Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $60
Pros: light, compact, great value
Cons: gear loops too far back, weak haul loop
Best Uses: sport climbing, gym climbing, cragging
This harness surprised us for its comfort and light weight considering how little it costs. It is less than half the cost of other lightweight harnesses and still has the features you need in a comfortable package. It is probably the best high-performance harness for the money. We also thought it just looked cool.
If you have a budget and are looking for a lightweight and low bulk free climbing harness, it is hard to go wrong with the Alpha. While the Arc'teryx R320 and Black Diamond Ozone scored higher in our tests, they are $75 and $65 dollars more expensive, respectively. We awarded this harness the Best Buy award for delivering so much value in such a nice package. Any gym or sport climber should add it to their short list if they are in the market for a light harness.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This harness is surprisingly comfortable. Not so comfortable that you can hang around for hours (don't take it for a three-hour hanging belay), but it is surprisingly comfy for having such thin waist and leg loops and being so lightweight. The comfort comes from the soft material the harness is lined with. The Alpha won't breathe as well as the Petzl Hirundos, but it is more comfortable both when the harness is weighted and when you are just standing around. Also, compared to high-end lightweight harnesses, it was easy to get the elastic for the leg loops on and off.
The front gear loops are positioned further back than they need to be. This means you have to reach further back for quick draws, which is annoying. The leg loop straps are easy to get on and off but their plastic attachment looks like it would not be durable in a chimney. (We never broke them, but we started to wear them down). The haul loop is only rated to 10kg (22 pounds), which makes it a little scary for taking your trail line. We recommend always keeping one end of the trail line clipped to the anchor, which most people do anyway. That way, if the loop breaks, you won't watch your rappel cord go to the deck.
Also, we couldn't find this harness at any major online retailers. So your main option is to buy from Mad Rock. Mad Rock has low shipping costs and good customer service so making the purchase is not a big deal. However, if you want to try on this harness at your local shop, you are probably out of luck.
This harness is ideal for the gym, sport climbing and cragging. It would work for multi-pitch routes but it is not ideal if you are hanging around for hours at a time. This would be a great alpine rock harness. It probably does not dry fast enough to do well in the snow. For that application Mad Rock has the Mercury Ultra Light Harness
This is the best light-but-still comfy harness for the money. Of course, if you want an all-around harness and are not fixated on weight, the Black Diamond Momentum or the Mad Rock Mars are a much better bang for the buck.
— Chris McNamara, Chris Van Leuven
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Most recent review: February 8, 2010
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