Simplicity and safety whilst feeling like you’re wearing almost nothing – that’s the Choucas Light Harness from Blue Ice.
On first acquaintance the Choucas Light Harness looks almost like nothing. A toy or a piece of lingerie even! But not a piece of safety equipment. Surely? But actually for skiers, glacier travel and easy (maybe even not so easy) alpinism it can be everything you need. A favourite with ski alpinists, ski rando racers, mountaineers and mountain guides, there is a lot going for this featherweight.
At 84g for a size small I think it’s still the lightest (???) harness on the market. You can put it on without lifting a foot meaning it can be put on whilst wearing skis and security comes from a simple system. There are no buckles at the waist to thread or double back, just a plastic clip whilst aluminium keepers secure the leg loops. The security at the waist comes from 2 tie in loops, rather than a central belay loop – the plastic is just to stop it falling round your ankles. For those who look at the leg loop attachments and think “woah, they can’t be strong enough” Blue Ice made sure that the Choucas Light conforms to the CE/EN 12277 type C climbing harness certification – it’s as solid as any other harness out there.
It’s quite easy to talk about minimalist kit in negatives. It doesn’t have padding, it doesn’t have real buckles, it doesn’t weight very much – but many of these “negatives” are positive. The Choucas Light does have two (albeit small) gear loops, it does have ice screw keepers on the legs loops and it does offer full protection. I’ve used mine for lots of ski mountaineering ands ski touring, I love the way I basically feel like I’m not actually wearing a harness. The same whilst mountaineering, I’ll use this harness for steady itineraries and have used it for some more technical days where I have to rappel although it’s not a harness I want to have to spend lots of time hanging in as it doesn’t have any padding.
One thing that Blue Ice mention is the sizing. They talk about it coming in small and when I received my test sample I was advised to take a medium rather than my usual size small (I have a 76cm waist, 175cm tall, weigh 68kg). Whilst the medium fits me and accommodates lots of winter layers, I do find that for the most part I would have been better with a small as once i”m down to just a base layer and soft-shell pants I feel like the harness is slipping down a bit. It’s definitely worth trying them on to find out where you stand.
I’d say that the Choucas Light Harness is perfect for minimalist missions where you need a harness but likely won’t use it (by this I mean hang in it) so much. Ski touring and mountaineering, ski racing, easy alpinism and glacier travel are its forte. It’s light, comfortable (you barely feel like it’s there) and packs down to nothing. I’ve used mine a lot over a 6 week period and it’s also proving to be durable too.
Awarded 5 stars for basically achieving exactly what it sets out to achieve!
- Check it out for more information and buying options at the Blue Ice website.
- RRP: €70 or £70
What Blue Ice say:
Once again, BLUE ICE introduces a small revolution in the climbing harness world. Winner of an Outdoor Award 2017, the Choucas Light harness is probably the world’s lightest harness you can put on with feet on ground and with independent opening leg loops. Weighting a mere 84 g (size S), it is lighter than a smartphone and, once folded, as compact as a headlamp. Still it features what you expect for a ski or alpinism harness, including two gear loops, and our iconic screw keepers on our openable leg loops. The secret for such lightness? Simplicity: two convenient tying loops instead of an opening metal buckle. An on the leg loops a handy, fast and secure opening system. The result is a harness being both ultralight and comfortable, whether when hanging for an occasional rappel or on the move. Never was an alpine and ski harness so light and convenient, but we struck this challenging balance with the Choucas Light harness.
- Can be put on/off with skis/crampons on, feet on ground
- Tying loops, with adjustable clip backup
- Independant leg loops opening system with secured aluminum buckles
- Two gear loops
- Two ice screw keepers
- Minimal weight: 84g (S), 89g (M), 93g (L)
- Dimensions waist/leg: S (70-83cm/45-55cm), M (80-93cm/50-60cm), L (90-103cm/55-65cm).
- How to choose the right size for you ? The Choucas Light fits a bit small for its size. Also, it can be put over the pants or under them (with the tying loops left outside the pants). Please choose your size accordingly. In doubt or if your waist/legs dimensions are in between two sizes, we recommend you to choose the bigger size.
- Webbing: UHMW polyethylene, polyamide, Aircraft-grade aluminum leg buckles
- Conform to the CE/EN 12277 type C climbing harness certification
- UIAA certified
- Designed in Chamonix Mont-Blanc
- Made in China
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising or link to affiliate sales. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene and safety reasons and more often it’s in no fit state to return!
Kevin Avery is an IFMGA Mountain Guide (aspirant). He is available for guiding in the Alps, UK and further afield. Contact him via the website: www.truenorthalpine.com