Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Big Gun Review

Black Diamond Big Gun Harness
Price:  $120 List | $89.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, easy-to-remove leg loops, easy-to-clip gear loops.
Cons:  Gear loop durability, cluttered loops.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (size medium):  22.5oz
Gear Loops:  7
Belay loops:  2
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Big Gun is a tricked-out big wall climbing harness with lots of extras: extra belay loop, extra gear loop, and multiple options for clipping gear to the back. It is supportive and comfortable without being too big or heavy.

We found it a little more comfortable than the Petzl Calidris but we like the speed adjust buckles and ventilation on the Calidris. The advantage to the Calidris is it is more streamlined and more suitable for cragging. The Big Gun is just a little too cluttered for cragging. Compared to the Metolius Safe Tech Waldo, the Big Gun is as comfortable and the gear loops are not nearly as strong or easy to use. But it is also much lighter, $10 less expensive, ventilates better, and is easier to adjust and free climb in. Overall, if you want a serious big wall harness or rigging harness, we prefer the Waldo because of its comfort and bomber gear loops. It's hard to say what we would prefer between this and the Calidris. The Calidris is better suited for free climbing, easier to adjust, and vents better. But it is not as comfortable and does not have two belay loops. Tough call.

Only occasionally hopping on big walls and running off a smaller budget? Then consider the $45 Black Diamond Momentum. It's not as comfortable, but it is manageable and up to just about any kind of climbing. It might rub your hips a bit raw, but it's not so bad for infrequent trips up walls. Beware that if you're hauling monster loads, though, the Momentum is not a good choice.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Big Wall Climbing Harness

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Monday
February 8, 2010

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Likes


It is toward the lighter end of big wall harnesses we tested (but heavy compared to a standard climbing harness). The harness vents reasonably well considering how thick the padding is. The gear loops are easy to clip gear to with their rigid plastic. Initially, two belay loops didn't entice me, but now I'm a changed person. You just have more options for clipping stuff. Even though I don't love adjustable leg loops, at least these tuck away nicely if you have medium to skinny legs for your waist size. Best of all, the leg loops are easy to completely remove at night, something that fewer and fewer harnesses let you do. The drop seat feature for dropping the leg loops is very easy to use.

Dislikes


The extra webbing for the waist belt is so skinny it does not look as though it will last forever (but it does tuck away nicely). The extra webbing on the leg loops tucks away great as long as you have skinny-ish legs for your waist size. Otherwise it will not quite tuck away that well (this was a worse problem on the Waldo and Calidris).

The gear loops are too cluttered. I don't see a need for three loops on each side because if you actually use all three then the gear is overlapping and jumbled. More important, after using the full strength gear loops of the Waldo, it is a little scary to hang really heavy important stuff off these loops. For example, if you are grabbing the 20-pound Black Diamond Cliff Cabana Double Portaledge from under the haul bag to bring up to the belay or rappelling the East Ledges with it, it is scary to temporarily clip to the side of your harness through just one belay loop. You can clip it through two but that is a pain in the butt. Sure the belay loops should hold it… but it just feels way less secure to have heavy and precious cargo hanging from them. We actually broke the plastic attachment of the same gear loops on the Black Diamond Chaos. The gear loops still worked, but no longer were perky and stuck out in a place that was easy to clip.

This harness is comfortable, but not nearly as comfy as the Waldo. I find that when hauling big loads it starts to dig into the skin around my hip whereas the Waldo does not. That said, on my last wall two other people had the Big Gun, were hanging around all day in it and never complained. So maybe I am just lightweight.

Value


No longer $100, the Big Gun costs $120. The Petzl Calidris is less expensive, but this harness remains cheaper than the Waldo and the Yates Shield.
Chris McNamara


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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 14, 2012
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (3.4)

60% of 5 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 17%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (3)
3 star: 17%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 17%  (1)

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   Jan 14, 2012 - 01:24pm
Moof · Climber · Orygun
Pros: Much less bulky than Shield. No buckle slip like Shield. Comfy enough.

Cons: Second tier of gear loops are stupid, and should be cut off. I've accidentally blindly clipped stuff there, and it gets lost. If you try to use the top gear loop, the stuff on the bottom gets buried and lost. Overall the 4 useable gear loops are inadequate for a big wall rack. I'd rather have 6 slightly smaller loops than the on the lower tier, and a shrink the loop on the far back (only usable for the hauler and other once-a-pitch stuff).

Biggest bigwall downer: You can detach the leg loops, but the little keeper strap is next to impossible to rethread with wall hands.

Overall it is good multi-pitch harness, and still what I use for most walls, but they could/should have done better on the little on the gear loops.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Climber

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   Nov 1, 2010 - 05:03pm
crustie · Climber · SF, CA
Note: I did get this harness before doing big walls. That said, I still don't like it. I find it really uncomfortable even just at hanging belays on a regular trad route. Too big to move around to get it comfy. It cuts into my back or legs or somewhere, and causes some real pain after a while. And the gear loops are spaced just right to be totally on top of each other. Basically, I think it's bad in every way. And I just did a wall in a cheap harness and had no problems, so I'm not just a whiner!

In fact, I'd love to sell my big gun…only used a couple of times…

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

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   Aug 29, 2010 - 11:54pm
Cannon · Climber · Murrieta, CA
i have spent many full days in this harness. yet to truley 'big wall' but tahquitz and tuolumne, half dome this oct. and i love it.
-pros: wicked confortable, two belay loops (aiding and organizing), no fighting with buckles (old harness was tough to take off @ end of day), plenty of gear loops, easy to clip loops, leg loop unclip in back, large rear loop i use for rigging slings
-cons: a few but easily overcome:
velcro in the front of waist loop under buckle(intended to hold harness in place while you tighten waist) is not needed…..cut it off
top gear loops sit close to directly over loop…..rack the belay station type stuff (two hands available/no desperate stances) on the bottom loop, gear and one hand type stuff on top loop
no specific chaulk bag clip….i rigged a non-climbing biner to the rear gear loop, seperates larger slings from shorter rigging slings



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Climber

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   Jan 11, 2010 - 02:12pm
Jay Wood · Climber · Land of God-less fools
I've been using this harness for aid and trad for a year +.

It's supportive but not bulky & does not restrict free climbing.

You might want more padding for long, hard aid.

Good: double belay loops, comfortable, light, keeps shape, buckles, gear loops function well

Not so good: sizing is weird- loops are centered at smallest adjustment. for average fit, belay loops will be offset to the side. I have skinny legs and size large leg loops are at largest adjustment, while waist is cinched up to smallest. Fabric on leg loops makes annoying rubbing sound while walking.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 11, 2010 - 05:45pm
David Allfrey · Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab
I had an opportunity to buy one of these at a good price so I picked it up thinking it would be my wall harness…not…

No where near the support for doing any sort of real aiding and hauling. It turns my hips to hamburger when hauling pretty much any load. Its not comfortable enough to hang in for long-ish amounts of time and it doesn't have a hammer holster (it comes with a chinsy little one but its no good).

The pros are that it is very low-profile (for a big harness) and so I just use it has my free-climbing harness. I like it for that, its more comfortable than a normal harness and the size is not such to bother me.

As a wall harness: no

As a long free route harness: yes

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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