Hands-on Gear Review

Mammut Zephir Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $90 List | $62.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, mobile, breathable
Cons:  Minimal padding, gear loops send draws out of reach, not versatile
Bottom line:  Our favorite harness to wear at the gym.
Editors' Rating:   
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Designed for these Disciplines:  Sport, Gym
Weight in ounces (size small):  9.5
Gear Loops:  4 (2 rigid, 2 flexible)
Manufacturer:   Mammut

Our Verdict

The Mammut Zephir is an ultralight sport and gym climbing harness. It has a wide, 3.5-inch waistbelt for comfortable belays and hangdog sessions, and the construction allows for maximum ventilation and airflow. Of all of the harnesses that we tested, this is our top choice for sweaty gym sessions or your next beach/warm weather climbing destination. Our biggest beef with this minimalist harness is the gear loops; the molded and angled design sends your quickdraws shooting to your backside whenever the climbing gets steep, leaving you grasping at nothing instead of your next clip. If you only climb in a gym or locale with fixed draws, this shouldn't bother you too much. If you need to carry your draws and want them to be easily accessible, we loved the Black Diamond Solution harness, our Top Pick for Sport Climbing.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Climbing Harness for Women


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring
Senior Review Editor

Last Updated:
Monday
August 6, 2018

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The Mammut Zephir harness is constructed with Split Webbing technology. The main structural webbing for the waistbelt splits into two strands that angle away from each other around the back of the waist. This leaves a 3.5-inch wide interior mesh section with only minimal padding but a lot of airflow. It has two long, plastic-molded gear loops at the front and two smaller ones at the back. This was the lightest harness that we tested, weighing only 9.5 ounces.

Performance Comparison


The Zephir is lightweight and has great mobility  and the waistbelt is highly breathable. The main thing we didn't like about it was the gear loops.
The Zephir is lightweight and has great mobility, and the waistbelt is highly breathable. The main thing we didn't like about it was the gear loops.

Standing Comfort


This was one of the lightest harnesses that we tested. It weighs only 9.5 ounces, and we noticed a difference between this harness and the Edelrid Jayne II, which is 5 ounces heavier.


While this weight difference is probably negligible when it comes to performance, it can contribute to comfort, both positively and negatively. For our Standing Comfort metric, the Mammut Zephir came out on top - our testers barely noticed that the harness was on while standing around at the crag and belaying. Best of all, the airflow in the back helped us stay cooler on hot days both at the gym and the crag.

This harness has a low profile design and we barely noticed it when belaying  hiking around  or sitting down at the crag.
This harness has a low profile design and we barely noticed it when belaying, hiking around, or sitting down at the crag.

Hanging Comfort


The minimal padding in the waistbelt and leg loops resulted in this not being the most comfortable harness to actually "hang out" in.


While the wide waistbelt did do a better job of distributing the load than the Mad Rock Venus, we soon felt the lack of padding in our hang test. This harness is comfortable enough for belaying and hang-dogging on a hard sport climb, but it's not the one we'd want to do a long route in.

We preferred this harness over any other on sweaty gym days thanks to the open mesh on the waistbelt.
We preferred this harness over any other on sweaty gym days thanks to the open mesh on the waistbelt.

Discipline-Specific Features


Mammut designed this model as an "extremely light high-end sport climbing harness tailored to the female anatomy." We thought that they did a great job in achieving a light harness that fit most of our testers well, particularly those with a longer rise (the distance between the leg loops and where the harness sits on the waist) and those who have medium to large legs. However, we did not like the gear loops on this harness.


The over-sized front gear loop can easily hold ten quickdraws, which is great, but it has a forward-angle design that we found annoying. While we presume the designers thought it would keep the draws towards the front of the gear loop, as soon as the angle steepens, it actually ends up acting like a ramp that shoots them to the back of the loop and out of the normal reach of where your draws should be. This is particularly noticeable when there are only a few draws left on your harness. If you are only climbing slabs, then you might never notice this issue, but for a harness specially designed for high-end sport climbing (which tends to be steep), we think these gear loops are a misfire.

Our quickdraws shot to the back of the extra long gear loop and out of the normal spot by our hipbone. This left us grasping at air instead of a quickdraw on steep routes.
Our quickdraws shot to the back of the extra long gear loop and out of the normal spot by our hipbone. This left us grasping at air instead of a quickdraw on steep routes.

There are some other unique features on the Zephir though. The belay loop has red wear-indicator threads sewn into it. When the belay loop becomes abraded and worn, those threads will show through, letting you know that it is time to replace your harness. We should note here that the belay loop on this harness is made of 10mm Dyneema webbing, and is half the size of the belay loops on the other models that we tested. Belay loops tend to get a lot of wear, and our concern with this loop is that it might not last as long as a wider, beefier loop. Once your belay loop is worn out, you are pretty much left with no option but to retire your harness or see if the manufacturer will sew a new one on for you (not likely). One final great feature is the point where the leg loops are attached to the belay loop, which is reinforced with plastic to minimize wear at that high-friction spot.

The protector on the bottom tie-in point is made of plastic and is meant to increase the longevity of your harness.
The protector on the bottom tie-in point is made of plastic and is meant to increase the longevity of your harness.

Mobility


The Zephir scored high for mobility. The minimalist, lightweight design never weighed our testers down, and the extra-long elastic on the leg loops gave us an excellent range of motion during high-steps and heel hooks.


We liked the mobility of this harness as much as the Black Diamond Solution and a little more than the Arc'teryx FL-355. The leg loops on the FL-355 are sized a little tighter than the Zephir's, which felt a little constricting and impeded our movement a slight bit.

Whether stretching out  rocking up on to one foot  heel hooking or drop-kneeing  the Zephir never got in our way.
Whether stretching out, rocking up on to one foot, heel hooking or drop-kneeing, the Zephir never got in our way.

Versatility


The Mammut Zephir is not the most versatile harness; it really is a gym- and sport-specific model.


It has a small bungee cord gear loop that is suitable for a chalk bag, but we'd hesitate to clip a trailing rope to it. While you could fit a lot of gear on the main over-sized gear loop, we wouldn't want to spend too much time at a hanging belay due to the minimal padding on the waistbelt. Additionally, the waist belt does not have any ice clipper slots. If you are looking for a truly versatile harness that you can use for all types of climbing, then we'd recommend our Editors' Choice pick, the Camp Supernova, or our Top Pick for Trad Climbing, the Misty Mountain Silhouette.

Adjustability


The non-adjustable leg loops are comfortably sized, and we could wear this harness over leggings or jeans, but it would be difficult to try and wear it over winter pants for ice climbing.


The leg loop attachment point is low-profile and easy to detach, and in fact, it detached itself when we were hiking around in it with a pack on!

These legs loops have a long piece of elastic in them to increase mobility and to help it fit a (small) range of thigh sizes.
These legs loops have a long piece of elastic in them to increase mobility and to help it fit a (small) range of thigh sizes.

Best Applications


The Zephir harness is best suited for sport and gym climbing. This model would be our top choice if we were in the market for a gym-only harness.

Value


At $100, this model is actually on the expensive end, particularly considering that it is not very versatile. However, it is ultra-lightweight, so if shaving every ounce off your gear is important to you then perhaps the price tag is worth it. For half the price, you can get the Black Diamond Momentum, which is a slightly more versatile model.

Conclusion


The Mammut Zephir is surprisingly comfortable given its lightweight design, and if you hate having a sweaty back and climb in warm places, then this could be the harness for you. We didn't like the design of the gear loops, as they made it difficult to find our clips on steep routes, but if you're always clipping fixed draws or only climbing at the gym, then this wouldn't be an issue for you.

Cam McKenzie Ring

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