Petzl Sama Review
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|Pros||Great features, comfortable, highly versatile, inexpensive||Comfortable to hang in, large gear loops, good mobility, versatile||Unrivaled comfort while belaying and hanging, good mobility, affordable||Comfortable, good mobility, lightweight, affordable||Inexpensive, big gear loops, versatile, unrestricted motion|
|Cons||No ice clipper slots, heavy||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbing||Small gear loops, not versatile||Nylon belt slides through waist padding, leg loops feel stiff|
|Bottom Line||A high-performing rock climbing harness at an excellent price||A comfortable harness that excels on long, multi-pitch trad routes and is versatile enough for all kinds of rock climbing||One of the most comfortable harnesses you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing||A light and comfortable harness for single or multi-pitch sport climbing||A decent all-around performer with a puzzling design that allows the nylon waist belt to slide through the padding, causing confusion and discomfort|
|Rating Categories||Petzl Sama||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Edelrid Sendero||Edelrid Moe|
|Hanging Comfort (30%)|
|Standing Comfort and Mobility (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (10%)|
|Total Scores (%)|
|Specs||Petzl Sama||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Edelrid Sendero||Edelrid Moe|
|Designed for these disciplines||Sport, indoor, trad||Sport, trad, multi-pitch||Sport||Sport, lightweight alpine, trad||Rock, ice, alpine|
|Weight (size large)||14.8 oz||15.1 oz||13.3 oz||12.3 oz||12.3 oz|
|Adjustable Legs||No, elastic||No, elastic||No, elastic||Yes||Yes|
|Ice Clipper Slots||No||No||No||Yes - 2||Yes - 2|
|Waist Belt Construction||Double webbing strips padded with EndoFrame technology||Super Fabric||Fusion Comfort Construction: Three bands of webbing, breathable mesh, EVA foam insert||Soft frame construction with 3D mesh padding||Soft frame construction with 3D mesh padding|
Our Analysis and Test Results
In addition to its strong performance across the board, the Petzl Sama stands out for its good looks and low price.
The Sama is one of the most comfortable harnesses to hang in on the market. With its fixed leg loops, the majority of our body weight feels reasonably well distributed across our legs. The truth is that no harness is super comfortable to hang in for very long, but we find that this harness certainly has more comfy leg loops than most of the competition.
The Endoframe construction of this waist belt is essentially a very fat strap that runs across the top, with a much smaller subsidiary strap that splits off to the bottom of the waist belt to help with load distribution. These two straps are padded on the inside, and the result is quite comfortable. When hanging, the waist belt tends to ride up a bit into our kidneys, although some other harnesses are certainly worse in this regard. We had no problem hanging in this harness all day on long multi-pitch routes.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
The fixed-length leg loops on this harness fits our testers' legs more closely than other harnesses on the market. While this makes for great hanging comfort, it can feel a little restricting when climbing and walking. The waist belt is padded and contoured nicely to wrap the hips comfortably, and we had no qualms with the waist belt's comfort.
When holding a full rack on the gear loops, the extra weight produces very little sagging, nor does it cause the waist belt to drop away from the waist at all. However, with its bulkier padded waist belt, the Sama doesn't sit quite as comfortably underneath a pack's waist belt as those harnesses with unpadded waist belts. We feel this was one of the weakest aspects of this harness, and it is not nearly as mobile or featherlight as the very lightest options.
The Petzl Sama has one of the best feature sets out there. The gear loops are large, molded for easy clipping, and overlap to bring more gear around the front of the harness where it's easier to reach. We fit tons of cams and slings on each side of the harness with ease, never having to adjust our racking techniques to accommodate the shape of the gear loops.
We love how the tie-in point is specially reinforced with slippery polyethylene fiber, and that the lower tie-in loop has a red wear indicator that lets you know when you need to retire the harness. Finally, its single auto-locking waist buckle is simple to use and works great. While there is no fifth gear loop around the back of the harness, and there are no ice clipper slots or adjustable leg loops, rock climbers won't find any shortcomings with the Sama's features.
The Sama is a highly versatile harness that excels at any type of rock climbing. It has plenty of hanging comfort and ergonomic gear loops for days at the sport crag, and its features make it a great choice for trad climbing, multi-pitch climbing, and routes where lots of gear is required.
Like other rock-specific climbing harnesses, the Sama lacks versatility for ice and mixed climbing due to its fixed, non-adjustable leg loops and lack of ice clipper slots. That said, Petzl now makes the Caritool EVO ice tool clippers, which work with this harness by attaching to the entire waist belt, rather than needing specific slots. If you are looking for one harness for every style of rock climbing, this is a good choice.
Weight and Packability
At 14.8 ounces in size large, the Sama is one of the heavier harnesses on the market. This is mostly due to the full set of features, including large gear loops and a hefty buckle, in addition to plenty of padding. While these features improve the Sama's performance in other metrics, they also add on ounces.
For most rock climbs, an extra ounce or two isn't a big deal, especially considering the performance that these heavier features bring. That said, for elite climbers hoping to redpoint their hardest grades, or for alpine climbers looking to shave ounces off their packs for the approach, this harness is too heavy and bulky.
Should You Buy the Petzl Sama?
The Sama has excellent rock climbing performance and costs less than most other harnesses built for this purpose. No other harness combines such high performance with such a low price. For that reason, we think this is the best value. Even if money is not a concern, this is still a great option, competing closely with the most expensive and high-performance options out there. Our mountain guide testers have used this harness for over a hundred days without noticing any critical wear and tear, and this durability further enhances the value of the harness.
What Other Climbing Harnesses Should You Consider?
The Petzl Sama is one of the highest-rated harnesses in this review, and it's approachable price makes it a great budget choice. We prefer the Black Diamond Solution Guide for multi-pitch and trad climbing, but the performance difference is almost negligible. If you want a high-performance sport climbing harness for a similar price as the Sama, check out our favorite sport climbing harness, the Black Diamond Solution. If you need a good all-around harness that can also be used for winter climbing, the Arc'teryx C-Quence is our favorite harness on the market, but it costs a lot more. The Edelrid Moe and Black Diamond Technician have ice clipper slots and share a palatable price point, but we think you'd be better off with the Sama and improvising ice clippers.
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