The 3.25 inch waistbelt on the Black Diamond Lotus is made using Black Diamond's Dual Core XP Construction™, which consists of two strands of webbing around the outside of the waist and an EVA foam insert in the middle that evenly distributes the load without pressure points. It comes with four ice clipper slots and four rigid, plastic-coated gear loops. The haul loop is rated to 12 kN, and there is a separate 6 inch long p-cord style loop above it for extra gear. It also has adjustable leg loops.
Cam McKenzie Ring trying hard in the Black Diamond Lotus. This all-around harness transitions well from ice to trad, and was a close second for our Editors' Choice pick.
Standing & Hanging Comfort
Our testers found the waistbelt on this model a little stiff, and it wasn't quite as comfortable to wear all day when compared to the Camp Supernova or Arc'teryx AR-385a. When it came to hanging comfort, however, it was one of the more comfortable models, particularly compared to the lighter weight sport designs, like the Black Diamond Siren. Although there isn't a lot of padding on the legs, the leg loops are comfortable to hang in as they are well-designed with a rounded edge that didn't dig into the back of our thighs like the Arc'teryx AR-385a.
A harness carries the weight of your body in both the legs and waist. Typically, only 30% of your weight is carried on the waist and the other 70% (or more) is on the leg loops, so make sure that you purchase a harness that is just as comfortable on the legs as on the waist.
We also found this harness much more comfortable than the Petzl Luna, whose waistbelt seems more suited to the male anatomy than the female form.
While other harness are wide in the back and then contour around and over the hips, like the BD Lotus (below), the Luna (above) gets wider around the hips and seem more suited to a man's physique.
The Black Diamond Lotus harness has a lot of design features that we really liked. The four ice clipper slots are great, compared to only two on the Camp Supernova and Petzl Luna. Because they are cut into the material on the waistbelt, they are very tight and secure, and your clippers won't ever flip upside down. The loops on the Luna and Arc'teryx are sewn on the outside of the belt, and they aren't as secure as these ones. They are also appropriately placed far enough forward so you don't have to twist uncomfortably to reach them. While some people prefer to have their ice clippers further back (so that when they step up, the leg does not hit the stiff screws), they can just use the rear clipper loops, which are still further forward than the Petzl loops.
The ice clipper slots on our Top Pick winner are secure and well positioned on the harness for easy access.
We also really liked the stiff plastic-covered gear loops better than the fabric-covered loops on the Petzl Luna or Mammut Ophira. They are rigid and stick out from the harness, which makes them easy to clip and unclip from, but they do make it uncomfortable to wear this harness under a pack. While we appreciate the extra 6 inch long p-cord loop on the rear (for attaching extra things like gloves, a rappel device and/or an emergency layer) we found that the point where the haul loop is sewn into the frame creates a bit of a pressure point on our backs, particularly when chimneying or pressing our backs against the cliff.
The molded gear loops are easy to clip and unclip from, and there is plenty of space on this harness to handle all of your gear.
The material on this harness is a little stiff, and our testers didn't find it as mobile as some of the lightweight harnesses, like the Mammut Zephira or the Arc'teryx AR-385a. But really, we never felt our movement was impeded in this model either and it's possible that the material will soften up a bit with use.
While not quite as mobile as some sport specific harnesses, we were still able to climb everything in this harness with ease, from long, slabby climbs with high steps to this overhanging gear route.
The Black Diamond Lotus was one of the most versatile harnesses that we tested, and truly a great choice for ice, alpine, trad, or sport. While it's not as lightweight as some of the sport-specific harnesses that we tested, it is only a few ounces heavier and a lot more comfortable to hang in. While we don't think a few ounces will be the difference between sending or falling on a hard climb, the Lotus will leave you more comfortable when hang dogging a route or belaying your partner doing the same.
If you don't like carrying your screw in the front clipper slot, the rear slot is still easily accessible and not too far back.
The Speed Adjust buckle on the waistbelt is easy to use and the adjustable legs give you lots of room for layering heavier pants underneath. We did find that the rise on the leg loops is not very easy to adjust. The elastic bands are threaded through and back around a clip. Luckily, this is the type of adjustment that you make once and then forget about, so it's not much of a deal breaker. The clips themselves are easy to detach and reattach when "watering a tree" and we like how they are a flat and minimalist clip, unlike the plastic clip on the Petzl Luna which creates a pressure point on your back when pressing up against the rock.
The adjustable legs loops allowed us to wear this harness over lightweight pants when trad climbing and then layer it over softshell pants and long underwear when ice climbing.
This harness is best-suited to ice and traditional climbing, and if that is your main slice of the climbing life then we'd recommend this harness. It will perform well on sport climbs as well, but if you think you'll be doing more sport than trad and ice, we'd probably go with the Camp Supernova instead.
This is a great all-around harness. If you like to do it all, and only want one harness in your gear cache, then this is a great purchase.
At $80, the Black Diamond Lotus is reasonably priced considering you get so many different applications from it. A similar all-around harness from Arc'teryx, the AR-385a, costs a staggering $160, or twice as much. The Lotus also comes with Black Diamond's Bombshell abrasion patches on the legs and waistbelt, which they claim is "20 times more durable than standard nylon." While we weren't able to verify that claim during our three month testing period, one of our testers has experienced significant wear on the nylon leg loops of her personal Camp Supernova harness due to many pitches on abrasive sandstone trad routes. It could be that the patches on our Top Pick winner are the key to harness longevity, particularly when climbing on sandpaper, er, sandstone.
The Bombshell abrasion patches on the legs and waist are supposed to be 20 times more durable than nylon alone.
Black Diamond wanted a harness for the woman who does it all, and we think they delivered a great product with the Lotus, which is why we've given it our Top Pick for Trad and Ice Climbing award. It was a close runner-up for our Editors' Choice award, and in a few instances we actually preferred it over the Camp Supernova. If you are a pick wielding, desert tower scraping, hard-charging lady who wants one harness to rule them all, you won't be disappointed with this one.