Black Diamond Momentum Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Very affordable, the most easily adjustable leg loops, reasonably comfortable
Cons: Hip belt rides up a bit when hanging, padding is on the bulky side, gear loops smaller than desired
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
For such a low price, the BD Momentum is a pretty impressive harness. It uses what BD calls Dual Core Construction for its waist belt, which means that it has two strips of webbing, running across the top and bottom of the waist belt to help disperse the load of the climber, which are then padded heavily with foam. While it is a bit on the bulkier side, we were surprised to find that it is the second lightest harness that we reviewed, weighing in at a mere 11.9 ounces. Without a doubt, its best feature is the trakFit adjustable leg loops that we find to be the quickest and simplest leg loops to adjust. We can honestly say that we wish every single harness had this style of adjustable buckles. One last thing to note is that there are some customer reviews online claiming that this harness fits small. We would have to agree, and we encourage readers who find themselves on the edges of the fit guide to size up.
When it comes to hanging comfort, we find that roughly half of the climber's weight is supported by the waist belt across the lower back, and the other half is supported by the leg loops as they wrap around the hamstrings. This harness is a bit below average when hanging in it for long periods, although not drastically so.
The legs loops are made up of a single, massively padded strap that is reasonably comfortable, and which we can't complain about. On the other hand, the waist belt is one of the least comfortable in this test. We don't have any issue with the way it disperses our weight, but instead, we find that it rides up drastically as we hang, putting a fair amount of pressure on our kidneys. While this also happens slightly with many other options, it is a much bigger problem for us with this harness. We point this out mostly to differentiate the performance of different contenders, and not to scare people away. While there are more comfortable harnesses to hang in, this one works just fine.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
When it comes to standing comfort, the Momentum sits on the body pretty nicely. It runs a bit tight in the waist belt, so size up if you are in doubt as to what size to choose. The heavily padded nature of this harness means that it is a noticeable presence when being worn, in contrast to the thinner options that are moving away from padding altogether. It holds the weight of a rack very nicely on the hips, without much hint of sagging or undue pressure. Like most of the harnesses we tried, we think it is perhaps even more comfortable when wearing heavier clothing, and the super easily adjustable leg loops help with this feeling a lot. On the other hand, its fat and bulky waist belt mean that it isn't at all our top choice for wearing in conjunction with a pack, and we wouldn't choose it for alpine climbing or mountaineering for that reason.
Speaking strictly from a mobility standpoint, we feel that this harness is perhaps a hair more mobile than the other options that have a similar amount of padding.
The Momentum has a fairly simple and pared-down feature set, which mostly works great. While the single, auto-locking waist buckle works fantastically, we are most impressed by the trakFit adjustable leg loops. This system uses sliding plastic adjusters instead of buckles, which never need to be threaded, and can't come undone. Sliding the slider one way tightens the legs up while more fully activating a strip of elastic similar to those found on fixed leg loops. Sliding the slider the other way loosens up the fit in the legs, with the stress taken off the elastic and taken up by the webbing. Adjusting the fit of the leg loops takes no more than one second per leg, no joke, and is dead easy. That's what we call an awesome design!
We also like the large, easy to clip haul loop, as well as the flat, rigid gear loops laminated in plastic. They are super easy to clip and unclip biners from, and their flat orientation means that all the biners don't condense into one bundle. However, they are a bit small for our taste while trad climbing, and we wish that Black Diamond had chosen to use larger gear loops instead, or added the fifth large gear loop found on the back of some of their other models.
Likewise, for an all-around harness, we think it would have been cool if they had ice clipper attachment points. That said, not a whole lot of people ice climb, so keeping the waist belt simple and free of clutter is also commendable.
When tested exclusively for belaying comfort, the Momentum performs adequately, though not as awesome as the most comfortable harnesses to belay in.
Holding a climber while standing upright on the ground focuses most of the forces on the leg loops where they wrap around the inside of the legs. The padded webbing used on this area of this harness does an alright job, although the straps gouge us a little bit. This sensation is not nearly as bad as we found when belaying with harnesses that have very thin webbing in this part, but it isn't what we would describe as comfortable. Oddly, we found that once again, the waist belt tends to get pulled upward into the kidneys, something that doesn't happen while belaying in any other harness. This metric is the one area that we felt the low price point is noticeable compared to higher-priced competition.
This harness is one of the least versatile in our review. While we appreciate how easy it is to adjust the legs, the fact that it has relatively small gear loops and a fat waist belt limited some of the climbing disciplines we would use it for.
Since its gear loops are relatively small, we don't think it makes the best choice for longer free routes. And since the Momentum has a relatively fat and heavily padded waist belt, we also don't feel that it is an ideal choice for alpine climbing or mountaineering, where you may need to wear a pack. What it is good for is cragging at local cliffs, on road trips, or at the gym.
This harness is very close to being the most affordable harness in our review. Seeing as how it offers solid performance, awesome adjustability, and commendable comfort, we think you are getting great value for your money with this purchase.
The Black Diamond Momentum is a minimally featured harness that is comfortable, has super adjustable leg loops, and is very light. It is also significantly less expensive than harnesses that perform roughly the same. It's an awesome choice for any entry-level climber or just someone who needs a comfortable new harness and doesn't want to break the bank.
— Andy Wellman