The featherweight s240 from Arc'teryx
PlanetFear tested Arc'teryx's groundbreaking r320 harness last year (read the review here), and were seriously impressed with what the brand's new WARP technology implies for the future of advanced climbing harnesses, and with the outstanding perfomance of the r320. It was therefore with great interest that we put their lighest ever harness - the s240 - through its paces whilst sport climbing in France. The first thing you'll notice about the s240 as soon as you put it on is how minimalist it feels; wearing it is unlike wearing any conventional harness, including the r320 itself. This is largely due to the ultra-lightweight mesh leg loops: Arc'teryx have found a way of making a material that most people would associate with protective clothing strong enough to use as leg loops. The effect is extraordinary, producing a harness that feels like you're wearing only a light fabric belt.
What is equally impressive is the level of comfort and breathability that this material affords. Although this harness does not understandably provide the same comfort levels as some heavier models, the s240 is perfectly comfortable enough to wear for normal redpoint climbing, where you may be hanging from a rope and taking repeated falls for up to an hour at a time whilst working a route. The only situation in which the harness would become uncomfortable is if used for all-day multipitch climbing with multiple hanging belays, but in practise few people are likely to take a harness with only two gear loops on routes of this length.
Whilst using the s240 for single-pitch sport climbing - the activity for which it has been primarily designed and is largely aimed - the harness has performed faultlessly. It is obviously very light and breathable, allowing complete freedom of movement; the gear loops are well positioned and extremely easy to rack quickdraws on; and, crucially, it provides an adequate level of comfort whilst working a route or belaying your partner for long periods.
As with the r320, Arc'teryx have once again proved with the s240 that traditional concepts of climbing harness design can be thrown out of the window with the ingenious use of new materials and technology. In this spirit the s240 creates a minimalist interface between the climber and the rope that not only saves weight but is also a joy to use. It is also worth remembering that this harness would make an excellent choice for adventure racers as well as advanced sport climbers due to its very low weight.
The PlanetFear Star Rating Explained:
* A poor product with design and functionality problems. Not recommended.
** An average product. Recommended only for its low cost or as a back-up item.
*** A good product. Certainly worth considering, although better products may be available at the same price.
**** An excellent product and among the best available in its category. Highly recommended.
***** An outstanding product defining the cutting edge of outdoor technology and design. You won't find a better one!
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