Rock climbing season is underway and Petzl conveniently released their updated harness line at just the right time. I've had the opportunity to check out the new women's harnesses on a variety of climbs this spring and I'm happy to report that Petzl has succeeded in turning a good product into a great product. Here is the breakdown of each harness.
A medium harness weighs 370 grams and is primarily designed for sport climbing given its limited padding and non-adjustable leg loops. In terms of other features, the harness is designed with an automatic double back system that has started to become the norm for newer harnesses. This feature decreases the chance of user error and makes the process just a tiny bit faster when getting ready for a climb. There are four gear loops, two are rigid and two are flexible. The gear loops are large and sturdy enough to carry a big desert rack. This is an improvement from the older version that had smaller gear loops. There is also a small haul loop that works perfect for trailing a tag line or carrying shoes and extra gear. The leg loops are attached to the waist belt with elastic straps and an easy-to-release buckle that makes taking a bathroom break quite simple. Additionally, there are two ice clipper slots on each side.
Although the material is very durable looking on the belay loop, I did notice a couple small scuff marks after climbing several chimneys and offwidths. This does not compromise the safety of the harness in any way but I was surprised to see these scuff marks after climbing a couple desert towers. Another issue i had with the harness is that after the waist band is tightened down there is quite a bit of extra slack that remains hanging. There is one loop to put the slack in but there are still several inches of slack that remains hanging, ending up getting in the way of the rack. It would be nice if there was an additional loop to tuck this remaining slack out of the way.
All and all, I will continue to use this harness for sport and trad climbing because it is lightweight and comfortable with an adequate amount of features. Plus the bright purple color is pretty sweet!
A medium luna weighs 420 grams and is designed for all different types of climbing. In particular, ice climbing and mountaineering are great uses for this harness due to the adjustable leg loops. Aside from the adjustable leg loops, the other features of this harness are relatively similar to the Selena harness. There are four gear loops, a small haul loop and two ice clipper spots. The material used to construct the harness is also similar to the Selena although there is slightly more padding adding some additional comfort for hanging belays. Likewise, the harness is designed for a women's specific frame by increasing the width of the waistbelt on the sides and increasing the length of the belay loop.
Climbing the Cloud Tower in Red Rocks
I have ended up using this harness primarily for trad climbing and haven't gotten a chance to use it for ice climbing and mountaineering. In general, it fits similarly to the Selena harness and feels similarly comfortable. This harness is a bit bulkier than the Selena due to the adjustable leg loops and I tend not to like this feature so much. I have also found that it is difficult to actually be able to adjust the leg loops, e.g. the buckle is difficult to maneuver. That being said, some folks really prefer adjustable leg loops because it is easier to get the harness on over boots and crampons. Otherwise the features are ideal for climbing long routes with a large rack given the stiff gear loops and discreet haul loop. I haven't used this harness as much as the Luna and have not seen any signs of wear on it.
Generally speaking, I would tend to recommend the Luna harness as a better all-around harness for someone newer to climbing. For myself, I prefer the Selena out of the two. Petzl has made some subtle but very key changes to these harnesess and they now are even better products than the previous models. Of note, I have found that the non-adjustable leg loops on the Petzl harness tend to run a little small. I wear a medium in Petzl harnesses and I wear a small in other brand's harnesses. These harnesses can be purchased at your local gear store or here. See the Petzl website for more information.