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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Momentum Review
Cons: Some complain of small gear loops, not as versatile as others, not as comfortable as others.
The Black Diamond Momentum may not be the fanciest harness on the market, but it'll handle almost anything you throw at it. At $55 this harness offers a great value. The gear loops are perky and easy to clip/unclip from. The newest version of this harness has more padding than the last and is subsequently more comfortable. For the price, this harness is pretty much impossible to beat. The only other harness at this price in our review is the Mammut Ophir 3 Slide, which isn't as comfortable but is more adjustable and has slightly better features. While we liked the Momentum, our testers didn't love the trackFIT leg loop adjustments and prefer fixed leg loops or ones that have auto locking buckles.
If you're buying your first harness, you probably won't notice the subtle differences between this one and models that cost twice as much. If you're buying a harness so you don't have to rent one every time you go to the gym, this is a relatively small investment that you won't regret. That said, our Best Buy-winning Petzl Corax is a much higher-scoring harness for only an extra $5.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This is Black Diamond's least expensive harness and is designed for "all-around use." It is a great first harness and has the features you need to get you up and down the rock safely. We didn't love the leg loop adjustments and didn't find this harness as comfortable as more expensive models. However, if this is your first harness, we suspect you won't notice any of the subtleties and will love it.
Since the last version of this harness, Black Diamond has beefed up the padding quite a bit. Our testers who have used the previous model think that the new one is more comfortable than the last primarily because it feels less stiff and contours to your body better. The internal lining uses a breathable mesh, but the foam just under this breathable mesh doesn't seem to have any holes in it. We're not sure how much this will help keep you dry as foam doesn't breathe at all. One tester even noted that "the ventilation is a bit swampy." This harness feels more sweaty than some of the others we tested, like the Petzl Sama. If you have issues with sweaty harnesses, take a look at the Mammut Ophir 3 Slide that is the same price, a little less comfortable while hanging, but breathes a bit better thanks to a narrower waist belt and perforated foam padding.
Black Diamond's Dual Core Technology is a fancy way of saying that this harness uses two pieces of webbing with foam and mesh in between to distribute load to a larger surface area. It is a very similar design to Mammut's Split Webbing or Petzl's Endoframe Technology. Black Diamond updated their Momentum harnesses to this new design a few years ago. This harness is certainly more comfortable than its predecessors that don't have Dual Core. That said, at the end of the day, the harness with the most padding is probably going to be the most comfortable, and this is the most padded version of the Momentum we've seen in years so it makes sense that it's comfy.
Designed as a low-end, all-around harness, this one doesn't have many discipline-specific features. There is a haul loop in the back which is nice for long climbs, but the gear loops are too small for a lot of gear. If you sport climb or primarily rack on a gear sling, this won't be an issue. The prominent and perky gear loops are great for sport climbing, but this harness is not as mobile or light as one that we'd choose for this purpose. Additionally, the gear loops are relatively rigid, so when groveling through squeeze chimneys, they can create unwanted pressure points. This wasn't a huge issue, but it wasn't as suited to this purpose as harnesses with more flexible gear loops.
The red belay loop is nice touch. When teaching or instructing new climbers, its nice to be able to say, "clip into the red belay loop" rather than just "belay loop." This limits confusion and aids learning. Overall, the Black Diamond Momentum is a great all-around harness and it tends to be very popular among new climbers since it yields a high value at a great price.
While it isn't exactly immobile, we felt more constricted while wearing this harness than harnesses like the Arc'teryx AR-395a that seem to disappear from sight and mind entirely until they catch you. Bulky padding tends to work against mobility and that is the case with the Black Diamond Momentum. While it'll work for any purpose, if you need to throw your leg up for an acrobatic heel hook, this harness isn't as fluid as other lighter weight models. The Black Diamond Chaos with its Kinetic core technology felt much more mobile, but it also costs over twice as much.
While it was designed to be an all-around harness, many people view the Momentum as an entry-level model. Though it is suited to many different styles of rock climbing, it doesn't excel at any one thing. The gear loops fit about 8 bulky sport draws before they start bunching compared with the Arc'teryx AR-395a that fits 12 or the Petzl Corax that fits 9 per gear loop. If you rack gear on your harness, you'll probably be disappointed by the limited real estate on the Momentum. On top of that, there aren't any ice clipper slots, so this harness won't work well for ice climbing. For alpine climbing, the gear loops stick out promptly and are often uncomfortable with a pack.
The trackFIT leg loops adjust four inches. While they are super easy to adjust, one downside of this system is that you cannot completely undo them to put the harness on over crampons or boots. This isn't a deal breaker as we've slid harnesses with no leg adjustments over crampons with success. But having leg loops that can be completely unbuckled is infinitely nicer. Additionally, the waist belt uses an auto locking buckle. This is much easier to adjust than the double backed buckle on the previous iteration of this harness.
This is a rock climbing specific harness that will carry you from gym to crag. It wasn't our favorite for long hanging belays or long multi-pitch routes, but it can function in those applications as needed. It isn't as suited to ice or alpine climbing as others, but if you can live with that, you may just come to love this harness.
For $55, this is an excellent harness. Last time we reviewed harnesses, we gave the Momentum our Best Buy award and we think the new model is even better with more padding and stylish color.
For a good harness at a great price, this harness is tough to beat. It has the features you need to take you up a lap at the gym or the umpteenth pitch on long multi-pitch climbs. Some of our reviewers complained that the gear loops are too small and are uncomfortable with a pack. Other reviewers liked how easy they were to clip and didn't mind the size.
— Jeremy Bauman
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