A short while ago, Black Diamond overhauled their Couloir Harness and to replace the one, they released three – the Couloir (a straight replacement for the standard Couloir), the lighter Couloir LT and this version, the lighter still, Couloir UL.
I was never a big fan of the original Couloir, it looked great, but was somehow always a bit of a faff and the buckle in particular, seemed unusually difficult to adjust (for a speed adjust buckle)! Let’s be clear, we’re not comparing like for like here, but in short for the Couloir UL, could not be more different.
The Couloir UL is everything I like from a ‘less is more’ design philosophy. It’s light, simple and faff free. It works perfectly for the activities that it is designed for – namely ski mountaineering, glacier travel and glacier skiing as well as some basic mountaineering. It has zero padding and I wouldn’t wanna hang in it for hours, but I’m never going to. When it’s on, I forget it’s there. I can put it on over crampons or whilst wearing my skis (although I prefer to plan to be wearing it so not get to that point where I’m like “oh, maybe I should be wearing my harness now…”). It has 2 basic gear loops, which are more than capable of carrying my crevasse kit, elastics to tuck an ice screw into (to stop it jangling) and simple “bunny ears’ tie in loops which move away from the classic metal buckle harness design. Instead a simple plastic buckle keeps it up on your hips when you’re not hanging in it.
Fitting the harness is relatively simple. I’m a 30 inch waist, 68kg, 5ft 9 and take a small. My only criticism is that I’m not the smallest (or the biggest) and if I was much smaller, this harness would actually be too big for me. The plastic buckle to keep it round my waist isn’t maxed (or is that minimum-ed) when I’m wearing full winter ski kit, however when skinning in just my sun hoody and soft-shell pants in Spring, there’s not much room left for tightening. The leg loops are also roomy and have zero adjustment so worth trying it on to make sure it sizes correctly. The Couloir UL is available in 3 sizes – Small, Medium and Large.
Other things I love about the Couloir UL are the low weight (105g size medium, my test size small weighs 100g on the home scales), breathable Dynex construction, intuitive colour coding to make sure you put it on the right way round ;-), as well as the extremely compact and packable design.
At 90€ it’s the most expensive harness in the Couloir range, but less is more and this harness is worth it. If you’re in the market for a harness for ski mountaineering, glacier skiing/travel and basic mountaineering where you’re unlikely to spend much time actually hanging in it, then I can highly recommend the Couloir UL.
- Find out more and buy it from the Black Diamond website
- RRP: €90/£85
Kevin Avery is an IFMGA mountain guide based in the French Alps. He specialises in rock climbing, ice and mixed climbing and ski-touring. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his latest trips and adventures on Instagram @truenorthalpine
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