Hands-on Gear Review

CAMP Supernova Review

The best all-around harness in our test group - not specialized for any one thing but good at a lot of things.
By: Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 6, 2018
Price:  $90 List  |  $89.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, and versatile
Cons:  High-rise might not fit everyone, less durable than other harnesses
Manufacturer:   CAMP USA
87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Standing Comfort - 20% 8
  • Hanging Comfort - 20% 9
  • Features - 20% 9
  • Mobility - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 9
  • Adjustability - 10% 9
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  • 5
Editors' Choice Award

Our Verdict

Camp lists over 16 different harnesses on their website, and the Supernova is the only women's specific design among them. While our first reaction is to be a little miffed that they don't offer us ladies any other options, at least the one they do offer is, in our opinion, outstanding. The Supernova is comfortable and lightweight, truly versatile, and delivers a new standard for an all-around harness. The waistbelt contours specifically to a woman's figure, and we even liked the colors (blue and green), which are a departure from the typical purples and pinks found on other women's harnesses. We tested this harness on steep sport routes and multi-pitch trad adventures, and it excelled in all conditions. Its closest competition was the Arc'teryx AR-385a, and if you were mostly ice climbing, we'd recommend that harness instead as it has four ice clipper slots (this harness only has two). Otherwise, the Supernova is the harness for us and our new Editors' Choice pick. If you are looking to save a few dollars, then our Best Buy winner, the Black Diamond Momentum, is also a good option and quite a bit cheaper.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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.

Performance Comparison


Our Editors' Choice winner worked as well on steep sport climbs as long traditional routes. Here Karen Sahn moves with ease through a classic Red Rock clip-up.
Our Editors' Choice winner worked as well on steep sport climbs as long traditional routes. Here Karen Sahn moves with ease through a classic Red Rock clip-up.

Standing Comfort


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, like the Mammut Zephir and Arc'teryx FL-355. You can almost forget you are wearing those harnesses until you hang in them of course. That's where the Supernova has them beat.

Sleek and slim  we loved the design of the Supernova. It's breathable and contours nicely around our waist.
Sleek and slim, we loved the design of the Supernova. It's breathable and contours nicely around our waist.

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 actually 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 wide  padded waistbelt is comfortable to hang in on long routes  and its contoured shape keeps it from feeling too bulky in the front.
The wide, padded waistbelt is comfortable to hang in on long routes, and its contoured shape keeps it from feeling too bulky in the front.

Discipline-Specific Features


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.



When purchasing a harness for traditional climbing, always inspect the back of the harness. You'll be better off with a model that has a smooth back with no buckles or plastic clips that will dig into your back when chimneying or doing other "awkward" trad moves.

There's no buckle on the waist for the leg loops  which you'll appreciate when chimneying or wearing a pack over this harness. There's also a haul line loop and an extra clip-in loop for your chalk bag or extra gear in the rear.
There's no buckle on the waist for the leg loops, which you'll appreciate when chimneying or wearing a pack over this harness. There's also a haul line loop and an extra clip-in loop for your chalk bag or extra gear in the rear.

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.

The "No Twist" belay loop. Just slide your carabiner through the slot in the belay loop and then attach your belay device. This prevents the carabiner from cross-loading when catching a fall  and also saves you from hassling with an anti-crossloading carabiner.
The "No Twist" belay loop. Just slide your carabiner through the slot in the belay loop and then attach your belay device. This prevents the carabiner from cross-loading when catching a fall, and also saves you from hassling with an anti-crossloading carabiner.

Mobility


Our testers found this harness easy to move in, whether high stepping, making awkward moves in a corner, or throwing heel hooks and back stepping on a sport route.


This harness moved on our bodies much better than the Petzl Luna and is not as stiff as the Mad Rock Venus.

High stepping in our Editors' Choice winning harness is no problem.
High stepping in our Editors' Choice winning harness is no problem.

Versatility


This truly is a versatile all-around harness. Sometimes we feel that all-around harnesses are really 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, however, if you plan on climbing a lot of ice or mixed routes you may prefer the Arc'teryx AR-385a as it has four slots.

The deep gear loops can easily accommodate your rack and extra webbing for building anchors.
The deep gear loops can easily accommodate your rack and extra webbing for building anchors.

Adjustability


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, like on the Black Diamond Technician, but these still offer good coverage around the back and sides of the legs.

The adjustable leg loops are low profile and still gave us good padding coverage.
The adjustable leg loops are low profile and still gave us good padding coverage.

Best Applications


Sport climbing, trad climbing, alpine climbing and even ice. This harness can do it all. If you are looking for something specifically for sport climbing, the Black Diamond Solution is a great harness. If plugging cams on long routes is your main interest, then the Misty Mountain Silhouette is a beefy and comfortable option for big days out. But for those looking for an all-around option, the Supernova is our number one choice.

Lead tester Cam McKenzie Ring high above the ground in Arrow Canyon  Nevada  testing Camp's only female specific harness. Our Editors' Choice winner is lightweight and versatile  working well on sport and trad climbs alike.
Lead tester Cam McKenzie Ring high above the ground in Arrow Canyon, Nevada, testing Camp's only female specific harness. Our Editors' Choice winner is lightweight and versatile, working well on sport and trad climbs alike.

Value


The Supernova costs $90, which is a little more expensive than many of the other models that we tested. 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, although we are not sure that any material can actually hold up to those conditions!

Significant wear on the leg loops of one of our tester's personal harness after a year of daily use.
Significant wear on the leg loops of one of our tester's personal harness after a year of daily use.

Conclusion


While other harness manufacturers have a "female" version of most, or all, of their lineup, often 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 from the bottom up a harness that compliments 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

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