Petzl Adjama Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great 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. The Adjama is heavier than other Petzl harnesses we compared it to, but has adjustable leg loops where the others have fixed elastic ones, and has an extra-large gear loop on the back to help with carrying the multi-pitch extras. Its two front gear loops, which are rigid and flat, are a bit larger and can carry more items than those found on the average harness. While the most other options are excellent choices for sport or gym climbing that can also serve plenty well on trad climbs when needed, the Adjama is the one that we would 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 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 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 thus 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 other Petzl harnesses, 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.
It is hard to find another harness that is more comfortable to spend time hanging in than this harness. There is no question that it is far comfier than the more sparsely designed and lighter-weight options. 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 bulkier 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.
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. 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 can be a problem with harnesses that use much thinner webbing on the legs, 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. There is not a single other harness that 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. It works just fine for sport climbing, but 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.
This harness retails for slightly more than the other top-rated options. 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, it offers excellent value.
The Petzl Adjama is a fantastic harness 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