Let’s start this review off with a caveat. I’m a trad dad. You know the type. A middle-aged guy who loves long moderate trad routes. I climb some sport routes every season but I’m not as concerned with sending the hardest routes anymore. Truth be told I never was. Same with bouldering. I do a lot of it in the gym but all my climbing that isn’t multi-pitch is considered training for my climbing trips, so I’m in good enough shape to get in a lot of pitches.
Review of Petzl Adjama Harness
So with that said upfront, let’s look at the Petzl Adjama harness. I got this harness 8 months ago so it has seen single pitch cragging days, some long days in the mountains and since I’m in Canada, lots of gym climbing. I had previously been running the Black Diamond Momentum, which I had gotten as a gym harness but due to the small size of the gear loops, it didn’t cut it on trad routes.
When I went to the store to check out harnesses, what caught my attention about the Adjama was 5 big gear loops. It had adjustable leg loops and a self-locking buckle on the waist. I tried it on and hung on the in-store testing station. With no obvious pinching or hotspots, I decided to give it a shot.
I picked up the Petzl Adjama in the summer so the first outings were on our local crags. Single pitch limestone routes with a mix of sport and trad. Throw in some top roping with new climbers and I got a good feel for the comfort of the harness. Hanging around working out the beta for a route was pretty comfortable. The load is spread out well on the waist belt and there wasn’t any pinching or restriction of circulation from the leg loops. Falls were as comfortable as falls could be. Truth be told, when I fall the adrenaline shot would mask out almost any discomfort short of hitting the ground. The day after climbing I often find bruises and scrapes that I didn’t even notice getting.
One negative was that due to the single buckle on the waist belt, the gear loops were uneven. The left gear loops started further back than the right making it harder to see what I was grabbing on the left side, especially in colder conditions when wearing bulky clothing. When trying on the harness you may have to upsize so when done up the loops are even on both sides. Any harnesses with two buckles on the waist belt will allow you to adjust so that your belay loop and gear loops are centered.
When trad climbing I hate using a gear sling over the shoulder so the gear loops were the main reason I chose this model. I was happy that all of my gear would fit on. The front gear loops are large with a plastic stiffener making it easy to fit all my cams and nuts. They are higher in the back than front so whatever you put on will slide to the front. I would have prefered them to be more level like the Black Diamond gear loops but since the rear loops tuck under the front this gives room. Fair trade off but when the front loops are full it’s a bit more work to rerack gear in the right spot.
The second set of loops are a softer material like a rope or accessory cord. I found initially it was a little harder to clip to compared to stiffer gear loops but I got comfortable with it pretty quickly. The fifth gear loop on the back was perfect for storing belay device, anchor kit, nut tool and that miscellaneous gear you have just in case. Since you can’t see the gear behind you, just be careful as it can be easy to drop things when clipping them on. I run my chalk bag on a separate belt and need to shift it out of the way to access the gear on the rear.
I rack my gear with cams and nuts on the front loops and alpine draws on the rear loops. The front loops have enough room for 15 cams rack on their own carabiners, three carabiners of nuts and a set of tricams. I don’t often carry this much but it’s nice to know I could. The second loops easily hold 14 quickdraws of various configurations. Since the loops cover most of the harness, it takes a bit of practice to know where to reach.
When I had the chance to test it on longer routes two things stood out. First, when fully loaded with a full trad rack, I really had to cinch down the waist belt it would ride down a lot. Almost like I need suspenders for my climbing harness. Other harnesses have held the weight of a full rack better. Then when hanging the waist belt would ride up slightly. Nothing of concern safety wise but I was rearranging my shirt as this movement of the waist belt would pull my shirt out.
Secondly, even fully loaded the movement was unrestricted. I could do wide stemming moves or high steps and I never felt the harness. I’ve got big legs and some harnesses I’ve found have a limited range of motion.
I seem drawn to routes with chimneys and weird offwidths, so my harnesses get scuffed on the rock a lot. The Petzl Adjama has shown no wear from hip scumming and dragging it on corse rock.
Another consideration I have with a harness is how it feels rappelling as longer routes often mean multiple rappels to get down. Compared to just hanging on a route for a few minutes, the loading rappelling is different and I found I felt a little pressure on the lower back. Nothing painful but needed a little more core tension. I almost always extend my rappel rig so that helps fight the feeling of being top heavy.
- Well made as you expect from Petzl
- 5 gear loops are a trad climbers dream
- Comfortable to wear and move in
- Waist belt rides up a bit when hanging
- Gear loops off-center
- Purely aesthetic but the shiny silver buckles and grey color make for a pretty boring style
Overall I’m pretty happy with the Petzl Adjama. The waist belt of the Black Diamond harnesses seem to fit me a little better but it isn’t a deal breaker. The five gear loops allow me to carry my gear for multi-pitch climbs comfortably. There are no ice clipper slots so this harness is more suited for rock than ice or mixed. Durability has been good with no signs of wear. If you climb trad then this can serve you well. Petzl has other harnesses better suited to pure sport climbing and if you are just gym climbing and top roping then save the money and get a Petzl Corax or Black Diamond Momentum. You could also take a look at our list of the beginner friendly harnesses.
Rating (Out of 5)
- Hanging comfort – 3.5
- Racking Gear – 4
- Belay comfort – 4.5
- Versatility – 4
Overall Rating – 4