Climbing long trad routes requires a comfortable harness for hanging at belays and the capacity to carry an entire rack and shoes, jacket, and anchor building tools. With its comfortable padded Endoframe waistbelt and leg loops and five giant gear loops, the Petzl Adjama is the perfect harness for this style of climbing. On one test day we wore it on the 23-pitch Resolution Arete on Mt. Wilson in Red Rocks and were more than happy with how well it carried the extra gear we needed to simul-climb many of the easier pitches. In addition to the extra wide and rigid front gear loops that make clipping and un-clipping biners a cinch, this harness has the largest and easiest to access rear gear loop which we find perfect for hanging our shoes and stuffed windbreaker. It has adjustable leg loops for greater customization and comfort, and is among the most comfortable we tested while hanging at the belay. While it is a bit bulky for everyday sport climbing use, we highly recommend the Adjama for multi-pitch adventures and trad cragging.
Petzl Adjama Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: The best arrangement of functional features including gear loops, very comfortable design for hanging and belaying, versatile, relatively affordable
Cons: Heavy and bulky, more annoying to wear while walking than lighter harnesses
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Petzl redesigned the Adjama in 2018, refining the Endoframe technology to make it thinner and lower profile against the body, while also shifting the color scheme to a subdued denim blue. It is a close relative our Best All-Around Harness, the Petzl Sama, which is designed specifically for sport climbing. The Adjama is the heavier of the two harnesses, has adjustable leg loops where the Sama has fixed elastic ones, and has an extra large gear loop on the back to help with carrying the multi-pitch extras. In addition, its two front gear loops, which are rigid and flat, are a bit larger and can carry more items than those found on the Sama. While the Sama is a great harness for sport or gym climbing that can also serve plenty well on trad climbs when needed, the Adjama is one that we would only choose to purchase if multi-pitching or trad cragging were our forte and made up the vast majority of climbing that we do.
This harness also has a very similar feature set to the Arc'teryx AR-395a, as both have five large gear loops and adjustable leg loops, not to mention an extra wide waist belt that makes hanging for long periods of time not too bad. That said, we prefer the Adjama because its features are much more refined and work perfectly all the time, whereas we find the gear loops on the AR-395a to be harder to use, the tail end of the waist belt webbing hangs in our way, and the rear gear loop is smaller. The Adjama also costs literally half as much, and so offers a much better value as well.
Comfort while hanging depends on a climber's weight being distributed close to evenly, depending on the position they are hanging in, between the lower back and the backs of the legs. Using the same Endoframe technology also found in the Sama, which essentially is an evenly distributed weight bearing method covered in thin, breathable foam padding, this is one of the more comfortable harnesses to hang in. The reasonably wide leg loops don't cut off circulation as they run across the tops of the hamstrings, although the waist belt does ride up a little bit over the kidneys and lower ribs, applying pressure that becomes uncomfortable after a while. This is a common problem with many harnesses.
Only the Black Diamond Solution harness, which has much fatter leg loops that distribute the weight even more widely, is more comfortable to spend time hanging in than this harness. There is no question that it is comfier than the far more sparsely designed Petzl Sitta. If lots of hanging belays are in your future, you could choose far worse than the Adjama.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
In our comparative testing, the Adjama scores relatively low for standing comfort and mobility. We must qualify this statement, however, by pointing out that it's only compared to excellent competition that we could say this. Wearing the Adjama is not at all uncomfortable, it's simply more bulky than most of the others, and is a bit more annoying to walk around in. Petzl recommends this harness for mountaineering use, but in our mind that implies glacier travel and hiking in a harness, which is not something we would choose the Adjama for. We would much sooner use the excellent Petzl Sitta for mountaineering.
While the waist belt and leg loops are relatively fat, padded, and slightly bulky, they are not at all uncomfortable. The leg loops tend to rub together on the insides of the legs while walking, making a swishing noise, and the way that they belay loop slides around while walking is also noticeable. This harness has adjustable leg loops, which aid in fine-tuning the fit. The obvious bulk when walking is one of the few downsides to this harness, and is a natural trade-off for the added comfort and versatility that comes from its padding.
Designed with long free routes in mind, this harness has a better feature set than any other, including the Petzl Sama and Arc'teryx AR-395a. It has adjustable leg loops with doubled back buckles that have fat webbing through them that sticks well in place and doesn't easily slip open, which we found is a problem with the far thinner webbing used on the legs of the Petzl Aquila, causing unexpected loosening. Likewise, the large doubled-back buckle on the waist of the harness also does not loosen on its own accord, and the end of the webbing is perfectly held in place by three different elastic loops, ensuring that no matter the fit there is not an end of webbing dangling in the way. These keeper loops are out of the way of any gear loops, which we certainly appreciate.
In addition to the five gear loops there is an additional haul loop for clipping a tag line. This harness does not have ice clipper loops, however, Petzl has released their Caritool EVO ice clippers, which are meant to be used in conjunction with this harness, and clip over the entire waist belt, so they don't need sewn on slots to clip through. With all of the features necessary for the widest variety of climbing, and with function nearly perfect at that, the Adjama is the top rated harness for this metric.
Belaying is a reasonably comfortable activity, as long as you aren't holding your partner! When you are, the forces are localized almost entirely in the leg loops, and in particular where they run around the inside of the leg over the femoral artery region. With its wide leg loops that are padded with comfortable foam, the Adjama is one of the most comfortable harnesses for putting in extended belay duty.
The padded and rounded over edges of the leg loops leave nothing to bite into the crotch when a climber falls, and is equally as comfy as the Sama in this regard. Not even the extremely comfortable Black Diamond Solution provides the same level of comfort for top-rope belaying.
While the Adjama has every feature necessary for pretty much any style of climbing, we don't think it is the most versatile harness you can buy, an honor that goes to the Petzl Sitta. While it works just fine for sport climbing, we think it is a bit bulky and perhaps overkill compared to the competition, and so would rather wear a lighter and lower profile harness for this purpose.
At the same time we don't think this is the ideal harness for mountaineering either because it's bulky, heavy, and not the best for walking in. We can't argue that you can use it for these purposes, it just wouldn't be our first choice, and others are more versatile.
The Petzl Adjama is best used for multi-pitch climbing and trad cragging. Long free routes in Yosemite, Squamish, Red Rocks, or Eldorado Canyon are the perfect style of climbing for this harness. It is also a great choice for areas like Indian Creek or the South Platte, where carrying plenty of gear is a must.
This harness retails for $80. It isn't by any means the most economical harness available, but also isn't very expensive compared to many others. As one of the very top scorers in our review, we think it offers excellent value.
The Petzl Adjama is our Top Pick for Trad Climbing and Multi-pitch adventures because it combines comfort and gear carrying capacity, the two most critical components of any long-route harness. It is easily one of the most comfortable you can buy, and comes at a relatively affordable price. We preferred to use it only for these styles due to its bulk and weight, and chose something lower profile when heading out sport climbing or for the alpine.
— Andy Wellman