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Hands-on Gear Review
Metolius Safe Tech All-Around Review
Cons: Slow to adjust due to double backed buckles, gear loops are more difficult to clip than others, heavy
The Metolius Safe Tech All-Around has been around for for years and it's a popular pick among trad climbers who want a beefy and durable harness. Everything used on this harness is burly and over-built. This makes it a super durable and super heavy. It was the most comfortable harness we tested, but felt more constrictive than others. If you're going to hang in your harness a bunch, this is a great pick. However, it's not the lightest, most mobile, or best featured harness. Additionally, the old school double back buckles are a hassle compared with speedy auto locking buckles of most modern harnesses. If you want something that's durable, comfortable, and is great for longer climbs, this harness is an excellent pick. However, we usually preferred something lighter and more mobile for alpine, sport, and shorter multi-pitch adventures.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
At 16 oz in the size medium we tested, this is far from the lightest harness out there. If you like to hang out, this harness is chill and would love to hang with you for hours on end thanks to its awesome, padded waist belt. It is super burly and feels like it could take a beating.
There's no way getting around the fact that this harness is bulky, and for that reason it didn't score very well in this category. Other lightweight harnesses faded from thought while standing around at the crag, but this one likes to remind you that you're wearing a harness. It feels sweatier than other harnesses that have breathable mesh.
While other harnesses go on diets and cut the amount of padding in the waist (replacing it with fancy new technologies like "Warp Strength" or "Kinetic Core" that claim enhanced comfort), this harness utilizes the tried and true method of stuffing a bunch of foam under a webbing strap. It may not be the lightest, but it was the most comfortable harness we hung in during our three months of testing. During back-to-back hanging tests against the other harnesses in the review, this one seemed to distribute force the best and have the fewest pressure points.
Multi-pitch climbs are the favorite activity of this high scoring harness. Red or black will be a common choice you're going to have to make when deciding which belay loop to use. Heck, you can clip both if you like. We are so accustomed to harnesses with only one belay loop that we didn't realize how nice it can be to have two of them. While you don't ever "need" two belay loops, they can be very useful for activities like aid climbing where you're constantly transitioning your weight from one thing to another. On multi-pitch rappels, having two loops makes staying organized a bit easier. Use one loop for your tether or rappel device extension and the other for your auto block backup. But please, don't use these wonderful dual loops to belay two people at once; that's just a really bad idea.
We also loved the full-strength gear loops on the Metolius Safe Tech All-Around harness. On a multi-pitch climb, it's nice to know you can hang anything from the side of your harness and not be worried about it falling to the deck. The loops are also perky and stick out so that you can easily clip stuff to them. They were as easy to clip to as the Black Diamond gear loops but much more durable.
The bulk of the padding on the waist and legs doesn't make this the most mobile harness. We don't want to suggest that you couldn't use this harness to redpoint your acrobatic roof project, but it probably wouldn't be our first choice for that purpose.
We found this harness to be one of the least versatile harnesses in the review. That doesn't mean that you couldn't use it for whatever you like, but it didn't perform as well as others. Ice climbing is more difficult without ice clipper slots, but climbers a lot stronger than this writer used harnesses without ice clipper slots and pushed the grade, so clearly they're not necessary for ice climbing. That said, they are really nice to have. If you climb in the summer heat, you probably won't like this harness as it can be sweaty and warm. If you want a more breathable harness that's still really comfortable, the Petzl Corax is almost as comfortable but has some breathable mesh. In hot climates we found it to be much less sweaty.
Finally, the 16 oz weight will make many alpine and sport climbers cringe. That said, if this harness is the one that catches you on your failed onsight attempt, you can always blame the weight!
Make sure you adjust the leg loops at home or else your partner will already be racked up, have the rope flaked, and be tying into the sharp end before you double back the last buckle. Metolius uses traditional double-back buckles because, once threaded, they never come undone for any reason. In theory, this makes the harness safer. The biggest drawback to this line of reasoning assumes that the user double-backs the buckles every time. Having worked for years at a climbing gym where the rental harnesses had double-back buckles, this reviewer has seen first-hand how often people forget to double back and would choose an auto locking buckle every time because they are faster, easier to use, and reduce the likelihood of a human error in our climbing systems. With any buckle, having your partner double check is mandatory.
Aside from the fact that that adjustments take a long time, the Metolius Safe Tech All-Around is quite adjustable and is the only harness that lets you adjust the rise of the leg loops. If you've hung in a few harnesses and can't seem to find a good fit, we recommend you mess with the adjustable rise on this harness and give it a hang. This also makes it fit men and women equally well. We've talked with women who own and love this harness.
The elastic risers for the leg loops are super difficult to undo if you need to take a poo. Just like the other buckles on this harness, you need to completely un-thread them to drop the leg loops. Overall, this is a very adjustable harness. It just isn't a very easy-to-adjust harness. For this reason we gave it a score of 9/10.
This is a fantastic harness if you need something that's burly and comfortable. For long multi-pitch climbs with hanging belays, route setting in the climbing gym, or aid climbing, this harnesses is a great pick.
For a harness that will keep-on-keeping-on regardless of what you throw at it, this harness offers a great value at $89 and is significantly cheaper than the most expensive harnesses in this review and was the most comfortable. We consider this a good value if it suits your needs.
The dual belay loops set this harness apart along with super comfortable leg loops and waist belt. Metolius calls this an "all-around" harness, but it's far less suited to "all-around" use than many of the other harnesses in this review. It excels at long multi-pitch climbs where you're going to be spending some time hanging off your harness. It is far from the lightest or most mobile, but it is super burly and will last for years.
Most testers found this to be an overall solid harness. The waist belt is comfy and the belay loop is beefy and confidence-inspiring. It is nice that the points where the harness wears the most are reinforced and the full-strength trail line loop is easy to clip.
Some people will appreciate the other Safe-Tech features. For example, you can clip a biner just about anywhere and hang from it. This will surely save a beginner climber one day who is not sure where to clip the belay device biner. However, that feature comes at a cost: you can't release the leg loop straps and you can't take off the leg loops if you want to sleep in the harness. If you want to use the waist belt for a fast and light alpine rock traverse, you can't. For most people, this trade-off is worth it, which is why the Metolius Safe Tech All-Around earns high marks in our Discipline-Specific Features metric.
Metolius Safe Tech Trad
— Jeremy Bauman
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