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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked and double checked that all the leg loops and straps of my harness were untangled and untwisted, only to pull it on and realize that was not the case. Yeah, I’m that climber. For me, simplicity is as important as comfort.
I’ve been climbing in the Black Diamond Zone ($100) for three months now and not once have I had to readjust. What I like about it is the low-profile, two-tone design, and the fact that it weighs only 10.2 ounces. I just pull it out of my bag, slip it on, and tighten the waist strap without fidgeting or fumbling. Easy.
Rather than filling the Zone with thick pieces of foam, Black Diamond incorporated “Fusion Comfort Construction”—essentially a triple-weave webbing backed with a thin piece of foam and a breathable mesh lining, both on the interior of the waist belt and the leg loops.
At first, the lack of padding combined with the fixed leg loops pinched the backs of my legs when I caught hard falls and shook out for an extended period. All my life, I’ve found that having a small waist and larger (strong!) thighs makes it tricky for finding the perfect fit in pants let alone harnesses. But within the first month, the leg loops stretched and formed to my legs, meaning I no longer unexpectedly winced in pain. I wear it all the time now without worrying.
Black Diamond says the Zone was made for sport and alpine climbing. I tested it both inside and outside on sport routes, using the four outward gear loops. But I neglected the two ice clipper loops that would be useful for alpine adventures. That said, they add almost no weight.
Overall, the sleek design and feathery weight make it supreme for climbers wanting to cut weight without surrendering comfort or performance.
It also comes in men’s sizes, which weigh 10.8 ounces and cost $100.