The Arc'teryx FL-365 is a streamlined harness with fixed elastic leg loops that effectively snug up to the perfect fit regardless of how much clothing is being worn underneath. It is essentially the exact same harness as the slightly more expensive Arc'teryx AR-395a, except for the difference in leg loop design. It is versatile for all styles of climbing, from rock to ice, and is notable for its very supple design that uses Arc'teryx's Warp Strength Technology to make a very thin, but wide, waist belt and leg loops which move easily as you do and are easy to stuff into the climbing pack. The main knock against this harness is its price tag, which is a bit out of line when considering the higher performing options for around half the cost.
Arc'teryx FL-365 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Automatically cinching elastic leg loops, large amount of gear storage, four ice clipper slots
Cons: Expensive, not super light, not very comfortable for belaying
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Despite the "Fast and Light" connotation that comes from the "FL" in its name, this harness is only 0.6 ounces lighter than the Arc'teryx AR-395a, and the only noticeable difference is in the design of the leg loops. Instead of the clunky adjustable buckles, these leg loops have retractable elastic bands that stretch as much as needed to put the harness on, but then cinch up snug against the leg once in place, an innovative design that we like. For this reason, we actually enjoy this harness more than the AR-395a, and would recommend it first not only for its more refined design, but also its slightly lower price tag.
This harness uses Warp Strength Technology to disperse the weight of a climber throughout the entire waist and leg loops, rather than a design where there is a thin piece of webbing with padding over the top. It seems to work quite well, but the design also has far and away the fattest (bottom to top) waist belt of any that we have tested. Where it rests against the middle of the lower back we like the fat design, but when hanging we noticed that because it is so fat on the side of the body as well, it crushes in against our kidneys and lower ribs even more than most. We also have a problem with the leg loop design. Since it is made of such a thin piece of webbing, it tends to twist and gouge into our femoral region on the inside of the leg more than most. Don't get us wrong, no harness is all that comfy to hang in for protracted amounts of time, but compared to the Black Diamond Solution or even the Petzl Adjama, which we chose to recognize as our top choice for multi-pitching, this one is not very comfortable.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
The largest advantage to the design of this harness is that it's very supple and mobile. We love how the harness moves with us as we walk about. That said, the very fat waist belt again presents a bit of a problem for us on warm days, when we find it to be quite sweaty. Also, when carrying a large rack, we feel it tends to slip down and chafe a bit. The freely moving gear loops and the very thin waist belt make this a great choice for wearing under a pack, and its mobility makes it a good choice for alpine and mountaineering use. However, due to its bulk, we find it to be far more noticeable to wear than the super lightweight Petzl Sitta.
This harness has all of the features you could conceive of a harness having, but we don't like the way that they perform quite as much as the features found on the Petzl Adjama. It has four large, plastic covered gear loops that are easy to clip and flexibly rest against the body, but we don't like how they taper downward to a point (we prefer a flat gear loop) because then all the biners crowd into each other and try to overlap, making it harder to unclip the one you need quickly. We also find that the sewn on keepers for the webbing tail of the doubled-back waist buckle require the tail to be woven amongst the gear loops, and it gets in the way of our clipping once again. This harness does have the nice option of four ice clipper slots, and we think that the design of the elastic leg loops is superior to the bulk of the adjustable buckles found on the AR-395a, and so rated this one slightly higher for features.
This harness is more comfortable to belay in than the AR-395a. We find that when holding a climbing friend while belaying their weight is localized almost entirely on the leg loops, particularly as they wrap around the inside of the leg. These leg loops taper significantly in this region, and the added bulk means that we were more likely to need to adjust how it is hanging quite a bit, but also means that the sharp edges of the webbing don't gouge into our skin as badly as it does on the AR-395a. Even still, we don' find extended belay duty in this harness to be anywhere near as pleasurable as while wearing the Petzl Sama.
This is a very versatile harness, usable for sport climbing, trad and long free routes, and even ice and alpine climbing. With its thin waist belt we feel like it is even a good choice for mountaineering. However, it is heavier and bulkier, and not quite as comfortable as the harness we consider to be the most versatile, the Petzl Sitta, and its fairly snug fixed leg loops do not provide the same level of adjustability as the AR-395a, which we also rated slightly higher for this metric.
We would recommend this harness for nearly any climbing purpose, and indeed it is one of the most versatile, making it a good buy for those who like to do all styles of climbing, adjusting as the season does. Sport, trad, long free, ice, alpine, and mountaineering are all within the range of possibilities in this harness.
Retail price for the Arc'teryx FL-365 is $145US, which is $15 less than the very similar AR-395a. Since we actually like the leg loop options on this harness better, we think it is a better buy considering it's also a bit cheaper. However, there are a handful of harnesses that we think perform quite a bit better and are way more affordable, so we wouldn't necessarily consider this to be the best value purchase.
The Arc'teryx FL-365 is designed to be "Fast and Light," with fixed elastic leg loops to cut down on weight and bulk. It is one of the most versatile harnesses you can buy, but comes at a pretty high price compared to the competition.
— Andy Wellman