Blue Ice Choucas Light Review
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Blue Ice Choucas Light
|Price||$59.96 at Backcountry|
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|$99.95 at REI|
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|$79.95 at REI|
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|$79.95 at REI|
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|$64.95 at REI|
|Pros||Extremely light, great mobility, functional enough||Comfortable to hang in, large gear loops, good mobility, versatile||Unrivaled comfort while belaying and hanging, good mobility, affordable||Great features, comfortable, highly versatile, inexpensive||Inexpensive, big gear loops, versatile, unrestricted motion|
|Cons||Uncomfortable for hanging, not suitable for most types of climbing||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbing||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Nylon belt slides through waist padding, leg loops feel stiff|
|Bottom Line||This ultra-lightweight skiing and mountaineering harness is the best in its class||A comfortable harness that excels on long, multi-pitch trad routes and is versatile enough for all kinds of rock climbing||One of the most comfortable harnesses you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing||A high-performing rock climbing harness at an excellent price||A decent all-around performer with a puzzling design that allows the nylon waist belt to slide through the padding, causing confusion and discomfort|
|Rating Categories||Blue Ice Choucas Light||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Petzl Sama||Edelrid Moe|
|Hanging Comfort (30%)|
|Standing Comfort and Mobility (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (10%)|
|Total Scores (%)|
|Specs||Blue Ice Choucas Light||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Petzl Sama||Edelrid Moe|
|Designed for these disciplines||Mountaineering, ski touring, ice||Sport, trad, multi-pitch||Sport||Sport, indoor, trad||Rock, ice, alpine|
|Weight (size large)||3.3 oz||15.1 oz||13.3 oz||14.8 oz||12.3 oz|
|Adjustable Legs||No||No, elastic||No, elastic||No, elastic||Yes|
|Ice Clipper Slots||Yes - 2||No||No||No||Yes - 2|
|Waist Belt Construction||UHMW polyethylene, polyamide||Super Fabric||Fusion Comfort Construction: Three bands of webbing, breathable mesh, EVA foam insert||Double webbing strips padded with EndoFrame technology||Soft frame construction with 3D mesh padding|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The best of the new wave of mountaineering harnesses, the Choucas Light eliminates non-essential features like padding, a belay loop, gear loops, and adjustability in pursuit of the smallest possible weight. The result is a harness that excels on low-angle terrain and for routes when hanging is limited to the occasional rappel. It runs small, so if you are on the cusp between two sizes, choose the larger one.
The Blue Ice Choucas Light is not very comfortable for extended sessions of hanging belays or continuous rappels. The waist belt and leg loops are narrow, and there is no padding. The absence of these features signals a departure from the usual ways harnesses deliver hanging comfort. Furthermore, the leg loops are not adjustable to fit the user's legs, putting most of the strain of hanging onto the back and kidneys.
While we don't like hanging in this harness any more than we have to, the weight savings gained by eliminating comfortable features is more than tolerable for objectives where we don't plan on hanging very much. Even for technical ski routes and mountaineering objectives where a couple rappels are expected, we find the hanging comfort of this harness to be adequate for these short bouts of vertical exposure.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
The Choucas Light excels when you need to be highly mobile. The minimalist constriction and lack of padding keep the leg and waist loops thin and flexible. Compared to most climbing harnesses on the market, this harness will make you forget that you are even wearing one.
When you plan on spending all day slogging up a glacier, skinning to a high col, or cramponing up to the summit, you don't want your harness to limit your mobility and decrease the efficiency of your movement. This harness won't limit you at all, allowing you to don your harness earlier than you otherwise might. Some of our testers even put their harnesses on at the car before long ski mountaineering missions. One wore their harness under their ski pants, french-style, pulling the tie-in loops out of their pants fly when needed for rappelling, late in the day.
What features? The Choucas Light eliminates anything you don't need for the occasional rappel or belay, including gear loops, a continuous waist belt, adjustable leg loops, and a belay loop. Instead, you'll get two minimal loops of thin webbing for clipping gear on the sides of the harness, a slightly adjustable waist clip, and two rabbit ear tie-in/clip-in points that are used similarly to hard points on more traditional harnesses.
One nice touch is the ice screw holder on the side of one leg loop. This allows an ice screw to be clipped to the "gear loop" with a carabiner, then the tube of the screw inserts into this holder, preventing the screw from dangling around. The minimalist webbing loops on the sides are large enough to hold a light rack, a couple slings, and a few lockers. If you need a larger rack for your objective, you might be encountering more vertical terrain than this harness is meant for.
The Choucas Light is a highly specialized harness for ski touring on glaciers, ski alpinism, and mountaineering. It doesn't perform well for rock climbing, ice climbing, and gym climbing. While it is a certified type-C sit harness that will hold your weight in vertical terrain, we highly recommend against using it for these activities due to the extreme lack of comfort during long hanging sessions.
That said, our testers are big fans of light and efficient travel in the mountains, and we'll shave weight wherever we can. We use this harness while guiding easy rock climbing objectives on low-angle terrain and alpine ridges, even when a rappel or two is necessary. It might not be the best climbing harness out there for this kind of terrain, but it gets the job done at a low weight.
Weight and Packability
Every aspect of this harness helps it excel in this particular metric. At 3.3 ounces for a size large, this harness weighs next to nothing, and packs down into a tiny wad in a pack. Or, it can be stuffed down the sides of a full backpack without taking up any extra room.
It might take some time to get used to the process for putting the harness on, which is different than standard climbing harnesses, and users will have to adjust to the lack of large gear loops and different clip-in/tie-in points. Overall, these new processes are well worth the weight savings this harness delivers.
Should You Buy the Blue Ice Choucas Light?
If weight and mobility are the primary concerns on your mountaineering or skiing objective, there is no better choice than the Choucas Light. It is also a great choice for anyone who spends a lot of time climbing classic mountaineering routes on glaciers and snow slopes. This harness costs about as much as other high-performance harnesses, and the incredible weight savings make it a good value for niche users looking for a specialized harness. However, if you are looking for one harness that will be useful across many climbing disciplines, this isn't the one for you.
What Other Climbing Harnesses Should You Consider?
While this harness is great for mountaineering objectives, technical skiing, and glacier travel, it isn't versatile enough to be used for more vertically-oriented climbing activities like ice climbing and rock climbing. If you are looking for the lightest harness that can be used for any type of climbing, the excellent Petzl Sitta is our favorite lightweight all-around climbing harness on the market — but it's expensive. If you need a harness that can do anything in the mountains and doesn't cost much, the Black Diamond Technician is a decent choice, and our favorite all-around harness is the Arc'teryx C-Quence.
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