Edelrid Sendero Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Perfect set of features, lightweight, comfortable, affordable
Cons: Not the most comfortable for long belay sessions
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sendero is a newly released harness by Edelrid in the winter/spring of 2020. This harness is designed for alpine climbing, but in fact, works very well for any style of climbing. We tested it frequently while sport climbing in Greece and thought it worked great. In particular, the waist belt and leg loops have dual strips of webbing inside and are padded with 3D mesh that does an effective job of dispersing the weight of a climber when they are hanging, falling, or belaying.
We also think that the feature set on this harness is nearly perfect, more so than any other harness we have worn, and these features do an excellent job of making it applicable for any style of climbing, while also not limiting it from any others — a rare achievement. While we have other harnesses that we prefer for specific purposes, such as sport climbing or for long trad climbs, we think this harness covers the entire range better than any other, and is, therefore, an optimal choice if you only want one harness to do everything.
This harness is one of a number that Edelrid makes that uses Bluesign Certified Materials, which means that some of the materials used (but not all), are made to increased environmental and best worker practice standards. We appreciate this small step in a more conscious direction.
The Sendero has adjustable leg loops, although if you prefer fixed leg loops, which also makes it slightly lighter, then check out the Edelrid Sirana. They also make a women's specific version of this harness, the Autana.
The Sendero ranks up there with the best when it comes to comfort while hanging. We find that in a hanging seated position, the weight tends to be distributed relatively evenly between the leg loops and the waist belt. The soft frame construction entails two strips of webbing spaced apart on the inside of 3D mesh padding. While neither the leg loops nor the waist belt is especially wide, the system does a good job of distributing the load, while also cutting down on unnecessary bulk.
We also like how this harness fits. Compared to many other competitors that tend to ride up significantly while hanging for too long, thereby squishing the kidneys and lower ribs, this harness stays put nicely.
While using this harness on multi-pitch routes, we hung at some belays, and never experienced a loss of circulation that can be surprisingly common.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
While we are impressed with how comfortable this harness is to hang in, we concede that it's not as comfortable for standing around. The waist belt is not the most supple, as the padding is slightly stiff and structured. This led it to feel slightly more bulky and present against our body as we wore it on long days. We also noticed that our size Medium required us to really tighten the waist buckle down for an optimal fit, which of course, translated into us noticing it a lot more. You may consider sizing down if you happen to fall on the edge of the size recommendations.
The adjustable leg loop buckles worked well for us and allowed us to tailor the fit around the thighs perfectly so that the harness remained supple and flexible, but not overly tight. This is a harness that we felt we were able to walk around in without annoying side-effects, but the thicker, slightly more bulky waist belt meant that it didn't serve nearly as well for wearing under a pack as those harnesses with an unpadded, flat waist belt.
The excellent features are really what make this harness shine, as no harness that we've tested has as many features that work so well. It is designed as an "alpine" harness, and so has adjustable leg loops. The buckles on these are easy to work, and the tail keeper is at an adequate distance to keep the webbing tail securely in place. It has two slots for ice clippers, and we loved that these are very low profile (you won't even notice they are there if you aren't using them), while also not interfering in any way with the gear loops or the webbing tail for the waist belt. A surprising amount of harnesses that have ice clipper slots become rather awkward to use once they are in place, so this was a nice way of designing things.
The five gear loops make this harness great for any sort of rock climbing. The loops are large, flat, and the front two on each side are rigid, so they are easier to clip. A fifth flexible gear loop in the back is ideal for clipping in shoes or a windbreaker or small water bottle, not to mention a tag line if you have one.
The tie in points are made with slippery Dyneema for added durability, and also include red threads woven inside to serve as a wear indicator, letting you know when it is time to replace the harness. All told, we have not a single complaint about how any of these features function, and aren't sure we've ever worn a harness where we could say that — until now!
If this harness has one flaw, it's that it isn't as comfortable for logging serious belay duty as some others. We verified by putting in hours of hangdog duty on the dull end of the rope on a long sport climbing trip in Greece, and feel that if we were buying this harness exclusively to sport climb, we would choose another for this reason. That said, long sessions of belay duty aren't very comfortable no matter what harness you have on, so the performance of this one isn't out of line with what we expect.
The main area of concern when thinking about belaying comfort is the leg loops where they wrap around the inside of the leg to eventually meet at the belay loop and lower tie-in point. On this harness, the loops tapered to be much thinner at this point, and despite having padding that covered the edges of these thinner pieces of webbing, still dug in a bit when holding a climber for a long time.
We've mentioned it a lot already, but it bears repeating, this harness is super versatile! It works great for ice or alpine climbing and has plenty of gear loop space for any type of multi-pitch climbing. It's super lightweight, so works equally as well for hard sport climbing, and won't cost you a bunch of extra ounces in the pack when approaching long distances. The only style of climbing that we wouldn't immediately recommend it for is mountaineering, as it's a bit bulky for walking long distances.
While this harness isn't nearly the least expensive, it's also nowhere close to the most expensive. It sits just slightly above average in the spectrum and remains pretty affordable. As a super versatile option that also scored very high in our overall rankings, and performs well enough to be worthy of an award, we think that you will find excellent value in a purchase.
The Edelrid Sendero wins our Editors' Choice award for the best all-around harness because it is versatile, and has the feature set you need for any style of climbing. It is lightweight, functional, and also quite affordable, considering the level of performance offered. While it is marketed as an alpine harness, we recommend it for anyone who wants a single harness that can easily meet all of their needs.
— Andy Wellman