By Outdoor Prolink Editorial Intern Sara Aranda. Sara likes to climb, trail run, travel and adventure. She comes from California but is making Boulder, Colorado her new home. Sara also works at Movement Climbing + Fitness in Boulder. Look for more blog posts and photos from Sara coming soon!
It’s all about being lightweight nowadays, and Petzl’s new Hirundos is right on cue. When I was handed the harness in its bag, it weighed almost nothing. I work for Movement Climbing + Fitness here in Boulder, CO and after a short work shift, this new harness was the first to come out of my bag for a quick climbing session in the gym. Its bright orange color was super neat, and of course, trendy, and I even liked the white touch for the gear loop and hard points (it actually made me think of creamsicles – or am I just dreaming of hot summer days?) This harness fit the sport climbing bill perfectly.
It’s super slim and simple, yet the quality still makes this harness tough and dependable. I tied in and ran laps, took falls, and belayed as if I’d had the harness for months already. It was super comfortable despite its thin appearance. Petzl’s use of a thermos-formed foam and FUSEFRAME Technology allows for this sleek look while maintaining the ability to still perform under pressure, enabling for all-around comfort as it spreads forces evenly through the harness. Pressure points were non-issue with this harness, and I’ve even had friends mention that their Hirundos is so light that sometimes they look down to see if it’s even still on. One of my friends commented that it almost looked like orange dental floss, but I think it was wishful thinking on his part.
Then of course the next step was to take it outside, test out the gear loops and all that comes with outdoor exposure. The harness does have four gear loops, but the back two are smaller and angled. In a rush it’s hard to feel for the back loops and I’d usually just end up clipping the front loop despite me thinking I was clipping the back one – so I ended up designating the back loops for miscellaneous items only, like my rappel or belay device. The front loops are quite roomy, however. I had six quickdraws on each side and there was still room for more. Even with all this metal accumulating around my waist, the harness still felt light and comfortable. There were even a few occasions where I used it while following trad climbs – I wouldn’t recommend full on trad leading in this harness for space reasons, as there tends to be a need for access to large back loops, but if you’re going ultralight and want to make it happen, by all means go for it (i.e. alpine climbing)!
So what’s the final say?
Pros: Ultralight and comfortable. Packs pretty small, and is still very durable. I’m definitely designating this as my sport/gym harness.
Cons: The leg loops on this harness don’t adjust, and so ladies and gents (mostly us ladies) with thin waists but a little more junk in the trunk, might find sizing a little tricky. While the loops are elastic and can stretch, thus providing comfort regardless, it’s best to also pay attention to the circumference of your thighs when deciding what overall size to choose from. The waist-belt is also fixed, as opposed to Edelrid’s glider waist-belt which allows you to align your tie-in regardless of how much you synch it. On the Hirundos, to have the tie-in point aligned perfectly, the belt has to basically be at its tightest, which defeats the purpose of having range, in my opinion. So I’d recommend being on the low end of the size you choose as opposed to the high end of its range. I made this mistake when I got the XS, thinking that since my waist was well within its range I would be fine. But I would definitely say that the correct size for me would have been the Small.
Despite these technicalities, the harness is still extremely comfortable and I even forget about these nit-picky things when I’m actually climbing. I love this harness, especially because it takes up almost no space whatsoever. At work I see the Hirundos popping up all over the place now – so they’re pretty great!