CAMP Supernova Review
Cons: High-rise might not fit everyone, less durable than other harnesses
Manufacturer: CAMP USA
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Camp Supernova harness weighs 12.8 ounces and is constructed using a Modified Edge Load technique. The interior of the waistbelt has a split webbing design, with the upper webbing contouring around the top edge, and the lower webbing contouring through the middle (as opposed to the bottom), to prevent it from cupping or contorting. The waistbelt is 3.75 inches at its widest and has 3 mm EVA foam padding inside. It has four plastic-covered gear loops that have flexible attachment points, as well as two attachment points in the back: one for a chalk bag and a structural haul loop. It also has an ice clipper slot on each side between the gear loops and a "No-Twist" belay loop.
The Supernova is touted as being designed "by women, for women," and we're inclined to believe the hype. It has one of the most comfortable and body contouring waistbelts that we've ever climbed in. It contours around the waist and above the hip bones, and then widens to an impressive nearly 4 inches in the back. Our testers found this harness very comfortable to wear all day, and barely noticed it was on thanks to the narrow belt around the front.
We preferred this design much more than that of the Petzl Luna and Petzl Selena, which is actually narrower at the back and then flares out around the hip bones. While that design might work well for men, who wear their harness on their hips, through informal polling of our lady climber friends we've determined that the majority of women (75-80%) wear their harness above their hips at their waist. There were a couple of models that were slightly more comfortable to stand, hike or belay in, but none beat the Supernova for hanging comfort.
This harness was very comfortable to hang in, particularly considering its lightweight nature.
According to Camp, it was originally conceived as a high-end sport climbing model. Many manufacturers seem to forget that sport climbers spend a lot of time hanging in their harnesses, either working a hard project or belaying someone who is, and forgo the padding on the waistbelt. The Supernova has 3 mm of EVA foam padding in the waistbelt and leg loops, which is not super beefy, but coupled with the extra-wide band in the back, it makes this harness surprisingly comfortable to hang in.
The Supernova has quite a few unique features, most of which we liked. They designed the back of this harness for a chimneying enthusiast. The leg loops attachment point is on the legs themselves, so there is no buckle or clip digging into your back when squeezed into a chimney. This also makes it less likely to accidentally detach itself in that scenario or when wearing a pack on top of your harness.
This harness, like most of Camp's, has their patented "No-Twist" belay loop. The belay loop has a slot sewn into it for your belay carabiner to go through, which prevents it from cross-loading when catching a fall. If the anti-cross-loading carabiners out there drive you nuts, like the Magnetron Gridlock Carabiner, then you'll love this design feature. It also comes with a structurally integrated haul loop, as well as an additional clip-in point above it for a chalk bag or rappel device. The one weird aspect of the design of this harness is that it closes on the right. This takes a little getting used to when you've been closing your harness on the other side for the last 20 years! Other than that, its features make it an excellent choice for both sport and traditional climbing.
This truly is a versatile all-around harness. Sometimes we feel that all-around harnesses are trad climbing harnesses that you can also wear sport climbing because there aren't too many specific features that you need for that style of climbing. But more lightweight sport-specific harnesses are now on the market, and there seems to be a demand for lighter and less constricting designs. The Supernova fits both bills equally well.
The gear loops are deep and can easily hold a double set of cams (for those who like to rack on their harness), and when sport climbing, your quickdraws will stay within easy reach even on steep terrain. There are even two ice clipper slots, though some more alpine-specific harnesses have four.
We appreciate that Camp included adjustable leg loops on the Supernova, which most sport-specific harnesses don't have to cut down on the extra weight from a buckle. This can make it hard to size a harness if the circumference of your legs in proportion to your waist doesn't meet up with whatever the manufacturer has deemed "average" (and they seem to all have different ideas of what that even is).
The leg loops on this model can adjust up to 4 inches, and there is enough room in the waistbelt for it to fit over a fleece or softshell when climbing in colder weather. Some adjustable leg loops end up being more webbing than padding, but these still offer good coverage around the back and sides of the legs.
The Supernova is on the pricier end of the spectrum. You do truly get an all-around harness that can be used for every style of climbing, so in that sense, it is a good value. The one concern we have with this harness is the durability of the material. One of our testers uses this model as her personal harness, and after a year of intense use, she noticed substantial wear on her leg loops. She did use this harness extensively in that time, and in Red Rock, which is known for being tough on soft goods. If you're mainly scraping your body up desert sandstone routes, you may want to consider another harness. However, we are not sure that any material can actually hold up to those conditions!
While other harness manufacturers have a "female" version of most harnesses in their line up, these models seem to be identical versions of the men's, only in purple. Camp went back to the drawing board with the Supernova and designed a harness that complements a woman's physique and unique proportions. They also made it comfortable, lightweight, and completely versatile, and it blew all the competition out of the water. From sport to trad, to alpine and ice, our Editors' Choice winner can do it all, and do it in style.
— Cam McKenzie Ring