GEAR REVIEW – Smooth Fallin’ with the Edelrid Loopo Harness
Many of you have seen this harness, it’s an eyebrow raiser. Some of you have wondered if it works, others probably looked at it sideways deciding it looked neat and was probably expensive. I first saw this harness at my local German climbing gym (Rocklands) which has a professional relationship with Edelrid, the Loopo’s manufacturer. Simply looking at the harness you can tell it is a complete alteration in harness design. Intrigued, on returning home, I stalked the harness on google.
The harness, as it turns out, is reasonably priced (~$60). More surprising, at least to me, the harness was being marketed as an introductory and all around harness, not simply a sport harness which is what I had assumed. The harness comes in at a weight defying 265g, making it the lightest, fully functional padded harness commercially available. It has two sewn integrated gear loops and two plastic molded gear loops. The plastic gear loops are removable and attach by being threaded onto a bead which runs about the harness. You could technically buy and add more. I had my doubts about the attachment of removable/additional loops as I had only seen the harness with these additional loops removed.
Fast forward a few weeks and I found myself rope shopping. As I searched about for the best twin ropes my money could buy (also Edelrid), I rounded out the purchase with a last minute ‘add to cart’ splurge – the Loopo.
I have sported a Black Diamond Momentum (actually two – they tend to destroy themselves in large falls), an alpine bod (both the basic and the plush), a Petzl Adjama, and am currently using the pricey Arc’Teryx R320a, a graduation gift to myself and my first dabble into the less padded, ergonomic, ultra light harness. Then of course there are hundreds of other harnesses I have borrowed along the way at climbing gyms or during packing mishaps, so let’s cut to the chase, how is that Loopo holding up.
The Loopo rides low on the hips, sitting below the hip bone which was a major selling point for me. The leg loops pull into and are connected on the front directly with the waist band. The harness is not load bearing until the rope, or a belay carabiner is secured through its two closure loops. loops. It is not a high tech molded material which is super packable (like the Arc’Teryx line and higher performance Black Diamond harnesses), though hopefully future versions will be. The harness’ construction feels very similar to the Petzl Adjama – solid and durable but a bit bulky.
For just standing around, the harness does excellent things for the ladies: lifting, supporting and accentuating the buttocks (It could bring the perennial climbing butt shot back in style). As a guy, you will find your jolly rodger somewhat accentuated, though if wearing baggy clothes the harness will bunch your clothes together making the fit definitely uncomfortable while standing.
On the wall, the harness feels great. It moves with you and you forget it is there – So, exactly what you want from a harness. The front gear loops are big and work well. The two primary loops being integrated into the harness makes them lower profile then standard gear loops. Once I got used to this I started to really like them. The back loops are standard – they hold gear and have worked so far, yet I still hold my doubts about the durability. Though this statement deserves caveat, I had doubts about the molded plastic gear loops on my Arc’Teryx which I retain to this day and I have owned the harness for three years.
Hanging and falling in the harness are its bread and butter. The harness does an excellent job distributing weight into the legs and hips and takes pressure off the back better than any harness I have had. The Loopo is the closest thing I have encountered to sitting in a Bosun’s Chair. So far falling, the harness has done its job. The leg loops being integrated to the waist loop negate the need for a leg loop holder, minimizing harness shifting and the likelihood of an awkward fall. This feature also eliminates a piece of the harness I have found the most prone to failing in falls. I worked a few projects in the harness so have now taken a variety of falls even a few sizeable ones (I realize the objective of climbing being not to fall), but I survived without even bruising my hips.
Belaying, the harness performs about average. Threading a locker through the closure loops is awkward at first and prevents your belay device from moving as much it does on standard harness. This inconvenience is traded off though by the fact the harness makes it much harder for the belay carabiner to shift and cross load.
Multi-pitch, which if you follow this blog you know is really my true love, I am not quite sure how well the harness is suited for. I do not think the harness would have any problems carrying enough gear but am worried about its performance for tying in at anchors and doing hanging belays. personal anchor system would likely have to be left at home because it would clutter up the tie in points and more worrisome, rub webbing on webbing. Tying in to the anchor would likely need to be accomplished using your rope (clove or otherwise) which would put a lot of extra wear on the ends of your rope and take away valuable rope length on rope stretchers. The other big inconvenience would be belaying. The tie in loops are small and threading a locker through their while still tied in I see being somewhat of a headache. Also the loss in belay mobility would be a pain unless belaying directly off the anchor (which I consider poor form in many situations). The harness definitely could work for multi-pitch but it is not ideal.
Bottom Line – Probably the best sport and single pitch harness available. >>Buy the Edelrid Loopo Harness now.
- Excellent weight distribution to hips and legs
- Low profile on waist
- Well constructed
- Excellent front gear loops
- Structure relies on harness closure (making the cinch strap between the closure loops rated to load would solve this problem)
- Poorly designed for use on multi-pitch
- Bulkier than it needs to be, I would like to see a molded version
- Poor fit in looser clothes
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