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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Momentum Review
Cons: Hip belt rides up a bit when hanging, padding is on the bulky side, gear loops smaller than desired
Bottom line: This no frills harness is the best choice for budget conscious climbers.
The Black Diamond Momentum is a very affordable harness that provides nearly the same performance as the Black Diamond Chaos, a top of the line harness that costs over twice as much. While it wasn't one of the highest scorers in our comparative rankings, it works just fine for clipping bolts and training in the gym, and can even be a serviceable trad climbing harness if need be. It was far more comfortable and easy to use than the other super affordable harnesses that we tested, and in our opinion presents the best value of any contender in this review. Offering top of the line performance at a bargain bin price, we couldn't help but call it our Best Bang for the Buck award winner. If you need a new harness, but would prefer to make your hard earned cash go as far as possible, this is the harness we recommend for you.
RELATED REVIEW: The 8 Best Climbing Harnesses
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
For a retail price of only $55, 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, comparable to the heavily padded Petzl Sama, we were surprised to find that it is the second lightest harness that we reviewed, weighing in at a mere 12.1 ounces. This was virtually the same weight as the much less padded Black Diamond Solution, our Best Overall Sport and Gym Climbing harness. Without a doubt, its best feature is the trakFit adjustable leg loops that we found to be by far the quickest and simplest leg loops to adjust that we tested. 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 around 60% of a climber's weight will rest on their leg loops, and roughly 40% of their weight will be supported by the waist belt as it wraps around the lower back. We found that this harness was a bit below average when we hung in it for long periods of time, roughly comparable to the BD Chaos.
The legs loops are made up of a single, massively padded strap that was reasonably comfortable, and which we couldn't complain about. On the other hand, the waist belt proved to be one of the least comfortable in this test. We didn't have any issue with the way it dispersed our weight, but instead, we found that it would ride up drastically as we hung, putting a fair amount of pressure on our kidneys. While this also happened slightly with the Petzl Sama and Petzl Corax, it was a much bigger problem 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 worked just fine. 6 out of 10 points.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
When it comes to standing comfort, the Momentum sits on the body pretty nicely. As we mentioned, it runs a bit tight in the waist belt, so size up. The heavily padded nature of this harness means that it is a noticeable presence when being worn, in contrast to the thinner BD Solution or Arc'teryx AR-395a. 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 thought it was perhaps even more comfortable when wearing heavier clothing, and the super easily adjustable leg loops helped with this feeling a lot. On the other hand, its fat and bulky waist belt meant that it wasn'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 felt that this harness was perhaps a hair more mobile than either the Chaos or Sama, two harnesses with a similarly padded design, but with fixed leg loops. Taking everything into consideration, we gave it 7 out of 10 points.
We found the Momentum to have a fairly simple and pared down feature set, which mostly worked great. While the single, auto-locking waist buckle worked fantastically, we were most impressed by the trakFit adjustable leg loops. This system used sliding plastic adjusters instead of buckles, which never needed to be threaded, and couldn't come undone. Sliding the slider one way tightened 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 loosened 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 took no more than one second per leg, no joke, and was dead easy. That's what we call an awesome design!
We also liked the large, easy to clip haul loop, as well as the flat, rigid gear loops laminated in plastic. They were super easy to clip and unclip biners from, and their flat orientation meant that all the biners didn't condense into one bundle. However, they were a bit small for our taste while trad climbing, and we wish that Black Diamond had chosen to use the larger gear loops that are found on the front of the Chaos harness.
Likewise, for an all-around harness, we think it would have been cool if they had ice clipper attachment points, like those found on the Sama or Petzl Aquila. With minimal features that performed nearly flawlessly, we gave this harness 8 out of 10 points.
When tested exclusively for belaying comfort, we found that the Momentum performed adequately, though not as awesome as the most comfortable harness to belay in, the Black Diamond Solution.
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 did an alright job, although the straps did gouge us a little bit. This sensation was not nearly as bad as we found when belaying with the AR-395a or the Edelrid Zack, but it wasn't what we would describe as comfortable. Oddly, we found that once again the waist belt tended to get pulled upward into the kidneys, something that didn't happen while belaying in any other harness. This metric was the one area that we felt that the BD Chaos performed definitively better than the Momentum, and we awarded it 6 out of 10 points.
Despite winning our Best Bang for the Buck award, this harness was one of the least versatile in our review. While we appreciated how easy it was to adjust the legs, the fact that it had relatively small gear loops and a fat waist belt limited some of the climbing disciplines we would use it for.
With its larger gear loops, we found the BD Chaos to be a bit more versatile for longer free routes. And since the Momentum had a relatively fat and heavily padded waist belt, we felt that either the BD Solution or Arc'teryx AR-395a made for a better match for alpine climbing and mountaineering with a pack on. We gave this harness 5 out of 10 points for versatility.
The Momentum is an awesome entry level harness, and will work great even for experienced climbers at the sport crag or in the gym. With smaller than average gear loops, it can carry a rack needed for trad cragging, but things will get pretty tight if you want to carry all the necessary items for long free routes. Without ice clipper slots, it also wouldn't be our first choice for leading ice, although it will top-rope just fine.
This harness retails for $55, making it the second most affordable harness in our review. Seeing as how it ranks almost equally with the Black Diamond Chaos, which retails for $125, we think you are getting great value for your money with this purchase. That's why we are calling it the Best Bang for the Buck!
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 performed roughly the same, inspiring us to award it our Best Bang for the Buck. It is 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
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