Arc’teryx R320a Harness

, July 21, 2011

Renowned for its high performance outdoor collections, Arc’teryx provides a good place to start the search for climbing equipment and apparel. Arc’teryx brought out their first collection of ‘warp strength’ harnesses in 2008 and have been working on improving these already lightweight harnesses for the past three years. The results are impressive to say the least at compare with the degree of specificity usually offered by climbing specific brands.

Opting for the R320a, the ‘all-rounder’ model, I was more than mildly surprised at how small and light it was for a harness allegedly designed to comfortably suit multiple disciplines of climbing (It weighs a mere 325 grams). On putting the harness, my surprise increased; having a tea towel tied round my waist would have been more noticeable. The R320a is so light and comfortable that you almost forget you’re even wearing it (somewhat disconcerting at first). Arc’teryx describe it as “the most comfortable fully adjustable all around rock climbing harness available”. Whilst I could believe this walking around at the local wall, would the same ring true when it was gear laden and used for a full day of climbing or mountaineering?


Heading out on a three week trip to the Ecrins, I was able to put it to the test. A few Alpine peaks and many single and multi pitch sport routes later and I am more than happy to endorse Arc’teryx’s aforementioned claim. The wide and supple waist band combined with conically shaped leg loops meant that resting in the harness when working sequences on sport projects or waiting on hanging belays was by no means the usual uncomfortable experience. The flexible swami ensured that the R320a was far less awkward than other harnesses I’ve had and it fit my body well, without any leading edges cutting in. It performed just as well on an ascent of Mont Pelvoux: four healthily sized gear loops allowed me to rack up with a good amount of gear, and the easily adjustable buckles minimised the hassle of changing layers. Furthermore, it took up very little space in my pack as it squeezes into a tiny mesh storage bag.

Climbing on the Ailefroide

At £120 the R320a is at the pricey end of the harness market, but you’re paying for a top quality harness that is as much at home in sunny Kalymnos as in a snowy Alpine couloir. It’s comfy, it’s light and it’s a true all-rounder. In fact I’ve never been more impressed by a new piece of outdoor kit than I have been with the R320a.

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