The Black Diamond Aspect is a comfortable, four-season, all-purpose climbing harness designed to tackle everything from tough bolted lines to tricky pin-scarred routes, and even winter ice. A wide and thick swami belt and equally large leg loops make this one of the more comfortable free climbing harnesses we've tested. It's more comfortable than the company's Chaos, but less comfortable than the Big Gun. Downsides: a one-inch gap between the two gear loops makes it harder to access gear on the rear loop and the comfortable foam makes the harness a bit bulky when packed. We choose lighter, more compact harnesses for half-day or longer approaches. But, on the whole, this is a good quality, relatively inexpensive, all-purpose harness. For $80 it offers well-rounded climbers a single harness for a reasonable price.We recommend this harness only if you plan to climb ice in it. Otherwise, the Black Diamond Momentum ($55) is a cheaper yet less comfortable budget option for rock climbing. The CAMP Quartz CR3 ($70) offers more rock specific features. Finally, the Black Diamond Chaos ($125) is our top rated climbing harness. It provides nearly as much comfort of the Aspect, but with fixed leg loops gear loops that are positioned better.
Black Diamond Aspect Harness Review
Cons: Bulky, gap between gear loops.
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Aspect is a true all-purpose harness. With four Ice Clipper slots, a wide and thick swami belt, and adjustable leg loops, the Aspect is designed to be the only harness you'll ever need.
The Aspect is built to be a comfortable all-arounder. The waist belt is thicker than the company's Chaos, and wider too. At the widest point, in the center rear, it measures four inches. The adjustable leg loops are quite comfortable and pull tight with a quick tug.
The gear loops are the same as those on the Chaos and Momentum and are separated by a one-inch space where an Ice Clipper slides in. There's another Ice Clipper slot in front of each of the forward-most gear loops.
In the rear two buckles make it easy to unclip the leg loops. The haul loop is rated to a full 15kn. fourteen ounces keep it right in line with the average harness tested here. It's even a touch lighter (0.7 ounces) than the Chaos.
The Aspect's many features make it a an effective all-around harness. However, we mainly used it for rock climbing, scaling over 500 pitches everywhere from Squamish to Yosemite, Rifle to Indian Creek. We found it to be best for multi-pitch trad routes, where its added padding made hanging belays more comfortable.
While the Aspect may be an excellent all-purpose harness, its versatility makes it less good for specific applications, such as sport climbing. Our main complaint lies with the gear loops, which are separated by an Ice Clipper slot. This extra gap forces you to reach further around your side to access gear. The gear loops are strong and supportive, but we much prefer those on the Arc'teryx R320, which are larger, tilt forward, and don't have an annoying gap between them.
After many months of climbing and numerous chimneys, the harness did show some signs of wear. Most notably, the loops that contain the leg loop strap wore partially through. (The nylon ripped, but the thick plastic remained intact.) As with the Chaos, the rubber spot where the gear loops connect also wore down, causing the gear loops to be less supportive. In both cases, the harness remained perfectly functional. We would classify it as highly durable.
As with all adjustable leg loops, we found that after several days of climbing, or sometimes even several pitches, the leg loops loosened slightly. This is more of a nuisance than a problem. Just pull them tight at the belay.
The Aspect's wonderful cushy foam and perky gear loops makes it significantly less packable than other harnesses tested here. It takes up roughly twice the space as the Arc'teryx R320, but then again it's also twice as comfortable.
In sum, the Aspect succeeds in its purpose of providing an all-around harness that can be used for all seasons of climbing. If you climb ice the Aspect's $80 price tag makes it a good deal.
Multi-pitch traditional climbing
The Aspect is reasonably priced if you plan to climb ice in it. Otherwise, other rock-specific harnesses offer more performance for less money.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale