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 isn'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 is 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 can'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.
Black Diamond Momentum Review
Compare prices at 4 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 a retail price of only $57, 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 very comfortable and padded Petzl Sama, we were surprised to find that it is the second lightest harness that we reviewed, weighing in at a mere 11.9 ounces. This is a hair lighter than the much less padded Black Diamond Solution, the most comfortable harness for sport climbing. 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.
In late 2018, Black Diamond updated their harness line. The Momentum remains pretty much unchanged except for the color schemes.
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 of time, roughly comparable to the BD Chaos.
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 the Petzl Sama and Petzl Corax, 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. As we mentioned, 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 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 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 means 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 either the Chaos or Sama, two harnesses with a similarly padded design, but with fixed leg loops. It is nowhere near as comfortable while walking and hanging around as our top scorer for this metric, the Petzl Sitta.
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 the larger gear loops that are found on the front of the Chaos harness, or added the fifth large gear loop found on the back of the Black Diamond Technician.
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.
When tested exclusively for belaying comfort, we find that the Momentum performs adequately, though not as awesome as the most comfortable harnesses to belay in, such as the Petzl Adjama or 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 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 the AR-395a or the Edelrid Zack, 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 that the higher priced BD Chaos performs definitively better than the Momentum.
Despite winning our Best Bang for the Buck award, 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.
With its larger gear loops, we find the BD Chaos to be a bit more versatile for longer free routes. And since the Momentum has a relatively fat and heavily padded waist belt, we feel that either the BD Solution or Arc'teryx AR-395a make for a better match for alpine climbing and mountaineering with a pack on.
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 isn't our first choice for leading ice, although it will top-rope just fine.
This harness retails for $57, 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 perform roughly the same, inspiring us to award it our Best Bang for the Buck. 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