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Black Diamond Primrose Review

Black Diamond Primrose
Photo: Black Diamond
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Price:  $57 List
Pros:  Comfortable, easy to clip rigid gear loops, great value, adjustable leg loop system is light and easy
Cons:  No ice tool holders
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Cam McKenzie Ring & McKenzie Long  ⋅  Aug 31, 2017
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  • Standing Comfort - 20% 7
  • Hanging Comfort - 20% 9
  • Features - 20% 8
  • Mobility - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Adjustability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Black Diamond discontinued the Primrose harness.

The women's Primrose is a product build upon the strong legacy of a previous harness by Black Diamond, the SA (which won our Best Buy award in past years). Black diamond carried through some of the best qualities of the SA and improved upon several characteristics of the product. The Primrose sports a new waistbelt and is constructed with a more durable nylon material. It has the same speed adjust buckle and trakFIT leg loops from the old SA version and is a great all-around model, fit for first-time users and seasoned climbers, alike.

This harness is comfortable to hang in and has easy-to-clip rigid gear loops. Best of all, it only costs $57. If you are looking for a great all-around harness that will perform well from trad to sport, this is a great purchase. If, however, you think some ice climbing is in your future, then the similarly constructed Black Diamond Lotus is a better bet, as it has ice clipper slots, as does our Editors' Choice winning CAMP Supernova. You could always spend more money on a lighter sport climbing specific harness, like the Black Diamond Siren, but in the end the Primrose will be more comfortable and more versatile, not to mention less expensive, and for that we've given it our Best Buy award.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Hands-On Review Of The Black Diamond Primrose

This harness is made with Black Diamond's Dual Core construction. They use two bands of webbing on the outside of the 3.5 inch waistbelt, with a foam insert in the center for padding and comfort. The legs have a trakFIT adjustment system, which uses a sliding adjuster to change the size of the leg loop, as opposed to a buckle system. According to Black Diamond, this gives you the "adjustability of a buckle but the security of a fixed leg system." It has four rigid, plastic coated gear loops and a rear haul loop.

The latest version of this harness is comfortable, versatile, and...
The latest version of this harness is comfortable, versatile, and very affordable.
Photo: Scott Ring

Standing & Hanging Comfort

With a wide, 3.5 inch waistbelt, the Primrose was one of the most comfortable harnesses to hang in and load with gear. Black Diamond has changed the construction of this harness a little from the previous SA version, and our testers found it slightly more comfortable than that model as it seems to have more padding. The old SA version had an OpenAir insert to try and improve breathability, but we still got a sweaty back when climbing in warm weather. This newer waistbelt has a more closed construction, but is not as stiff as the older model and it's now even more comfortable to wear all day than before. If you plan on climbing in tropical climates, then the Mammut Zephira has an open-back mesh design, and should keep you drier. This harness is a little bulkier than the Zephira or sport-specific Black Diamond Siren; you might forget you are wearing those models when belaying or hiking with them on. It's not quite as comfortable as our Editors' Choice winning Camp Supernova either, but overall this harness does a good job of finding the sweet spot between a padded harness that won't make your toes go numb and something that's not too bulky and can be left on all day.

Our testers found this harness comfortable to hang in, whether...
Our testers found this harness comfortable to hang in, whether working out the beta on a sport climb or on long multi-pitch routes.
Photo: Scott Ring

Discipline-Specific Features

This harness fits the bill quite nicely for an all-around and entry level harness. The speed-adjust buckle is easy to tighten and you don't have to worry about doubling back the waistbelt every time you put it on. The older AL version of this harness had a traditional, fold-back waist buckle, but that type of buckle seems to have finally bit the dust. All of the harnesses in this updated review have speed adjust/pre-threaded waistbelt buckles. The gear loops are encased in hard plastic, leaving them rigid and standing out from the side of your harness. This makes them very easy to clip gear to and unclip gear from, though they are not as comfortable if wearing your pack and harness at the same time. The gear loops are appropriately positioned for easy reach to the front and back loops, unlike the Petzl Luna and Petzl Selena harnesses, which have frustratingly far away rear gear loops. This harness also has a haul loop which is handy if you are trailing a haul line up a multi-pitch route. All told, it is comfortable enough for a long day out but not too bulky to sport climb in.

The gear loops are rigid and stick out from the sides of the...
The gear loops are rigid and stick out from the sides of the waistbelt for easy clipping and unclipping.
Photo: Scott Ring


While not quite as mobile as the ultra-light harnesses out there, our testers were still able to climb with ease in this harness in everything from balance-y face climbs, to chimneys, to overhanging sport routes. The waistbelt does not have any uncomfortable pressure points and fits snugly and securely high on the body; the adjustable legs also allow you to adjust the harness perfectly for unencumbered movement.

High stepping was no problem in the last version of this harness.
High stepping was no problem in the last version of this harness.
Photo: Scott Ring


The Primrose is a great all-around harness that works well in most climbing applications. The comfortable waistbelt and easy to clip rigid gear loops make loading the harness with gear for multi-pitch trad climbs just as easy as racking up for a single pitch sport climb. It has a sturdy rear haul loop, unlike the Mammut models which have only a p-cord style loop, so you can clip your tag line or water bottle to it without worrying that the weight of it is going to rip it out. The one feature it lacks is a loop for ice tool holders, so it will not cross-over to winter use as easily as the Black Diamond Lotus or Arc'teryx AR-385a.

This model transitioned well from sport to trad, but it lacks ice...
This model transitioned well from sport to trad, but it lacks ice clipper slots.
Photo: Scott Ring


Using Black Diamond's innovative leg loop adjustment system, this harness manages to be surprisingly lightweight and inexpensive for a fully-featured and adjustable harness. The trakFIT leg loop system is a unique method of adjusting the size of the loops. Rather than a buckle, this system consists of a plastic slider on the leg loops that moves easily around the leg loop to adjust the size quickly and effortlessly. The slider is small and light, and does not need to be double-backed, so it adds almost no weight or complication to the harness, while allowing it to fit women of all proportions. This also means you can wear this harness over leggings at the gym and heavier pants outside on a colder day. The drawback to this system is that you cannot remove the leg loops from this harness, though this is a non-issue for most climbers. The rear leg loop holders release individually to aid in bathroom breaks if needed, and we did not have any issues with them undoing unintentionally.

Black Diamond's trakFIT slider. The elastic underneath the webbing...
Black Diamond's trakFIT slider. The elastic underneath the webbing adjusts with the sliding buckle. It's not as adjustable as a real buckle/webbing leg loop, but there is no extra webbing flapping around on your legs which is nice.
Photo: Scott Ring

Best Applications

This is a great all-around harness or first harness. It works well in the gym, at sport crags or on multi-pitch climbs. It is a comfortable, easy to wear harness in any application, but it doesn't have any ice clipper slots so if you think you will be swinging some tools in your future then the Black Diamond Lotus or Camp Supernova are a better choice.

If you like to clip bolts one day and jam cracks the next, but don't...
If you like to clip bolts one day and jam cracks the next, but don't see yourself climbing ice anytime soon, this harness is a great choice.
Photo: Scott Ring


This is one of the best values in harnesses with adjustable leg loops. You only have to pay a few dollars more than the Mammut Ophira to get adjustable legs and a haul line, which we believe is worth it for the added convenience and versatility. This harness is durable enough to last you years and versatile enough to be used for anything, increasing its worth, which is why we've given it our Best Buy award. To further maximize your dollars, you can buy the Primrose harness package, with includes this harness, a chalk bag, and a belay device and locking carabiner, for a total of $100. This is an excellent buy for someone just getting started in the sport of climbing.

This model is affordable, comfortable, and fairly versatile.
This model is affordable, comfortable, and fairly versatile.
Photo: Scott Ring


We've seen the older version of this harness at crags and gyms all across the country for a reason, and this updated model is sure to be just as popular. It's affordable and comfortable, which is not always an easy feat for a manufacturer. Although it's deemed an "entry level" harness, we know many expert climbers who use it for those very reasons as well. While we prefer the Camp Supernova as a high-end sport or all-around harness, the Black Diamond Primrose is a good bet for any climber.

Other Versions

The men's version is the Black Diamond Momentum.

Cam McKenzie Ring & McKenzie Long