If 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 www.steepandcheap.com 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.