Updated May 2017
As we notice gear manufacturers upgrading and redesigning their products, we do our best to update our reviews accordingly. The Petzl Corax review is adjusted to reflect the latest changes to the Best Buy award winner. The new Corax is reconstructed to distribute weight better. It also features redesigned leg loops and boasts larger gear loops to accommodate those bulky trad racks. You can find more details about these updates in the individual review. The harnesses keep getting more refined and the competition tighter.
Best Overall Men's Climbing Harness
The Arc'teryx AR-395a
battled it out for our Editors' Choice Award - it ultimately earned top honors because it has an excellent mix of features that make it excel in almost all disciplines. This was the most versatile harness in the review with few downsides. We especially loved the huge gear loops and rear haul/fifth gear loop at the rear for a belay device and/or some extra biners. This harness is extremely mobile and perfect for everything except really extended hanging. We were skeptical of the lack of padding, but found that it was adequately comfortable for all our climbing needs. If you venture onto longer big wall climbs, you will want something with more padding; however, this is an excellent all-around harness that is supremely versatile. If you can swallow the price tag, we suspect you'll love this fancy looking harness that seems to disappear the second you put it on, but is always there to catch you when you fall.
Best Bang for the Buck
Who knew that $65 could buy this much awesome? This harness has accompanied us on ice, big walls, sport projects, long alpine routes, and gym climbs alike. With dual buckles and adjustable leg loops, the Petzl Corax
is pretty much guaranteed to fit and has the features you need for pretty much any climb. While not the cheapest harness in the review, we find it to be an exceptional value. Some of our testers have used this harness for years and still keep coming back. The 2017 model displays construction updates such as the integration of the webbing into the padding, redesigned leg loops, and larger gear loops to accommodate more equipment. The latest version also features FRAME Technology which distributes weight between the waistbelt and the leg loops. More details about theses changes can be found in the individual review. It may weigh a little more than other harnesses out there, but if you're worried about the added cost of a couple ounces, you should probably start by getting a haircut and climbing without a shirt. If you take friends climbing often, this harness covers an extremely wide range of sizes and body types making it a great harness to lend.
Top Pick for Trad Climbing
Black Diamond Chaos
The Black Diamond Chaos
is an excellent harness and several of our testers liked it as much or more than the AR-395a. Like the AR-395a, it uses a construction that spreads load evenly, but it is a little more stiff. Though it has some padding, it is surprisingly lighter than the AR-395a as well. Abrasion resistant patches and four prominent gear loops (positioned slightly towards the front for easy access) make this a great pick for your next trad climb. Additionally, the rear haul loop is rated to 12 kN so you can be sure it won't break while hauling a tag line or pack. If this harness had ice clipper slots, it would have been more versatile and likely could have won our Editors' Choice award. As it doesn't have these, it is best used for rock-specific adventures away from ice and alpine environments. If you're looking for a fantastic, comfortable, and lightweight harness for your next trad climb, our Top Pick is tough to beat.