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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl Corax Review
Cons: Heavy, bulky, double buckles require lots more fiddling than single
Bottom line: A great alternative to the Black Diamond Momentum if affordability is of primary concern.
While the Petzl Corax was not one of the highest scoring harnesses in our review, it is notable for the fact that it combines maximum adjustability with impressive versatility at a very reasonable price. It is far more adjustable than our Best Bang for the Buck winning Black Diamond Momentum, making it a great alternative if you want reliable performance at a reasonable price. Not only does this harness feature adjustable leg loops, but it also has double buckles on the waist, making it possible to hone in the fit just perfectly while also keeping the belay loop and gear loops perfectly centered. The Corax also has large gear loops that have ample space for holding the necessary gear for any route. If adjustability, versatility, and low price are important factors to you when selecting a harness, be sure to give the Corax a look.
RELATED REVIEW: The 8 Best Climbing Harnesses
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The first thing we want to point out about the Petzl Corax is that in our comparative ratings, it got relatively low marks for comfort. However, we don't mean to suggest that this harness is downright uncomfortable because it's not. We just want to point out that compared to the competition, it was slightly less comfortable. Please don't let our ratings dissuade you from trying this harness on as you shop, as there are many good things to love about this harness.
The Corax uses a simple design for waist belt and leg loop comfort that is comprised of a single piece of fat webbing heavily padded on the inside for greater comfort. While this method doesn't use any of the fancy weight distributing technologies of other harnesses we tested, it does allow the cost to stay low, and surprisingly is nearly as comfortable as much more expensive harnesses. It also has the most extended pieces of webbing linking the leg loops to the bottom of the belay loop, a feature that significantly adds to mobility. Due to its very adjustable and relatively mobile fit, we think this harness is probably the optimal choice for folks who don't happen to be as skinny as a bean pole.
The Corax was not a super comfortable harness to hang in for extended amounts of time, but neither was any other harness we tested. In fact, it would have been more accurate if we had called this metric "least uncomfortable for hanging". The waist belt on this harness is heavily padded over the wide webbing strap, but leaves a bit of webbing unpadded in the front, due to the double buckle design. The leg loops are also padded in the same way, although they are not very fat at the ends and the padding isn't as thick. When conducting our hanging tests, we noticed that the waist belt had a propensity for riding up and smushing our kidneys a bit, not unlike what we experienced with the Black Diamond Momentum. It was about as comfy as the Edelrid Zack, although compared to that harness its leg loops felt better and the hip belt felt slightly worse. 5 out of 10 points.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
Standing comfort and mobility was one of the strong suits of the Corax, which is scored higher than the other two Petzl harnesses we tested, the Petzl Aquila and the Best Overall Harness for Trad Climbing, the Petzl Sama. While it is a profoundly padded harness, its adjustability means that you can fine-tune it just right, minimizing the presence felt while standing or walking around. It holds the weight of a rack comfortably and is perhaps even more comfortable with extra layers of clothes on underneath. That said, the waist belt is a bit bulky for wearing underneath the hip belt of a pack super comfortable, and in this way it couldn't compare to the Arc'teryx AR-395a. With its adjustable leg loops and long webbing between the leg loops and the belay loop, we found this harness to be quite mobile, certainly more so than the Sama with its fixed leg loops. Considering all of this, we gave it 7 out of 10 points.
The Corax has adequate features for all styles of climbing, but except for its double front buckles, there is nothing extraordinary about what it brings to the table — simply solid functionality. While we have been singing the praises of the advantages of the double front buckles, we must also point out that they are clunkier and heavier than harnesses with only a single front buckle, and that it is time-consuming to perfectly adjust both of the buckles so that they are optimally snug. In truth, the adjustable "floating padding" on the waist of the Edelrid Zack is probably a better system, but we didn't like that harness as much overall.
The Corax has the standard four gear loops, two on each side, with the front ones providing rigidity that makes clipping and unclipping easier. Compared to most harnesses, the gear carrying capacity is quite large, on par with the Petzl Sama. It also has an easy to clip rear haul loop. Missing are ice clipper slots. With solid but not mind-blowing features, we rated this harness as a 6 out of 10 for features.
When it comes to holding your climbing partner for a long time as you are belaying, we find that comfort boils down to how the leg loops feel as they sit over the inside of the leg and rise to join the belay loop. The Corax leaves lots of exposed webbing that is unpadded in this region, and it did feel as if it was biting into us more than most other harnesses, certainly more than we felt with the Petzl Aquila. While this wasn't a catastrophic failure by any stretch of the imagination, holding friends on top-rope for hours isn't nearly as enjoyable in the Corax as it is in our Best Overall Sport and Gym Climbing harness, the Black Diamond Solution.
Versatility is one of the strong suits of this harness. Petzl says that it is designed for rock climbing, mountaineering, or via ferrata. With its super adjustable waist and legs, combined with its large amount of gear storage potential, we think this harness is pretty great for any rock climbing, whether that means trad cragging, clipping bolts at the gym, or a long free route at Red Rocks. With no ice clipper slots and a very bulky waist belt, not to mention its heavyweight and overall bulkiness, we wouldn't recommend it as our first choice for ice or alpine climbing. We found it to be more versatile than the Black Diamond Chaos, but not quite as well-rounded as the Sama. 7 out of 10 points.
The Corax will appeal most to those who need a lot of adjustability at an affordable price, whether that's due to sharing a harness, a larger fit, or bulky clothing. It is a good choice for sport, gym, or trad climbing, as well as long free routes. In our opinion, it is not ideally suited to ice or alpine climbing and is a bit bulky and heavy for mountaineering. And as Petzl recommends, it would also be a solid choice for traveling on the via ferrata.
This harness retails for $60. Since it has so many awesome traits, for the right person it should present a great value. However, if you want the best harness for least amount of money, we also encourage you to look at the Black Diamond Momentum, our Best Bang for the Buck winner.
The Petzl Corax is a reasonably comfortable harness that has the ability to serve well for all styles of rock climbing. It is most notable for its incredible adjustability, mostly due to its double buckle design on the waist belt. For this reason, climbers with larger bodies who still want the gear loops and belay loop to stay centered are encouraged to check it out.
— Andy Wellman
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