Edelrid have been nailing the harness game in recent years across the board from value for money basic rock climbing, to alpine, winter, sports ,children’s and even ‘extreme’ lightweight skimo models. Their Sendero harness is another winner which excels in a most areas.
The Sendero is now set to become Edelrid’s top line standard adjustable leg-loop harness with the excellent Gambit being discontinued heading into 2021 – don’t worry the Gambit’s fixed leg sibling the Ace is still there in an improved and as ever bright green format (with a pink option for 2021). The Gambit has been my favourite go to harness for everything from Scottish mixed to alpine sports routes and really I can’t fault it so the Sendero had a lot to live up to.
Aimed at the same users who may have previously purchased the Gambit the Sendero easily meets its predecessor’s standard and in some areas actually improves on it. Edelrid use a number of different construction techniques to create their harnesses with the Sendero using what is terms a ‘Soft Frame’ construction whereby two load bearing straps distribute the force over the entire width of the lightly padded waist band. There is actually slightly more padding than in the Gambit/Ace which used ‘3D Vent Lite’ construction consisting of multiple HDPE tapes. The 3D Vent Lite made for a very slightly more compact or flatter packing harness and dried marginally quicker than the Soft Frame Sendero but was also considerably more expensive and didn’t meet the Bluesign environmental standard (I’d guess because of the use of HDPE). The Sendero has semi-captive waist and leg-loop buckles meaning there is no chance of user error when tackling up (no forgetting to double back the buckle) which I’ve come to regard as a harness essential. You can actually unthread these fully if needed – for instance to put the harness on without removing skis. I started climbing with double back buckles, the Troll MKIV ‘click buckle’ and even used a ‘swami’ tie harnesses (what were the designers thinking and more worryingly what was I thinking!) but it really is a no brainer for normal climbing to have an idiot proof system. The tie in loop uses a ‘wear indicator’ whereby red threads will show through once the loop becomes too worn – a use-full safety feature for heavy users/abusers. With five fully functional gear loops that can handle pretty much any UK trad or winter mixed rack (the extra full rear loop I find handy for keeping belay device, prussic, cordelette, knife, etc completely separate from leading rack) the Sendero is a fantastic Trad/Alpine/Winter ready harness. There are additionally two ice clipper slots – more neatly executed on the the Sendero than on the Gambit. Its unobtrusive, lightweight, low-bulk nature it means it also functions perfectly well for sport climbing. Alright if you are pushing the grades then you’ll probably opt for something sport specific (keep your eyes peeled for our review of the Prisma in the Spring) but for most of us especially if you’re heading for bit of a European multi-sport holiday then the Sendero will do it all – brilliantly.
The Sendero arrived last winter (just prior to lockdown) so I only managed to get in a hand-full of winter routes in wearing it. First off was an ascent of Scabbard chimney at SCNL in surprisingly amenable thinly iced conditions, the down side being the scarcity of visible/findable gear placements. I know it’s a cliche but really all you want from a harness is for it to do its job and not to notice it… So racking wise I could easily locate and retrieve/re-rack all my gear (both pieces for the first two pitches!). The racking loops are far enough back to avoid the ‘in your lap’ issue of a big rack without being so far back as to become awkward the reach. At the rear their relatively low profile is unobtrusive with a pack, not as good as the very flat loops on the Gambit but easier to clip/unclip. If there was one slight tweak I’d like to see the two forward rack loops enlarged a little and the rear central loop reduced in size but that probably falls under the personal preferance catagory. Comfort wise the Sendero was as good as any harness I’ve used, both to move in and when on belay duty. When walking off it was again comfortable and unobtrussive – none of that ‘nappy’ feeling that some harnesses give when you transition from vertical to horizontal movement. It easily compressed to pack and dried out rapidly when back at the hut. A few more routes in a variety of unpleasant conditions in a sadly truncated winter season confirmed my first impressions. With the rather weird spring and summer that followed the Sendero was used for trad climbing in the Lakes and a bit of local sports climbing in the Dales. As I’ve already mentioned the Sendero’s generous racking allowance is overkill for sports routes but its comparative lightweight, 332g for my size small, and the fact that its lack of bulk doesn’t impede movement means that it’s not an issue. For trad routes much like in winter the racking is brilliant and all the previous observations apply equally, comfort, freedom of movement, lightweight and low bulk (leaving a bit of room in the pack for some extra tea/coffee/chocolate!).
In short it is difficult to imagine anyone not being happy with the Sendero, excepting perhaps the extreme sport climbing fraternity. It excels as Trad/Alpine/Winter harness and is perfectly usable for sport climbing. There is a a female specific version the Autana as well as a lighter weight fixed leg loop version the Sirana so Edelrid have pretty much covered all the bases.
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