Review by Tony Lourens
I have always been a protagonist of the minimalist harness. Basically only one waist buckle, no leg loop adjustments, and a slim but comfortable fit. For me that is the ideal situation for fair weather climbing. Straight on and straight off, no fiddling with unnecessary bits and bobs. And indeed, that is just the ticket, if you are climbing in good conditions, clad in your favourite pantaloons and flexing your muscles in a revealing tank top.
But when it comes to climbing in bigger mountains and possibly in changeable conditions, it is often necessary to don warm or protective clothing. Then all of a sudden your wonderful slim line model does not fit as well. With a fleece and/or soft shell jacket added to your waistline, you will find your belay loop is not nicely centralised, and over trousers, can make your leg loops uncomfortably snug, which could also inhibit freedom of movement.
On a recent holiday to Norway, where we were planning a mixture of sport and trad climbing and also a few forays into the higher mountains, I cast my trusty Petzl Sama aside (not without mixed feelings, I may add) and packed the new Petzl Corax harness. No room for two harnesses in the baggage, so the Corax it is!
Our first tentative venture onto Norwegian rock, after waiting for about four days for the rain to stop, was to a friendly sport crag just west of Bergen. I whipped out the Corax, cut off the labels and fitted it on over a pair of longs and a T-shirt. Granted, the Corax comes with double waist buckle adjustments and adjustment buckles on both leg loops. But all the buckles are very flat (not at all bulky) and surprisingly small. Having two waist buckles means you can get the ideal fit, centralising your belay loop perfectly. And once adjusted to your waist size, you only need to loosen and tighten one of them, as the other is already pre-determined. Same goes for the leg loops – only a once-off adjustment and that’s that. And trust me, once on and adjusted properly, you will never know that you are wielding a four-buckle harness. And the only time you will need to re-adjust is if you need to wear thicker clothing against the elements, and that will take a full minute of your time!
Okay, that said, what about the rest of the harness? The Corax comes with a broad and beautifully padded waist band that hugs the line of your waist, making it super comfortable, and the same goes for the leg loops. But what I really like about the Corax is its reinforced tie-in loops and the cleverly designed and spacious gear loops. Slightly roomier than the old Corax, the front gear loops are fairly rigid and angled slightly towards the front, keeping your gear rack evenly and gently nudged towards the front of your thigh, making for easier viewing and selection. The back loops are of a very substantial size, making them ideal for racking seldom used or specialized pieces of gear, belay devices, walk-off shoes, wind breaker, etc., without it feeling crammed.
After five weeks of using the Corax across multiple disciplines, from sport climbing to semi alpine trad, and even on a via ferrata, often climbing with a small backpack, I was loving my new harness, and it is clear that one of the strong points of the Corax is its super versatility. While I wouldn’t choose it for super hard red-pointing, the Corax is a comfortable, easily adjustable, multi-functional harness, and at a friendly price, definitely a top contender when you are out shopping for your next harness.
• Durable construction for summer and winter activities
• Waist belt equipped with two DOUBLEBACK buckles which easily adjust and centre the harness, keeping the equipment loops in optimal position
• Adjustable leg loops allow easy adjustment of the harness to different body types and clothing
• Two rigid front equipment loops
• Two flexible, high-capacity back equipment loops for carrying all necessary equipment without interfering with a backpack
• Accessory loop in rear centre
• Compatible with CARITOOL EVO for transporting ice screws
• FRAME Technology design allows the weight to be distributed between the waist belt and the leg loops
• Pressure points lined with soft fabric
• Comes in 2 colours (grey and green)
• Comes in 2 sizes – 1 (small to medium), 2 (medium to large)