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DMM Mithril Harness: Light and (Mostly) Durable
Posted on: November 18, 2015
The author guiding Climb of the Ancient Mariner (5.10a), Lumpy Ridge, Colorado. [Photo] Slava Lototsky
In J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frodo dons a vest made of Mithril—a mystical material that is "light, and yet harder than tempered steel." After several months of testing, I found that the DMM Mithril harness lived up to its lofty name.
I used the Mithril on glaciers in the North Cascades, and cragging and multi-pitching in Colorado's Front Range. I took whippers, hung and worked moves, belayed from hanging anchors, and rappelled off Cynical Pinnacle, in Colorado's South Platte, in an electrical storm.
The Mithril has two ice clipper slots, adjustable leg loops, and its weight is comparable to top competitors. The hip belt and leg loops are made of closed-cell foam, covered by a shell of mesh and a felt-like material. The foam construction is comfortable and didn't fold down around my waist, even after repeated use. The gear loops, belay loop, haul loop and ice clippers were in the right places and within reach. The manufacturer presents this harness as an all-arounder and I agree.
The author on top of Climb of the Ancient Mariner. [Photo] Slava Lototsky
I had doubts about the durability of the felt-like material used on the inside of the hip belt and leg loops. This material is paper thin and looks like it might not last a week. To my surprise, I noticed very little wear, even after several weeks of use. The material held up for the duration of my use, but I was still skeptical. I took the Mithril and another modern alpine harness from my harness box in the garage and intensely rubbed both of them with the abrasive side of a scrubby sponge, mimicking the rubbing that happens when climbing chimneys and offwidths. The DMM material actually held up better than the standard nylon found on the other harness.
The durability of the tie-in points is my main criticism of the Mithril. The harness is equipped with only a single nylon reinforcement under the lower hard point and no extra-protective nylon on the upper hard point. I saw noticeable wear on the upper hard point from friction generated while working overhanging sport routes, and using girth-hitched runners for multi-pitch rappel extensions. I emailed a DMM rep about this. He told me that they had received enough feedback about this from other harness testers and reviewers that they were going to add nylon pieces to both hard points on the Mithril released after January 2016.
* Hip belt does not fold over itself and become uncomfortable like many harnesses
* Non-protected upper tie-in hard point is not durable (2015 model only)
* Haul loop faces out. Carabiners clipped to it for a chalk bag or haul line will orient outwards instead of flush against the back
* Closed-cell foam in the hip belt and leg loops are bulky compared to other harnesses in the same category
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