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Arc'teryx Konseal Harness – The Perfect All-Round Harness?

  •  Arcteryx Konseal Harness

    Arcteryx Konseal Harness

Many new climbers may not realize that Arc’teryx started as a climbing harness manufacturer (does anyone else remember the original women’s Isis and the revolutionary Vapor harness?). This is understandable, especially considering that as Arc’teryx has grown, its product line has expanded exponentially in clothing and packs. In contrast, the number of climbing-specific offerings has remained relatively small and focused. Much of this disparity can be attributed to the fact that Arc’teryx has continued to focus primarily on only top-tier products for each segment of the climbing market. And in that spirit of building only the best, Arc’teryx introduced the new Konseal climbing harness this year.
  •  Arcteryx Konseal Harness

    Arcteryx Konseal Harness

  •  Arcteryx Konseal Harness

    Arcteryx Konseal Harness

Designed as a versatile all-rounder, the Konseal features a smooth-operating waist buckle and similarly easy-to-use adjustable leg loops. Usually, I would not focus on something as banal as the buckles on a harness, but the Konseal’s are a welcome and noticeable change from the grabby offerings frequently found on less expensive harnesses.
It felt as nimble as many of the specialized lightweight sport climbing harnesses that I’ve used over the decades.
While the Konseal’s buckles are nice, the harness’s waist belt (and, to a lesser degree, the leg loops) steal the show – particularly the sculpted padding. Unlike most harnesses, the Konseal eliminates a small section of padding at the back of the waistbelt and redistributes it on the sides. This subtle design change provides several benefits that may not initially be obvious. First, this construction creates a supremely flexible harness (almost like a three-dimensional hinge point) that does not impede upper body movement like more conventional harnesses. Second, the small section lacking padding is bridged with a contoured mesh fabric that ensures excellent breathability and minimizes sweating in warm climbing conditions. Finally, the padding concentrated over the hips does an exceptional job of providing support and comfort. While this may initially seem counter-intuitive, it makes sense when you take a minute to consider that a harness compresses your sides when you hang or take a fall. This is not a surprise to anyone who has spent extended periods hanging in a harness (think big wall climbing and bolting). In fact, I’ve even experienced bruising after long days of bolting.
  •  Arcteryx Konseal Harness

    Arcteryx Konseal Harness

  •  Arcteryx Konseal Harness

    Arcteryx Konseal Harness

The other less obvious details that contribute to the Konseal’s comfort include the perforated foam that allows for greater breathability, a slim unpadded front for less bulk and more effortless movement and the lack of binding or seams on the padding’s edges. The benefit of the perforations and slim front section is pretty obvious, but let me explain the win that comes from omitting binding tape and edge seams. Most harnesses are built as tubes with internal padding or constructed from sections of padding that are laminated to face fabrics. In the former case, the edge seams are hidden but still create some bulk. In the latter, the bulk arises from the binding tape. In both cases, the slightly stiffer perimeter fabric can result in less comfort, especially during longer hanging sessions. Arc’teryx avoids these pitfalls by encasing the padding in a durable stretch-woven fabric and hiding the minimalist seams behind the structural webbing. It’s a clever yet subtle detail that epitomizes the design and construction at Arc’teryx and sets the brand apart from its many competitors.
  •  Arcteryx Konseal Harness

    Arcteryx Konseal Harness

Other notable features include four generously sized gear loops, a rear haul loop and built-in wear indicators at the tie-in point and belay loop—all good stuff.

During use, I was impressed with the Konseal’s combination of comfort and ease of movement. In fact, it felt as nimble as many of the specialized lightweight sport climbing harnesses that I’ve used over the decades. This may not seem like a big deal to some until you consider that the Konseal is designed as an all-around harness suitable for cragging, multi-pitch and even alpine adventures. This versatility, combined with the Konseal’s comfort and unencumbered feel, makes it one of my top picks for a do-it-all harness. Is there anywhere where the Konseal falls short? Well, for pure high-level sport climbing, I’d choose a more specialized harness without adjustable leg loops, but for anything else, the Konseal is an excellent option. Seriously, this is a great all-rounder.
You can find out more about the Arc'teryx Konseal Harness and other greatArc'teryx products at www.arcteryx.com.

Join the discussion of this and other climbing related stories at www.ontarioclimbing.com/forum/
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.