Field Tested: Petzl Corax LT Harness
A fixed-leg-loop all-around harness that has four gear loops and a rear haul loop, and comes in five sizes, as well as a women’s version.
Affordable // Good padding and comfort // Four ample gear loops can hold up to a double rack
No adjustable leg loops // A bit heavy if weight is a concern
Stellar item that stands out from the rest at the price point.
Varies according to size. Men’s medium weighs 395 grams (13.9 ounces)
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A Great First Harness
At $59, the Corax LT is Petzl’s least expensive harness. So, are you getting a cheap harness for a cheap price?
No, you’re not. You’re getting a simple, comfortable multi-use harness. It’s a great first harness, or a twentieth. I’ve used it on about 75 pitches thus far, and it’s a fine cragging, gym, and project harness, as long as you are not an ultra-ultra lightweight obsessive (the men’s size medium weighs 13.9 ounces), which I’m not anymore. While you likely won’t take the Corax up the Eiger or El Cap, it will suit most needs in between. Despite the price, there are no glaring holes in function or performance.
The Sweet Spot
The Corax is neither overbuilt nor underbuilt, but resides in that sweet spot of being light yet still having body. The front gear loops have an interior structure and are angled forward so your gear slides in front, a nice touch found on other harnesses as well. The back gear loops are bigger and have less structure. It has four gear loops in total—well, make that five if you count the rear haul loop. The gear loops can carry a double rack, but, an FYI for ice climbers: The harness does not have built-in ice clipper slots.
One aspect some climbers might not like is that the leg loops are not adjustable, but rather have a few inches of give for those with alpine legs or for layering; the leg loops fit me just fine, which I can’t say about all the harnesses I review. (If you want adjustable legs, go with the regular Corax.) What is adjustable about the loops is their height/rise, courtesy of a stretchy pull tab and easy plastic buckle.
As for the waistbelt webbing, it does not loosen by itself—a major plus. This has been a problem that really annoyed me on a few other harnesses I’ve tested, say when you cinch your harness tight with a double rack of cams but then, after a few pitches, it starts to get wiggly on your waist and you need to retighten. If you tighten the Corax, it stays there, with the same amount of tension with which you cinched it. The belay loop is par for the course, and I have yet to wear through any part of it after three months of testing.
A Soft Landing…
As for the padding, Petzl has put a high-quality foam in the waistbelt. According to the material I was provided, the foam is supposed to offer more “comfort” and “pressure distribution”—both of which translate into a better harness to dog, whip on, and hang in. Lucky me, the gear tester I am, I have a lot of harnesses. When I compared the Corax LT waist foam to that of other harnesses, it appeared to have the same structure as thinner belts—think rigidity—yet the Corax is thicker, which means it will be softer and easier on your back for weird falls. When I squeezed, it felt denser than most, which means it will dig into your hips less.
I have since forsaken ultra-light harnesses when projecting, since they suck to whip on, and I’ve jacked my back recently doing just that. But I’ll whip in the Corax. In fact, I did it the day before writing this, climbing out in Rifle, Colorado, where you gotta get gymnastic once in a while—and for that, the Corax didn’t disappoint.
As for sizing, a medium cinches up with about 1.5 inches of belt to spare, and I’m a medium in 95 percent of harnesses. The Corax LT comes in five sizes, and the women’s version is not just pink, but includes design aspects catered to women’s bodies.