climber receives a more streamlined product as a result.
The Aquila – Projecting
If you are looking for something a more robust, the brand new Petzl Aquila harness provides those things the Hirundos lacks. It will run you an extra $20 but many will find it worth the money simply due to the increased cushioning of the adjustable leg loops.
Designed for both mountaineering and sport climbing, Petzl utilized the same closed cell foam that some crashpad companies use in the top inch of their pads. This technology is shared with the Hirundos guaranteeing as much comfort as possible over the course of its life.
The Aquila’s adjustability pairs with the increased widths of its waste band and leg loops making it more supportive and better tailored to long days at the crag. If you need a harness that can do everything, this is your best option.
The Corax – A Climber’s First Harness
If you have just gotten into sport climbing, you will want something that is comfortable to spend the day in. As only the most elite climbers will notice the differences in weight, the more affordable Corax harness is the best option for those looking to enjoy long days of climbing.
The Corax comes in five sizes ranging from extra small to extra large. It also comes in a women’s version, optimizing for those who want a greater range of options to choose from. The Corax is a fully adjustable harness with twin, double-backing waste buckles to maximise adjustability.
If you want something lighter than the 470 gram Corax, the Corax LT provides climbers with much of the same advantages of the Corax at a reduced weight. It comes with a single waste buckle and non-adjustable leg loops. As such, it is slightly less comfortable and adjustable than the base model, but it is $5 cheaper and more than enough harness for even the most advanced route climber.
Featured image by Jan Novak