Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, compact, great gear loops, looks good.
Cons: Expensive, leg loops can crease and become significantly less comfortable.
Best Uses: Sport climbing, gym climbing.
The Arc'teryx R300 is the updated version of our top rated R320 harness. The R300 has wider Warp Strength Technology waist belt and leg loops, more durable tie in points, and an improved elasticized drop seat. It's both lighter and more comfortable than the previous version, which was already awesome.
If you haven't seen one of these in person, you'll be impressed. The waist belt and leg loops about the thickness of two quarters. This means the harness feels like you are not wearing anything. In addition, this harness has a number of quality design features such as a smooth self-locking buckle and awesome gear loops. Not surprisingly, the R300 is the most expensive harness we've tested.
The R300 is lighter and more compact, but less comfortable than the Black Diamond Chaos, our Editors' Choice climbing harness. Although the R300 is more comfortable than its predecessor, we prefer the R300 for sport and gym climbing and the Chaos for long multi-pitch routes with hanging belays. The best value harness is the Black Diamond Momentum, which can be purchased for as little as $50.
This was our favorite cragging and gym climbing harness because it is so full featured while being light and compact. Although it is the most expensive harness, the Arc'teryx lifetime warranty insures that you will enjoy it for, well a lifetime. On a strict budget, get the Black Diamond Momentum harness. If you want the ultimate sport climbing harness at any price, try this on next to the Black Diamond Ozone and see what fits best. Another budget pick is the Mad Rock Alpha Harness but if you want the coolest harness out there, one that will turn the most heads, this is it.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Arc'teryx R300 is the updated version of the R320. It's the company's best, all-purpose fixed leg loop rock harness. And it's incredible. Perhaps even revolutionary; we have never seen a harness this thin and low profile while being as comfortable as it is. This is one of the few all-purpose harnesses that's highly compact. It takes up very little space inside a pack, which makes it great for alpine rock routes where you carry your gear in for a day or two. And it's so light it almost feels like you are not wearing a harness!! In addition, just about every other feature of this harness is designed well. The gear loops were our favorite of all harnesses we've tested; you can clip more biners to them than any other harness and they were easy to clip because of their hard plastic coating. While a few companies now use gear loops that are angled forward, these gear loops were among the few where the gear would actually slide forward to where you wanted it. Also, because there is no space dedicated to an Ice Clipper, both the gear loops are positioned further forward where you can easily reach your gear.
While most harnesses now have a self-locking buckle for the waist, this one was one of the smoothest to operate. Everyone agreed this was the coolest looking harness, both in design, colors and material. It's the Ferrari of harnesses refined, elegant and expensive. It even comes with a small mesh carrying case (See photo above).
Finally, we love the Arc'teryx lifetime warranty; read more below.
While this harness felt the most comfortable while climbing and standing around, it was not the most comfortable to hang in. Most reviewers were wowed by it at first and wanted to use it. But after hanging in it a lot, some of the initial excitement faded. It is not that the harness is uncomfortable; it is just not as comfortable as other harnesses with beefier foam, especially for hanging around in all day. It is more comfortable than its predecessor (the R320) and other superlight harnesses such as the Petzl Hirundos and Camp Air, but not as comfortable as the Petzl Sama or Black Diamond Aura and Ozone.
The main problem with the larger and more supple leg loops of R300 is they fold over and crease, which can pinch your skin. The diameter of your thighs might influence how much this happens. Our test model, which has been up hundreds of pitches of rock, now has permanent creases in the leg loops. They're less comfortable as a result. But the harness is still comfortable enough for day long multi-pitch routes with some hanging belays. Is the harness, as a whole, more comfortable than the R320? Yes, we believe the wider waist belt makes up for the creasing leg loops. If the leg loops on your harness crease, and you find it terribly uncomfortable, you can probably return it to Arc'teryx.
On a less critical note, the R300 lacks a proper loop to secure the extra waist belt webbing. There loop is large and situated far back from the self-locking buckle. Ironically, we prefer the elasticized loop on the previous version. This drawback is minor- you can stash the extra webbing in a gear loop or let it hang loose without the harness loosening up.
This harness excels when you are not hanging in it for long periods of time. This was one of our favorite harnesses for gym climbing, sport climbing and cragging but not for a multi-pitch route or a big wall climb that involves hanging around for hours at a belay.
Personal Story - Awesome Warranty!
Arc'teryx claims a lifetime warranty. And they mean it. Chris Mac got one of their Blade 15 laptop bags after making a donation to the Access Fund. After a year or two the zipper to the main laptop compartment broke. He sent it back to Arc'teryx, fully expecting to pay for the replacement since he had used the bag hard, often stuffing the it to the gills so he would not have to check another bag on the airplane. Arc'teryx not only did not charge for the replacement, they said his model was no longer available so would he like to upgrade to their newer, bigger and flashier model? All at no charge! Up to that point Chris was turned off by the expense of most Arc'teryx gear. But having seen how they stand behind their products, he says they are good value if you plan to use them a lot.
This harness is expensive. For the same price of $150 you could buy three Black Diamond Momentum harnesses. Before testing it we wondered why anyone would pay that much money when there were pretty solid harnesses for $45. That said, considering that a harness will be your most used piece of gear and considering the Arc'teryx warranty, if you want the ultimate featured harness that will last for years then this is a good investment.
The Arc'teryx R320 is the older version of the R300. The Arc'teryx B360 wins our Top Pick Award as it is by far the lightest and most streamlined of all the big wall harnesses we tested. In fact, it is so light that the tester uses this harness for a lot of trad climbing and gym climbing. If you want a harness for long multi-pitch routes with the occasional big wall, this is the harness to get. The Arc'teryx R280 is a women's harness and takes the Top Pick Award; it's the Audi of harnesses: refined, elegant, expensive.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: April 13, 2014
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