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Petzl Sama Review

   

Climbing Harness - Men's

  • Currently 3.7/5
Overall avg rating 3.7 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: June 3, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $52 - $65 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros:  light, comfortable, well-ventilated
Cons:  gear loops not our favorite, haul loop not full strength
Best Uses:  trad climbing, big wall climbing, sport climbing, multi-pitch climbing
User Rating:     
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  • 5
 (3.3 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  67% of reviewers (2/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Petzl
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ December 27, 2009  
Overview
The Petzl Sama is maybe the most versatile climbing harness we tested. We would take this sport climbing, on El Cap, and everywhere in between. It is light, functional, comfortable and a good value for how light and comfortable it is. It is one of the best ventilated harnesses we tested. Some of our testers said that if they could only have one harness, this would be it.

If you are on a budget, the Black Diamond Momentum is $20 less and will also work in most applications. If you have an unlimited budget, try on the Arc'teryx R320 and Black Diamond Chaos to see what fits and feels best. If you want a version with self-locking buckles on the leg loops, check out the Petzl Adjama. Otherwise, we think think is maybe our favorite Petzl harness.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
We don't know if Petzl invented the "see-through" harness, but the Sama is the first harness we saw that used perforated closed cell foam on the waistbelt and leg loops. When you hold it up to the light you see through a lot of the harness. This improves breathability, makes the harness lighter and just looks cool. Petzl achieves this with their Frame technology, which basically puts the strength and structure of the harness around the edges (check out a cool video about frame technology below). The harness is reinforced at the leg loops where harnesses usually wear out first so this harness should last for a long, long time. Petzl was one of the first companies (if not the first) to use a feature we love, a self-locking buckle they call it DoubleBack. For a while, Petzl harnesses stood out because they had it. Now almost all harness manufacturers use the self-locking buckle. This not only makes it easy to get the harness on and off, it's a great safety feature it is impossible to forget to double back your harness.

Petzl has always let the industry with clear illustrations in product documentation. 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 you how to tie in. This will likely wear out over time. However, it will be there when it is most needed: when a person first buys the harness.

Dislikes
The only main dislike with the Petzl, and it is a debatable dislike, are the gear loops. Petzl once had plastic gear loops and then switched to soft "non-plastic-coated" gear loops. According to their web site they did this so the harness would be more comfortable when wearing a backpack. Some testers liked the new soft gear loops. Others did not.

There is a gap between the forward and rear gear loops so that you can clip the CARITOOL and easily access ice screws when ice climbing. This is a benefit for ice climbers, but for trad climbers it means the rear gear loop is pushed further back and is less accessible.

The trail line loop on the back of the harness does not appear that beefy. It may be strong enough, but psychologically it would be a little scary to hang a haul line off it in a big wall application.

For a size medium, this harness fits large. If you are on the small side of a medium, you should probably not order this harness online. Instead, get it from a store so you can try it on.

Personal Stories
This is Chris Mac's favorite Petzl Harness. He would reach for this over the Petzl Corax because it is almost as comfortable and comes without all the buckles. Ian Nicholson, would choose the Corax because it is more comfortable and he works his harnesses harder than anyone.

Best Application
This is an all-around harness that works for just about any application. It is great for the gym, sport climbing and traditional climbing. Chris Mac has used it a lot for climbing on El Capitan.

Value
This harness is in the middle of the value range. If compared to the Arc'teryx R32 ($135) or the Black Diamond Chaos ($125) it is a bargain at $65. But if you compare it to the Black Diamond Momentum ($45) it is a little pricey considering how well the Momentum performed.

Other Versions
The Petzl Luna is the adjustable leg loop version of the Petzl Selena - both are women's harnesses.

The Petzl Corax, $65, 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 Petzl Corax is one of the most comfortable harnesses we tested.


Video on Petzl's Frame Technology

Chris McNamara, Chris Van Leuven

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 3, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 4
  • 5
 (3.3)

67% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 25%  (1)
2 star: 25%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Jun 3, 2014 - 02:53am
Sean Maguire · Climber · Manassas
I have the new red version of this harness which is considerably different from the older version reviewed above as you can see by the pictures. I absolutely LOVE it! Some of the differences on the new one versus the old one are there are no longer the mesh panels and the gear loops have been changed. It is incredibly comfortable. I've taken some big falls in this and it is great because it doesn't dig into you're groin like some harnesses do. It also isn't a pain to belay somebody on their project in either where you'll be sitting in it a lot. The one draw back is it obviously doesn't breath as well but it still does a pretty good job of that. For some comparison I've also climbed in the Black Diamond momentum and the Sama is by fair and away the better harness in my opinion is it much more comfortable and definitely worth the extra ten dollars.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 7, 2012 - 03:20pm
I bought this harness on sale, and for $50 it's a good harness. I have climbed on it for over a year and still looks fine (although I don't get outside much in the winter). I wear a size 34 waist pant, and my legs are mid-sized the Medium fits really well (I love the elastic leg loops they are tight without squeazing my legs). My friend wears a 30 pant and wears a small in this harness. I don't notice the harness unless I'm at a hanging belay, where a more comfortable harness always beats out the lightweights. I like the mesh panels in the back compared to my old Arcteryx Vapor which had a fleecy type material on it.

Pros: Lightweight

Airy due to mesh panels

Form fits to my legs (24 in. 62 cm circumference, size medium)

Cheap (compared to the new harnesses, used to be one of the more expensive offerings though).

Cons: Not the most comfortable harness out there, but hangdog less and you won't notice!

Back loop isn't full strength, although I've clipped a second rope to it
many times without a problem, I would be scared to in an alpine setting.

Leg loops aren't adjustable, something I could care less about but if you have bigger or smaller thighs you probably will.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Dec 19, 2011 - 06:43pm
Rankin · Climber · Greensboro, North Carolina
I wanted to buy this harness but there is not a size that fits me. I'm 6'1" and 165+ pounds and am too small for a medium (in the waist) and too large for a small (in the legs). Oddly, the leg loops are almost too small for me in the medium. My legs are muscular, but not that big. Also, the gap between the front and rear gear loops, to accomodate the caritool, is a poor choice for rock climbing. I'd rather buy another harness to accomodate ice than lose that valuable real estate for a tool that I never use. I went with the small Adjama, and after a full season, I fully regret it. I was hoping the negatives would be compensated by the extra-ventilation (which is a very nice feature in the South), but I was disappointed. Nice material, stupid sizing, and poor gear loops. Not a good harness for gear climbing.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Petzl Sama Harness
Credit: Petzl.com
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