The Arc'teryx R300 is the updated version of the R320. It's the company's best, all-purpose fixed leg loop rock harness. And it's incredible. Perhaps even revolutionary; we have never seen a harness this thin and low profile while being as comfortable as it is. This is one of the few all-purpose harnesses that's highly compact. It takes up very little space inside a pack, which makes it great for alpine rock routes where you carry your gear in for a day or two. And it's so light it almost feels like you are not wearing a harness!! In addition, just about every other feature of this harness is designed well. The gear loops were our favorite of all harnesses we've tested; you can clip more biners to them than any other harness and they were easy to clip because of their hard plastic coating. While a few companies now use gear loops that are angled forward, these gear loops were among the few where the gear would actually slide forward to where you wanted it. Also, because there is no space dedicated to an Ice Clipper, both the gear loops are positioned further forward where you can easily reach your gear.
While most harnesses now have a self-locking buckle for the waist, this one was one of the smoothest to operate. Everyone agreed this was the coolest looking harness, both in design, colors and material. It's the Ferrari of harnesses refined, elegant and expensive. It even comes with a small mesh carrying case (See photo above).
Finally, we love the Arc'teryx lifetime warranty; read more below.
Arcteryx R300 Harness has the best gear loops of any harness we've tested. They're easy to clip, hold a ton of carabiners, and position gear forward.
While this harness felt the most comfortable while climbing and standing around, it was not the most comfortable to hang in. Most reviewers were wowed by it at first and wanted to use it. But after hanging in it a lot, some of the initial excitement faded. It is not that the harness is uncomfortable; it is just not as comfortable as other harnesses with beefier foam, especially for hanging around in all day. It is more comfortable than its predecessor (the R320) and other superlight harnesses such as the Petzl Hirundos and Camp Air, but not as comfortable as the Petzl Sama or Black Diamond Aura and Ozone.
The main problem with the larger and more supple leg loops of R300 is they fold over and crease, which can pinch your skin. The diameter of your thighs might influence how much this happens. Our test model, which has been up hundreds of pitches of rock, now has permanent creases in the leg loops. They're less comfortable as a result. But the harness is still comfortable enough for day long multi-pitch routes with some hanging belays. Is the harness, as a whole, more comfortable than the R320? Yes, we believe the wider waist belt makes up for the creasing leg loops. If the leg loops on your harness crease, and you find it terribly uncomfortable, you can probably return it to Arc'teryx.
On a less critical note, the R300 lacks a proper loop to secure the extra waist belt webbing. There loop is large and situated far back from the self-locking buckle. Ironically, we prefer the elasticized loop on the previous version. This drawback is minor- you can stash the extra webbing in a gear loop or let it hang loose without the harness loosening up.
A permanent crease in the Arcteryx R300 leg loop. The harness is significantly less comfortable as a result.
This harness excels when you are not hanging in it for long periods of time. This was one of our favorite harnesses for gym climbing, sport climbing and cragging but not for a multi-pitch route or a big wall climb that involves hanging around for hours at a belay.
Personal Story - Awesome Warranty!
Arc'teryx claims a lifetime warranty. And they mean it. Chris Mac got one of their Blade 15 laptop bags after making a donation to the Access Fund. After a year or two the zipper to the main laptop compartment broke. He sent it back to Arc'teryx, fully expecting to pay for the replacement since he had used the bag hard, often stuffing the it to the gills so he would not have to check another bag on the airplane. Arc'teryx not only did not charge for the replacement, they said his model was no longer available so would he like to upgrade to their newer, bigger and flashier model? All at no charge! Up to that point Chris was turned off by the expense of most Arc'teryx gear. But having seen how they stand behind their products, he says they are good value if you plan to use them a lot.
This harness is expensive. For the same price of $150 you could buy three Black Diamond Momentum harnesses. Before testing it we wondered why anyone would pay that much money when there were pretty solid harnesses for $45. That said, considering that a harness will be your most used piece of gear and considering the Arc'teryx warranty, if you want the ultimate featured harness that will last for years then this is a good investment.