I have been lucky enough to get to check out Petzl's newly updated Hirundos harness over the last couple months. While the original Hirundos was a pretty perfect design for a lightweight harness as far as I was concerned, the new Hirundos adds some additional features that have increased comfort while minimizing the overall profile of the harness.
One of the best new features of the new Hirundos harness is the introduction of the FUSEFRAME Technology, which utilizes thermo-formed foam to get a lightweight, low profile yet comfortable fit. Where the harness may touch skin, there is minimal stitching and the narrow waist belt widens at all pressure points to also increase comfort while minimizing bulk. Other great features include: reinforced tie-in points for added durability, two CariTool ice tool holders and a small rear haul loop. Additionally, the harness is manufactured at a facility that supports environmentally friendly practices.
I have used this harness for a variety of climbing related activities including trad climbing, sport climbing and ski mountaineering. It is designed as a sport and alpine climbing harness and it is in these disciplines that the harness excels. While it works as a trad climbing harness, I have found that the rear gear loops are rather small and a little difficult to reach, especially with a backpack on. So when carrying a large trad rack it is just slightly more awkward to efficiently rack a heavy load of cams on the harness. That being said, the front gear loops are very stiff and big and it's super easy to pull gear off the harness while leading and also re-rack gear while following.
|On the summit of the Pfeifferhorn after climbing the north ridge|
Another great feature I have noticed while climbing is the stretchy and lightweight material that makes up the corner of the leg-loops. This feature promotes lots of movement and allows for unrestricted high-stepping. I also like that the stretchy straps on the back of the harness are held together with two small detachable buckles as opposed to the awkward clip system that the older Hirundos model used. Utilizing these buckles results in a more precise fit, in addition to allowing an easier option for females to go to the bathroom as the rear straps can be easily undone and business can be taken care of! I have found the harness comfortable on multi-pitch climbs with a handful of hanging belays and I haven't noticed any extreme discomfort while falling or hang-dogging routes. But at 280 g I wouldn't recommend this to be your big wall harness.
|Racking up for some cragging in Little Cottonwood Canyon|
One other thing I have noticed about this harness, is that it seems to be sized a little small. I have always thought the Petzl harnesses were a little smaller than competitors harness. Maybe its a Euro thing as I usually am a medium in Petzl harnesses and have been a small in other brands harnesses. However, the medium model in the new Hirundos almost seems a little small on me. So keep that in mind when ordering your new harness.
I may be a little biased but I have always considered Petzl to be the Porsche of climbing gear. While they don't make every type of product, what they do make is of exceptional quality. And the updated Hirundos harness is a testament to this standard of quality. If you are looking for a lightweight harness for sport or alpine climbing that is comfortable and breathable, this is the harness for you. For more information check out the petzl website and to purchase go to backcountry.com