Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: comfortable, easy to put on, fits most (but not all) people well
Cons: Heavy, lots of buckles
Best Uses: Multi-pitch rock routes or other routes where you will be hanging in your harness for extended periods of time.
The Petzl Corax is a staple of the Petzl climbing harness line, still just as popular as when it was released in 2001. It is one of the best all-around harnesses we tested relatively light for how comfy it is and offering all the right features: self-locking buckles easy to use drop seat and built-in ice clipper slots. The Corax is best at taking the pain out of extended hanging stances and belay sessions. It is one of the few harnesses we tested to sport two front buckles. This feature keeps the harness oriented correctly, which helps to more evenly distribute the load around your body and maintain gear loop positioning side-to-side. So while it is slightly heavier than most harnesses we tested, it is one of the most comfortable.
If you are not planning to log a lot of time hanging in your harness you could save money or some weight by looking elsewhere. The Corax is one of the heavier harnesses we tested but is extremely versatile. It will help you survive long free hanging stances, making it excel on long routes, including the occasional aid climb. The Corax can do it all, from cragging to ice climbing, but is a little heavy and bulky for alpine ventures. If you want a slightly lighter and less padded harness, check out the Petzl Adjama or Petzl Sama (like the Adjama but no leg buckles). The Camp Quartz CR3 is a little less expensive and scored a little higher in our tests. The Black Diamond Momentum SA is $16 less expensive and was about as comfortable. However, it is not as light or breathable. Overall, this is very popular harness that has served many avid climbers and guides for years.
Check out our complete Climbing Harness Review to see how this compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Petzl Corax is one of the most comfortable harnesses we tested. It is about as comfy as Yates Astroman harness but far less cumbersome. The Corax comes packed full of features. It has slots for ice clippers and two self-locking buckles that orient the harness front-to-back and are easy to operate with gloves on. The simple drop loop system is just a hook that slides into an elastic loop, which we never saw come prematurely undone but was still easy to use. It has adjustable leg loops, nice for putting on the harness over crampons or skis. It also made adjusting for layers easier.
Petzl has led the industry in providing clear illustrations in the documentation on how to use their products. They have now taken the next step by printing these illustrations on their harnesses. For example, on the belay loop there is a printed illustration showing how to tie in. The picture will fade over time but it will be there when it is most needed: when a person first buys the harness.
Testers were split on the gear loops on the Corax. They are low profile so you can wear a pack with the harness on. The back loops are designed to slide gear slightly forward to help the user reach its contents more easily. At the same time, they are not as perky as plastic gear loops on the Black Diamond. So this is personal preference. Ice climbers will appreciate the space between the front and rear gear loops for the ice screw biner. Rock climbers will wish the rear gear loops were moved a little further forward.
The Corax weighs 17.5 ounces, on the heavy side among the harnesses we tested, but it is more comfortable than most of its lighter competitors. The Corax is available in only two sizes compared with most other harnesses we looked at, which come in three to five. These two sizes did fit nearly every climber we know, from 130 to 240 pounds. The exception was Ian's 5'3", 112-pound fiancee, who was a little too small for the Corax to fit correctly. The Corax has adjustable leg loops, which some people find less comfortable and more cumbersome, but that's a personal preference (See Editors' Choice review). The foam that Petzl uses provides great comfort but is stiffer and less compact than that on other harnesses. This makes the Corax a little bulkier and harder to cram into a pack. Finally, there are a lot of buckles which some testers like Chris Mac found a little annoying. He prefers harnesses that have just one buckle for the waist.
While the ability to adjust fit to a wide range of climbers is great feature if your harness that is frequently shared by multiple users, we found the four buckles on the Corax to make it a bit clunky, harder to fit in your pack, and less simple for a gym or sport climb compared to other harnesses. We assume that most readers have their own harness, and for use in a gym, less is more. As a result, the Corax didn't fare as well as competing harnesses for use in gym/sport climbs which were less bulky.
The Corax is most at home on multi-pitch routes of nearly any kind from long Valley trad climbs to big Canadian ice routes. We even thought it is a nice option for the occasional big wall. We thought it made a great ice harness because of its ice clipper slots and its buckles that are easy to operate with gloves on. The Corax is on the heavy side for traditional mountaineering and alpine routes and slightly overbuilt for your average sport climber's needs. But the Corax is a sweet option if you have to belay your buddy for hours as he or she works on their project.
Tester Ian Nicholson would choose a Corax if he could only have one Petzl harness AND only harness for everything. He has used it on El Cap speed dashes, big wall first ascents in Alaska and 1500-foot ice routes in the Canadian Rockies. However, for most alpine climbs he reaches for a lighter harness with no adjustable leg loops.
At $76 the Petzl Corax is in the middle of the road for price and the most comfortable in that range. If you often find yourself on multi-pitch routes or just enjoy a little more padding, the Corax is a good bet.
Video on Petzl's Frame Technology
— Chris McNamara, Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: May 6, 2012
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