Petzl's latest update of their popular Selena harness has some significant changes from the older model. The new version has more padding in the waistbelt and is more comfortable, but not very breathable. The leg loops are also different — instead of a continuous band, there is now an elastic spreader to accommodate different thigh sizes. However, Petzl is still using the same type of waistbelt as the men's version, which is meant to contour around your hips. If you wear your harness on your hips, it will probably fit you fine, but if you like it to ride on your waist, it doesn't feel as comfortable. Those ladies should check out the Camp Supernova or Black Diamond Solution instead.
Petzl Selena Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Comfortable if you like to wear your harness on your hips, not your waist
Cons: Rear gear loops are small and hard to reach, haul loop not full strength
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Selena is very similar to the men's version, the Sama, which won our Editors' Choice award. While both the men's and women's versions are quite popular and well-made, we know more women who can't get a good fit in this harness versus those who can. Petzl keeps updating it to make it suit a women's physique better, but they still use the same waistband as the men's, which is part of the problem. Read on to find out why. Below you'll see a side-by-side comparison of the new 2018 Selena and the older model.
Petzl has tweaked a few things from the men's version to make it suit a women's physique better: the Selena had a longer rise and the leg loops are larger relative to the waistbelt size. We appreciate these efforts; however, they use the same waistbelt as the men's which is part of why we didn't find it so comfortable. The waistbelt is designed to sit on the hips, and it gets wider around the hipbone area. That's great if you wear your harness around your hips, but more often than not women prefer to wear it above them and around their natural waist. (This is from our informal poll of a dozen or so climbing ladies.) If you do wear this one around the waist, there is so much material at the hip bone that it digs into the ribs and is quite uncomfortable.
Those that do like to wear it around their hips tend to have a shorter rise and a "boxier" figure, i.e., more similar to a man's hipbone structure. However, the newer version has a longer rise, and so now there is extra material bunching up on the shorter-rise ladies. Long story short, we feel like this harness is just a mish-mash of proportions that don't fit a large segment of the female population. We'd love to see Petzl start from scratch and design something for ladies from the ground up the way Camp has, as opposed to just tweaking the men's version over and over.
We appreciated the extra padding that this model has vs. the older version, but due to the fit issues we just described it wasn't that comfortable for hanging in either. Look to the Misty Mountain Silhouette for long-routes with hanging belays, or the Black Diamond Solution for a comfortable sport climbing harness.
As a sport climbing harness, the Selena gets the job done fairly well, but it isn't that breathable should you climb a lot in warm weather. The back gear loops are small and hard to reach, but you can fit at least six draws on both of the front gear loops, which is usually sufficient. The older version of this harness did have ice tool clipper slots, but those are gone now. The leg loops are easy to detach in the rear (there is a plastic buckle on each strap), but those buckles are fairly uncomfortable pushing up against your low back when chimneying, something you're not likely to encounter though if you only use it for sport climbing.
We found that this version has pretty good mobility, though something about the new leg loop design bunches up on us a bit.
This harness is not that versatile. It's hard to carry a lot of gear on it, and while it works okay for sport climbing, there's not a ton of ventilation in the waistbelt. This is more of a cool weather sport harness than anything else.
The newer leg loops have a lot more flexibility than the older ones, and you can get several inches of play from them. Those that know that they have larger legs relative to their waists should look to the Petzl Luna, which is very similar to the Selena but with adjustable leg loops.
The Selena works well for sport or gym climbing but is not the best for trad routes since it's hard to fit a lot of gear on it. If you like the looks of this one but mostly trad climb, the Petzl Luna had a 5th gear loop in the rear.
This harness retails for $70, which is a reasonable price for a sport-specific harness. The Black Diamond Momentum retails for only $55, should you want to save a bit, and it fit a larger proportion of our female testers better than the Selena.
The Petzl Selena didn't score very high in our tests primarily because it didn't fit the majority of our testers. There is a segment of the female climbing population that it does fit well though, so you may love the fit and comfort of this model.
— Cam McKenzie Ring