The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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C.A.M.P. Coral Harness: Light is Right
Posted on: June 26, 2008
Weight: 11 ounces (317 grams)
Some good friends of mine are fond of saying, "We don't climb harder each year, we just buy more comfortable harnesses." As a lightweight gear freak (and an aging alpinist), I am always looking for the latest and greatest in the ultralight world. In ski mountaineering, where each ounce can conspire to ruin the fruits of all of your hard won vertical effort, light is right. With this in mind, I recently came across the C.A.M.P. Coral harness. I had the chance to spend more than a month battering this harness during the ski mountaineering season in the Alps and on some sport climbs at home.
While not the lightest harness in the C.A.M.P. line, the new Coral (an upgrade of the old XLH 255 model) is remarkably light for a fully featured harness complete with belay loop, gear loops and adjustable padded leg loops. The improvements include a pre-threaded and double-backed buckle on the waist (C.A.M.P.'s Sicura buckle), rubberized gear loops and a haul loop on the rear.
One important feature I look for in a ski mountaineering or alpine harness is the ability to put it on while wearing skis or crampons. While there are quite a few harnesses that offer this convenience, it's rare to find one with a belay loop. Camp has solved the problem of the belay loop moving on the waist belt by reinforcing the waist with an added piece of tubular webbing.
While the harness fit well and was very comfortable for a month of ski mountaineering, the true test for any harness is to actually hang in it. With this in mind, I took the harness out for several days of sport climbing. I was amazed at the comfort provided by such a lightweight harness! While climbing, belaying, rappelling, and yes, even a bit of hangdogging, the Coral was just as comfortable as some rock-specific harnesses I own.
The only downside of this harness is a lack of gear loop space. The two rubberized gear loops are ample for a light alpine rack, but for more ambitious objectives the lack of rear loops could be limiting. However, I did appreciate not having rear loops while wearing a pack.
At the end of the day, light always will be right in my book. To this end, C.A.M.P. has done a brilliant job of making a clean, light and comfortable harness at a very reasonable price.
Pros: Lightweight; comfortable; has belay loop; easy to put on while wearing skis or crampons; reasonably priced.
Cons: No rear gear loops—though this is an advantage while wearing a pack.
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