Performance ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Durability ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Value ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Though the Edelrid Orion Harness is billed as an ‘all-rounder’ suited to sport or mountain use its design is slanted more toward the trad and winter climber and those with fond memories of the original Tron movie. Ample racking by way of four asymmetric gear loops and two low profile cunningly concealed ice clipper slots (which it appears they have had to label so you can find them!) should cope with most racks. What sets this harness apart is its ’3D Vent’ technology which shapes the very wide foam padding ergonomically whilst using thin webbing strips to support the foam and allow ventilation. The waist-belt is a similar width to my other harnesses but definitely more ‘shaped’ whereas the leg-loops are significantly wider.
I found the racking more than adequate for any winter/mixed route but as always the size of your rack may determine this! The asymmetric (sloping) gear loops project outwards slightly and were easy to clip even with the usual bulk of winter kit on. Stealthily placed ice clipper slots worked well but you are limited to just the one location (between the two gear loops on each side) so be aware of this with regard to screw racking preferences. The rear of the harness includes a simple hook to drop the leg loops and a loop that would take a tag line but it’s not of ‘belay’ strength.
After fewer than I’d hoped for winter routes thanks to the miserable early season conditions the Orion has completed its test period and I’m suitably impressed, it has proved to be a comfortable and thoughtfully designed winter harness. From the first wearing it had that ‘forget you’re wearing it’ feeling that allowed you to focus on the task in hand rather than tinkering with the harness trying to finesse the fit. Both waist belt and leg loops allowed rapid first time adjustment out of the sac and didn’t need any attention till the harness was removed. The Orion remained eminently comfortable during the usual Scottish winter conditions, including the usual awkward semi-hanging belays and the hasty trudging backdown No. 4 gully to try and beat the darkness. It even had a surprise fall test on it’s first outing on Gargoyle Wall, not planned or something I’d care to repeat onto a 1 Friend in a thankfully thawing icy crack! Additionally a few drops training on the Harrogate wall confirmed the Orion’s comfort. Of course they were planned – I wouldn’t get pumped and fall off a 6b+, honest. Every time the harness felt great, no pinching or rubbing etc. The very breathable construction together with its low absorbency made the Orion comfortable both when sweating down the wall and when the moisture was coming from a miserable grey Scottish sky, in the latter case drying off almost immediately in the drying room.
In terms of durability there is little evidence of wear, and the construction appears of the highest quality, tie-in points in particular are ‘beefy’ the leg loop section having a solid plastic protector which I’ve not seen before that makes threading ropes particularly easy and completely protects the webbing from wear. This beefiness and durability does incur a slight weight penalty with the Edelerid Orion tipping the scales at approximately 430 grams (M). The only negative point I’ve come across is the springy-ness of the Orion’s construction, this structure definitely aids comfort but it can make it a battle cramming it into the smaller sac!
Addendum, going back to my standard harnesses has really emphasised how supremely the Edelrid Orion Harness really is when you have to hang when abseiling or belaying – suffice to say I’ve been somewhat spoilt now! However if you want something a little more compact check out the other harnesses in the CGR Buyer’s Guide
Pros: high performance, comfortable and durable.
Cons: a little bulky in the springy sense.
RRP £85 (Edelrid Dealers)