Hands-on Gear Review

Metolius Safe Tech Waldo Review

Metolius Waldo Harness
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Nov 17, 2016
Price:  $139 List  |  $138.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Comfortable, plush, great gear loops.
Cons:  Doesn't breathe well, leg loop and waist belt webbing does not tuck away cleanly.
Manufacturer:   Metolius

Our Verdict

The Metolius Safe Tech Waldo is our current favorite big wall climbing harness. It is the most comfy harnesses we tested and is also ideal for rigging, course setting or any application where you are going to hang around a lot. This is the most popular harness among climbing gym course setters, which says something. This harness costs $129, which is more expensive than the Petzl Calidris and Black Diamond Big Gun.

Compared to the Black Diamond Big Gun this harness is more comfortable with better gear loops, but it is heavier, doesn't breathe that well, and you can't take off the leg loops. We still prefer the Waldo but there are some big pros to the Big Gun. Compared to the Calidris, the Calidris is also lighter, breathes much better, and can be also used as a free climbing harness (we wouldn't use the Waldo at the crags). However, the Calidris doesn't have the two belay loops, super bomber gear loops, and was not nearly as comfy. So we go with the Waldo and choose it as our fav big wall/rigging harness.

If you are just going to do a handful of walls and are on a tight budget, we would lean toward the Black Diamond Momentum, which won't be as comfortable but is only $45 and can be used for just about every type of climbing. We have done a lot of walls in harnesses with equal padding to the Momentum and while the hip area may get rubbed a little raw, it's not that bad as long as you are not hauling massive loads.

Our Analysis and Test Results



It has the widest waist belt and leg loops of any harness we tested and has a very soft and cozy surface. When you hang out at the belay it's a little like wearing a chair. At first I was not a fan of two belay loops but now I am a convert. You have a lot more options of where to clip stuff.

The perky and durable gear loops are the best we tested. Not only do they stick straight out and are easy to clip, they are full strength. Often when setting up a hanging bivy one person needs to dive below the haul bags to unclip stuff from under the bags, clip it to the side of the harness, then come back up to the portaledge. This is one of the few harnesses where we felt could confidently hang anything off the gear loops.


The downside to it being so plush is that it doesn't breath well and is heavy. When it is 90 degrees in Yosemite or Zion this harness gets hot. It is also not great for free climbing. We would not take this on The Nose or a route where you want to feel light and nimble on the free pitches.

While this harness nails the important stuff (comfort, bomber gear loops, and clip-in points) there are many little annoying details. You can't take the leg loops off to sleep on a big wall. This is not an issue if you take off your harness when sleeping. But if you are like most wall climbers who want a more secure-feeling tie in, you may be bummin when you have to sleep with this harness on. The best option is to bring an extra piece of two-inch-wide webbing that is six feet long and make a 70s style swami to sleep in and then just take the harness off completely.

The extra webbing for the leg loops and waist belt does not tuck away cleanly. The waist belt is a little annoying but the leg loops are more annoying. I can't figure out how to keep the extra webbing tucked away so I just climb with the extra hanging down. Not a big deal but it seems like a pretty easy design issue for Metolius to solve. There are no speed adjust buckles, which is not a big deal with a harness that you don't take on and off much…but I still would prefer the speed adjust buckle.

The sizing with this harness can be a little tricky. I found that with a 31 inch waist I was just between their small and medium and wasn't sure which way to go. I went with medium in case age ads a little to that zone. Metolius has the following warning on their web site: "Waldo Sizing Note: When fitting the Waldo harness the buyer should choose a size that will allow them to tighten the harness a few more inches from what feels initially comfortable. Wall climbers find that after a few days on a route, with a load of gear clipped to the harness, the ability to further cinch tight the harness is crucial."

Metolius Video on the 3-D Adjustable Rise System

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (1)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 33%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 11, 2010 - 02:29pm
Mike. · Climber

This harness was a bit of a misfire by Metolius.

As the ST review suggests, the riser buckles initially were designed to remain attached, and they were a real bear to adjust. Taking the "Safe-Tech" thinking to the extreme of including pemanently-attached rear risers on a wall harness was a completely baffling decision. Did anyone even use the thing before it hit store shelves? You could barely get your pants down enough to take a dump, and then you'd have to hope for the best aim between the attached risers. Changing pants was a cramp-inducing party trick. After retro-fitting my Waldo risers with Fastex buckles and contacting Metilous about this grievous oversight, the company eventually re-engineered the harness to include detachable risers.

If you buy one of these be sure the one you're buying is not an older (non-detachable riser) model. The old ones were being sold off to unsuspecting wall climbers like my friend Kevin who inadvertently purchased one at Yo Mountain Shop.

The accessory loops need to be thinner, IMO, and made of a harder plastic to get biners on and off more easily, especially in warm weather. I would gladly trade that for their full strength since the har already has a full strength haul loop.

Additionally, the wide swami and leg loops need to be stiffer. Big, floppy foam may be fine for route setting, but for wall rigors a harness should supply some support and disperse pressure for the hours/days of hanging and hauling involved.

Chris McNamara

Apr 20, 2011 - 10:55am
Chris McNamara · Founder and Editor-in-Chief

The version I reviewed that was manufactured 1 year ago did not. According to the Metolius website, it still does not have removable leg loops:

"Non-removable leg loops, drop seat rear elastic for those calls of nature"

Only big flaw I see with this harness

goofing off at pine creek

Apr 19, 2011 - 07:30pm
jfailing · Climber · Lone Pine

Does the most recent version of this harness have detachable leg-loops now?

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   Dec 22, 2010 - 11:06am
Studly · Climber · WA

I have this harness for aid climbing. It is comfy but it is also quite heavy!

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

Aug 30, 2010 - 05:41pm
mark miller · Climber · Reno

Mike has some valid points , but they are easy to correct with Fastex or …..Thicker padding might Knott be a bad idea either. Let's ask Mikey he hates everything. Good reminder points Bro.

Aug 30, 2010 - 05:37pm
mark miller · Climber · Reno
Being 200+lbs, I love my waldo, I've tried everything else and now use a safe tec as my regular harness also. KISS. I've tried everything else yates,Misty Mountain, Petzel,…Blah,blah,,But the waldo is the cadillac. I usually take an old modified Petzel swami for sleeping though.

I did like Josh's ( at Pika) idea of the gear loops on the leg loops to rack though. The red and blue tie in points work great for 2 different daisy chains and reduce the cluster factor significantly once you learn it. Great harness, thanks metolius for bringing another well thought out quality product to market.

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