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Mammut Zephira Review

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Price:  $100 List | $71.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, very mobile
Cons:  Little padding, gear loops send draws out of reach
Manufacturer:   Mammut
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 17, 2015
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64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Standing Comfort - 20% 9
  • Hanging Comfort - 20% 6
  • Features - 20% 4
  • Mobility - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 4
  • Adjustability - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Mammut Zephira is super lightweight and ideal for sport and gym climbing. 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 for your next beach/warm weather climbing destination. Our biggest beef with this minimalist harness is the gear loops; the molded and angled design actually sends your quickdraws shooting to your backside whenever the climbing gets steep, leaving you grasping for air instead of your next clip. If you only climb in a gym or locale with fixed draws, this shouldn't bother you, but otherwise we'd recommend the light and sport-specific Black Diamond Siren harness instead.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mammut Zephira 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 very little padding but lots of airflow. It has two long, plastic-molded gear loops at the front and two smaller ones at the back.

Performance Comparison



AMGA Rock Guide Elaina Arenz testing out the Zephira harness on some crimpy sandstone.
AMGA Rock Guide Elaina Arenz testing out the Zephira harness on some crimpy sandstone.

Standing & Hanging Comfort


This was one of the lightest harnesses that we tested. It weighs only 10 ounces, and we could really notice a difference between this harness and the Petzl Luna, 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 Zephira came out on top - our testers barely noticed that the harness was on while standing around at the crag and belaying. However, the minimal padding means that it is not the most comfortable harness to actually "hang out" in. While the wide waistbelt did do a better job of distributing the load than the narrower Black Diamond Siren, we soon felt the lack of padding in our hang test. Though we felt that this harness was comfortable enough for belaying and hang-dogging on a hard sport climb, this would not be a harness we would want to do a long route in.

The wide  open mesh waist belt offers plenty of airflow but little padding  making this harness more suited to sweaty gym climbing than long multi-pitch routes.
The wide, open mesh waist belt offers plenty of airflow but little padding, making this harness more suited to sweaty gym climbing than long multi-pitch routes.

Discipline-Specific Features


Mammut designed this model as an "extremely light high-end sports climbing harness tailored to the female anatomy." Our testers found 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 specifically designed for high-end sport climbing (which tends to be steep), we think these gear loops are a misfire. The design of the Black Diamond Siren was much more climber-friendly, as the plastic divider on the long gear loop keeps your draws from moving too far out of reach.

The angled  plastic-molded gear loops are supposed to keep your draws forward  but as soon as the angle steepens they go shooting towards the back  making them difficult to find during tricky clips.
The angled, plastic-molded gear loops are supposed to keep your draws forward, but as soon as the angle steepens they go shooting towards the back, making them difficult to find during tricky clips.

There are some other unique features on the Zephira 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 leg loop attachment point on the Zephira (left) is reinforced with rubber to minimize wear and tear and increase the longevity of your harness.
The leg loop attachment point on the Zephira (left) is reinforced with rubber to minimize wear and tear and increase the longevity of your harness.

Mobility


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

High-stepping was easy in this harness thanks to the extra elastic on the leg loops.
High-stepping was easy in this harness thanks to the extra elastic on the leg loops.

Versatility & Adjustability


The Mammut Zephira is not the most versatile harness; it really is a gym- and sport-specific model. It has a bungee cord gear loop that is suitable for a chalk bag but we'd hesitate to clip a trailing rope to it, and 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. 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. Additionally, the waistbelt does not have any ice clipper slots. That said, the leg loops are fully detachable at both the rear and belay loop. The rear hook is easy to detach, and in fact it detached itself when we were hiking around in it with a pack on. 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 Ice Climbing and Trad, the Black Diamond Lotus.

This harness will fit over tights of jeans thanks to the long elastic on the leg loops  but it's not quite as versatile as a fully adjustable model.
This harness will fit over tights of jeans thanks to the long elastic on the leg loops, but it's not quite as versatile as a fully adjustable model.

Best Applications


The Mammut Zephira 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.

Testing the Zephira at the gym. The mesh back prevented us from getting sweaty and the gear loops didn't bother us because all the draws are pre-hung.
Testing the Zephira at the gym. The mesh back prevented us from getting sweaty and the gear loops didn't bother us because all the draws are pre-hung.

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 Primrose that also has a ventilated waistbelt and is a slightly more versatile model.

Conclusion


The Mammut Zephira harness 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 really 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