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Weight savers beware—you need to read this. The Blue Ice Addax is the lightest climbing harness on the market. It weighs a mere 150 grams in a medium. Which is 5.2 ounces. Which means it weighs only an ounce more than the beef patty on a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. Just the beef patty.
Being the lightest in ropes or harnesses or backpacks is not easy. Most of the time it doesn’t work out. Durability suffers—superlight things just fall apart faster due to the fact that durable fibers are seldom the lightest ones. In this case, Blue Ice made a fully functional climbing harness that has lasted me about 75 sessions…and counting. I’ve used the Addax for over a year on mixed-gear projects, sport, and ice climbs. The harness has seen Rifle limestone, Ouray ice, and Narrows granite.
What it is: Ultra lightweight climbing harness, ideal for sport climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing and mountaineering
- Lightest on market
- Good price for high-end performance item
- Not ideal for long routes, or hanging belays
- Back support is minimal
What Lightest Means
The winner in the lightweight harness category means a few things: The padding (EVA foam on the waistbelt and leg loops) is minimal, and the webbing—the high-tenacity comprising the waistbelt and leg loops, and the seamless Dyneema “Magic Ring” belay loop—is thinner than you are used to. All this lightness means both that you might forget you’re wearing the harness and that you will certainly remember you are if hanging in it for too long; it also means that the Addax packs down to nothing.
Blue Ice makes high-end mountaineering and alpine equipment, and I think the Addax shares more in common—in terms of look and feel—with a mountaineering harness than a beefy, beginner’s climbing harness. Putting the Addax on is a cinch via the standard pre-threaded aluminum speed buckle. One major plus is that the webbing stays put and doesn’t loosen up after wearing it—nothing is more annoying than constantly having to retighten your harness, something I have to do more often than I should when testing all manner of harnesses. The leg loops are fixed, and, should you take the Addax out on winter fun, can accommodate a base layer and shell pants, or whatever it is you prefer. The Addax comes with two ice clippers on either side, and a tag-line loop in back.
There are twin reinforced-webbing gear loops on either side for a total of four gear loops. I haven’t taken the Addax for a spin in the Black Canyon or Indian Creek, where you might want a double set of cams and other goodies, and I’m not sure I would. The Addax isn’t meant to be a workhorse trad harness or for long hanging belays. And I’m not sure I’d go to the Wicked Cave in Rifle and hangdog for an hour in this thing, taking whippers and working moves, though for all else sport related—cragging and sending—the harness is perfect.
Structure and Materials
The padding on the Addax is, as you could guess, minimal. The structure of the harness feels like ⅛-inch superfoam encased in a plastic mesh of sorts. I’m a medium in just about everything, and the harness is on the money for sizing—I can’t cinch it down fully, and I can gain 15 pounds of training weight if needed and it will fit just fine.
What I really like about the Addax is the uncrowded clip-in/tie-in area around the belay loop. I’m wearing the harness as I write this, and my guess is you could clip three massive lockers through the notch, in addition to the belay loop…not that you’d need to, but having more room for double ropes or various biners, for instance, never hurts.
A few bystanders have remarked on the minimalist belay loop—i.e., the thin Dyneema—and I imagine first-time users will rethink their purchase. But don’t be worried: It’s a solid as it gets, and meets all UIAA strength requirements. Blue Ice makes outstanding products, catering to a climber who knows what they want, which, for 95 percent of us, is performance. At $119.95, the Addax is also a cheap buy for such a high-performing item.