Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: cool looking, light, compact, great gear loops, great doubleback buckle
Cons: expensive, not the most comfortable for hanging in over long periods
Best Uses: sport climbing, gym climbing
All testers agreed: this is the coolest looking harness, both in design, colors, and material. It's the Audi of harnesses: refined, elegant, expensive. Arc'teryx uses what they call Warp technology to make the waist belt and leg loops about the thickness of two quarters, thinner and unlike any other harness on the market. 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 self-locking buckle, awesome gear loops and waist belt tuckaway. Not surprisingly, it was the most expensive harness we tested.
This was our favorite cragging and gym 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 Primrose SA or the Mammut Ophira. If you want the ultimate sport climbing harness at any price, try this on next to the Petzl Selena and see what works best.
View our complete Women's Climbing Harness Review to see how this product compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
With its unique Warp Technology, the Arc'teryx R280 stands out for being surprisingly thin and compact, yet it still remains comfortable.
This harness is revolutionary; we have never seen a harness this thin and low profile while being as comfortable as it is. Amazingly, the Warp Technology used in the waist belt spreads the weight out over a larger surface area, so even though there is much less padding on this harness, it is still comfortable and supportive. The lack of padding becomes noticeable after hanging in the harness for a while, with the waist and leg loops digging into your sides and legs slightly. This may not be the best harness for working a project or big-walling, but it is excellent for other types of climbing, especially with light weight and compact size are important.
The fixed leg loops on this harness are sized very small and tight. As opposed to the Mammut Ophira which has roomy fixed leg loops, these are restrictive and will not fit as many women.
Since this is a light, minimalist harness, it works best for climbing where weight matters: sport climbing and long, hard in-a-day missions. The excellent gear loops are comfortable while wearing a pack, and the the presence of a haul loop adds versatility to this harness. It won't work well for ice climbing since it lack loops to attach ice clippers, but otherwise is a surprisingly well-rounded piece of equipment.
Ease of Use
While most harnesses now have a self-locking buckle for the waist, this one was one of the smoothest to operate. Also, it has the best tuckaway feature for the extra tail for the waist belt.
We love the gear loops on this harness. On other harnesses the gear loops are either rigid or flexible. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages: rigid loops are much easier to clip gear on and off, and flexible loops are far more comfortable when donning a pack over your harness. Black Diamond uses all pressure molded rigid loops. The Petzl Luna and Selena use rigid loops on the front and flexible loops in the back, which is a clever compromise. Like the Mammut Ophira, on the R280 the gear loops are coated in a rigid plastic so that they are easy to clip, but they are flexible where they attach to the harness. If you wear a pack on top of this harness, the loops easily fold down close to your side, but they hold their shape for clipping and unclipping while climbing. These loops are also well placed in the front of the harness to make reaching gear on the back loops easy and comfortable. The gear loops are also angled forward so your gear slides right to where you need it.
Due to its innovative construction technology, the R280 is the lightest women's harness that we evaluated, weighing a mere 10.5 ounces. This makes it the go to harness for fast and light missions and hard sport sends.
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.
This harness is expensive. For the same price of $150 you could almost buy three Black Diamond Primrose AL harnesses. Before testing it we wondered why anyone would pay that much money when there are pretty solid harnesses for $50. 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.
If you are looking for the lightest, smallest harness you can find, this is the one. We find it to be surprisingly comfortable for its size and particularly love to wear it sport climbing.
The men's version; Arc'teryx R320
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: August 15, 2013
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