Gear Review – Arc’teryx R280 Harness

03_12_harnessesIf Missy’s vice is Lululemon, mine’s anything made by Arc’teryx. It’s simple really – they create sleek gear out of high quality materials, but of course they cost you a pretty penny. However, there are some pieces of gear that are worth paying a little extra for. In my opinion this harness is one of them.

Fit: Halleluja! This harness is designed for a woman’s body (see Cate’s review of the Arc’teryx Muira 50 for her thoughts on packs designed for women). Of course there’s a serious range of female body types so I can only speak for myself regarding fit. For reference, I’m 5″4′ and my waist, hips, and thighs are pretty average and proportional for an athletic woman. On me, the waist belt and leg loops hit right where they’re supposed to. There are no buckles to fiddle with on the leg loops, yet the loops are flexible to accommodate different leg sizes. The most striking feature is how LIGHT and THIN this harness is, which Arc’teryx accomplishes by what they call “Warp Strength Technology”. They describe WST as “a unidirectional mesh that provides bridging support in one direction and total flexibility and suppleness in the other”. Regardless of how it works, I’m here to say that it really does work to create a comfortable, light, and supportive fit. I actually forget that I’m wearing it sometimes, and let’s face it, every little bit of weight counts when when you’re totally pumped and 10 feet above your bolt.

Form: The current versions come in Amethyst and Bondi Blue, so we can choose between a softer girly version and a bolder funkier one. Older models, like the one I own, came in dark gray with or without a magenta accent color. The current colors wouldn’t necessarily be my first choices, but I’m glad they’ve given us a few options.

Function: This harness features a self-locking buckle at the waist, so it’s automatically doubled back. There are four, well-placed structured gear loops which are easy and intuitive to clip gear on to and off of. For all you trad and multi-pitch climbers, there’s a non-structural haul loop on the back of the harness. The new version has two drop seat buckles so that you can easily detach the elastic webbing that connects the back of the leg loops to the back of the waist band, making it easier to pop-a-squat in the woods. The older version attaches with a hook that’s really difficult to maneuver. This feature seems like a major upgrade, especially for us ladies.

Finances: Here comes the pretty penny I mentioned. This harness retails at $149, which sounds like a lot, but when you think about what you’re asking out of the product it’s worth it. This thing is keeping you off the ground after all (don’t worry ropes, draws, bolts, I haven’t forgotten you). And it’s doing so while being well constructed, functional, and comfortable. Also, if you’re patient you’ll be able to find it on sale at some point. I got mine on about a year ago for $65!

Crush Status: Up there, for sure. I would definitely recommend it to a friend and then be a little jealous that they had the shiny new one with the two drop seat buckles.

Climb on!


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8 thoughts on “Gear Review – Arc’teryx R280 Harness

  1. Arc'Greg says:

    Great post, thank you! Love your site.

  2. FYI: I appreciate that all comments about fit are very much based on individual experience, but I had a difficult time figuring out which of the Arc’Teryx R280 harnesses was the right fit for me. In the end, after MUCH testing and buying and returning, I had to go with the Men’s Small rather than either the Women’s Medium or Small. The Women’s Medium had huge leg loops (at least on my body) and the Women’s Small had an overly small waist belt. That said, I have been completely satisfied with the purchase; it’s a great, comfortable harness.

    • Mary says:

      We totally agree – climbing gear is personal and you have to try on lots of products to find what works for you. We definitely try to keep in mind that reviews can only be written from personal experience and that those experiences will vary. Glad to hear you found the right harness for you!

  3. Sunshine says:

    Unfortunately, I have to disagree with this recommendation. I love the company, but I absolutely hate my R280 harness.

    Here’s why:
    1) The leg loops end up folding after prolonged use. They wrinkle up and put annoying pressure on your thighs, and make hanging belays, lead falls (and hang-dogging) quite uncomfortable.
    2) The adjustable strap on the bottom tie-in point (meant for keeping your knot centered on the reinforced material) comes undone after a few pitches. Yes I’m double-backed, and no I don’t have rave parties on belay. I’ve been 6 pitches up on a climb and look down to realize my figure 8 has slid all the way down to one of my leg loops. No bueno.
    3) In addition to the leg loops folding, the waist strap also folds if there is too much weight on your gear loops, causing lots of discomfort on your lady love handles. Quick draws are light enough, but anything larger than a single rack and you really feel the weight.
    4) The gear loops are this funky design where the plastic sheath can partially unsnap (the gear loops themselves are sturdy). I find this really frustrating when I’m cruxing out (brah) and I look down to see my gear loop is all twisted and unsnapped. I think this is purely cosmetic, but for a $148 harness I feel the obligation to note all my peeves.

    Yes it is light as all hell, but also uncomfortable as all hell (in my 5’3”, 115lb opinion). This harness is good not great if you want a super fancy sport-o harness, but not for a day of hanging belays or anything involving putting lots o pro on those gear loops. And let’s be honest, how many of us out there find that sending or not sending your proj is the difference between a few extra ounces?

    Just my opinion. I love you ladies at CXC and read your entries religiously!

    • Mary says:

      Sunshine – thank you so much for the alternative opinion on this harness! Seriously, reviews are totally subjective and it’s great to hear another perspective. Ladies, take Sunshine’s experience into account when you’re thinking about a harness and keep the thoughts coming!

    • Arc'Greg says:

      Hi Sunshine, thanks so much for the thorough comment – we appreciate all feedback and I’ve already passed it on to our design team. In the meantime, what you’re describing might be the result of improper fit or something off with your harness in particular. Please contact us directly at 866.458.2473 and we’ll get this figured out.

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