CGR reviewer Katie Mundy tests out the new female specific climbing harness from Black Diamond.
Value for money: *****
So with the day light staying longer and the lack of snow, my positive thinking self is starting to believe that spring is on the way…maybe; And with spring comes sport climbing. I’m too much of a softy to do it until its t-shirt weather. Well we happened to have had a tiny glimpse of it the other day, so I rushed out to the crag for a spot of climbing. I’m testing the Black Diamond Siren harness. A light weight harness designed specifically for women.
At the moment I have a super padded harness that’s perfect for hanging around when my climbing partners are projecting, but it’s pretty heavy and can get a little sweaty in the heat, so I was keen to see what this one would be like.
Well the first thing is, it weighs nothing! OK if we’re being technical it weighs 312g (11oz), but honestly its light as a feather, and this is a nice change. I never really noticed with my other harness the difference the weight made until I tried this lighter one, and yes, no surprises, it’s a bonus; I haven’t yet gone up a grade because of it, but any help is a good thing – just think British Cylcling ‘Marginal Gains’ theory.
The waist belt was easy to adjust when putting on, but I found it fiddly to tuck the tail end in, and tricky to adjust when that was secured. So easy to put on, but not so easy to get off, especially when your arms are more like jelly worms after a hard day’s climbing.
I’m trying a size small in the Siren harness and I’m a size 8, it fits pretty well, but an XS would have been a good fit too, so if you’ve got a small waist and are verging on a 6-8 you may want to go for the smaller size.
Now the leg loop adjustments; really I didn’t think I could get excited about something like this, but, well, I did. They’re just so easy to use! No faffing, no extra bits to tuck in; just slid the little toggle along and bob’s your uncle! This is the stuff I like to see; this is the stuff that makes you buy a new harness, clever thinking that makes your life just that tiny bit less stressful.
Moving on to the ‘Bombshell abrasion patches’; BD have said they’re 20 times more durable than normal fabrics. Logically this makes sense as it’s smooth and less likely to chaff, and I’m sure if I was doing long routes, hanging around wearing it all day this would start to come into play. But for your average sport climber (me) I don’t think it makes much difference other than it’s always nice to know they’ve thought of everything, and if I do decide to take on the big walls, well I’ll be more than prepared.
With every harness I’ve had, I’ve been slightly annoyed with one thing, and that’s the fact that if you need an XS harness they give you 3 gear loops. Why? Just because I’m smaller doesn’t mean I’ll use less gear! So I end up with the front of my harness totally weighed down, with really bad weight distribution.
The Siren harness is thankfully slightly different, as with the leg loops, just a subtle difference but one that takes down the stress level that bit more. There are two loops with dividers down the middle, separating the gear so it doesn’t all congregate in one place and distributing the weight more evenly. I still think if I was doing Trad I may want separate loops and more of them evenly placed around the waist, but for Sport this seems perfectly okay. Mainly I didn’t feel like a little child whose gear loops were just for show.
The waist belt is woman specific, ‘Bullhorn shaped’ is the term; In my words, it fitted really well, it didn’t cut into my waist when I was hanging around and it sat snugly when climbing. It uses a Dual Core XP construction, which translated means comfortable and durable.
Obviously it’s not all about how it feels climbing, we all have to be on the other end of the rope sometimes, and sometimes that means for a looong time. Well this is where my previous super deluxe mattress harness starts to take the lead. The leg loops are comfortable to a certain extent with the Siren, and it honestly wasn’t too bad, but they were cutting off the circulation a bit by minute 5 of being a human weight bag. But then you can’t have everything, and if the harness was more padded, well it would be more sweaty on those lovely warm days out (I sort of remember them). And this harness isn’t sweaty, it’s light and breathable.
So when it comes down to it I only have one gripe, and that’s releasing the waist belt; Well a little bit more thinking could go into that, but I’m sure they’ll get there. It certainly isn’t a deal breaker.
The main thing is, it’s light, super light, and for what it weighs it’s definitely comfortable enough.
It’s also pretty good looking, it comes in two colours, mine is in Daiquiri (green with electric blue belay loop) but it also comes in Aruba Fire (that’s turquoise and red). I’ll definitely be taking it on some trips this year to give it a really good run for its money, which by the by isn’t all that much. For around £60.00 you can’t really argue. It’s a well thought out piece of equipment which doesn’t ask for your life savings in return, and I’m happy to give it a big thumbs up.
For stockists click here