The Venus harness is an inexpensive option from Mad Rock. Often sold in a "starter pack," with a chalk bag and belay device, we can see this harness appealing to entry-level climbers. It doesn't have a lot of padding or the split-webbing engineering found in more expensive models, and we could tell the difference when hanging in it. We liked the comfort better on the Black Diamond Momentum, our Best Buy winner, which costs only $5 more.
Mad Rock Venus Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Adjustable leg loops, inexpensive
Cons: Minimal padding, stiff construction, lower rise
Manufacturer: Mad Rock
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mad Rock Venus has a single strand of webbing as the primary structure of the waistbelt (with padding built up around it). It has adjustable leg loops and a full-strength haul loop.
We gave the Venus a lower score for standing comfort for several reasons. The material is stiff and not very pliable, which we noticed when sitting or just hanging out in the harness. Also, the rise is on the low side, so if you try to wear this one on your waist, the front of the waist belt then digs into you a little bit. This harness is better for those who like to wear their harness lower on their hips.
The construction of the Venus's waistbelt is fairly simple — there's a single strand of one-inch webbing tacked on to the "padding" on the waistbelt (we use quotation marks because there is little padding there). When you weight this harness you can feel that all of the pressure is in that one inch of webbing. Other harnesses use dual or even triple webbing systems to disperse the load over a greater area, and the difference is noticeable. We preferred the hanging comfort of the Black Diamond Solution over this model for that reason.
The Venus is more of an attempt at an all-around harness than a discipline-specific one. It weighs 13.1 ounces in the size small that we tested, but it feels a little bulkier than some of the sleek sport specific harness. There is a full strength haul loop, which you don't always get out of a sport harness, but the rear leg loops are secured with large buckles, which is never comfortable when chimneying. We look for comfort in our all-around models for those long days on the rock, but this one just didn't deliver so well. Look to the Camp Supernova, our Editors' Choice winner, for a comfortable and functional multi-use harness.
The stiffness of the material on this harness impacted our mobility a bit. It's possible that this one loosens up with wear, but in the first few months that we used the Venus it didn't get noticeably softer.
The Venus is best used for single-pitch climbing (since we didn't find it too comfortable to hang in). The gear loops can hold quite a bit though, so you could easily use it for traditional climbing.
The Venus has adjustable leg loops, which helped give it a good score for adjustability. The risers in the back are easy to adjust as well.
The Mad Rock Venus is a low-cost entry-level harness that is a good choice for people who are getting started in the sport. It also comes in various starter packs with a chalk bag, belay device and locking carabiner, and we've seen that package for only $50, which is a great bargain.
At $50, this is the least expensive harness in our test group. However, we thought the $55 Black Diamond Momentum was a lot more comfortable, and that's why it won our Best Buy award over the Venus.
The Mad Rock Venus lacked enough comfort for us to recommend it whole-heartedly, but it still gets the job done, and when purchased as a starter pack it is an incredible value. Pick this one up if you are new to climbing and need to get a lot of gear at once but don't have an unlimited budget to do it with.
— Cam McKenzie Ring