Dave tests out the new and improved DMM Renegade 2 harness – a true all rounder?
This really is the ultimate all rounder; a clever design that works across the full range of climbing disciplines: from cragging and winter climbing to big alpine routes.
I had my original DMM Renegade for quite a while (which is saying something for a gear freak). I liked the fit, the seven gear loops, the floating waistbelt and the overall quality as I’m quite a fan of DMM kit. I eventually changed it as I’d ripped one of the Hypalon ice clipper slots. DMM have done a great job with the Renegade 2, more than just a few cosmetic tweaks, they have completely revamped it to give a good quality all mountain harness. The thing I like most of all is the floating waistbelt, I liked it in the original renegade and I still do. After tightening the auto lock buckle you can slide the waistbelt around to that the gear loops are in just the right place for you. The other advantage is if you have bought the harness on a borderline sizing (let’s say you’re a small but feel a medium just fits better) then you are not going to get lop sided gear loop arrangements – genius.
The fit is very comfortable, I am doing a lot of instructional work this year as I prepare for my MIA assessment (Mountaineering Instructor Award – a UK multi pitch and mountaineering guide qualification) so I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in this harness. No matter how long I’ve spent in it, it has remained very comfortable, even in my personal winter climbing it has been a great all day harness. The ergonomically shaped back is just enough to give some support without feeling overly bulky. The rigid, foam inner also added support in both the waistbelt and the leg loops. The floating waistbelt is made from 25mm webbing and tightened using a smooth working autolock buckle. It was great to undo and easy to rethread (important in winter, especially the leg loops – just ask anyone who has teetered above a very steep slope trying to get legloops over crampons!). The excess tape was smoothly tucked away using the three elasticated loops.
The tie-in loops were well sewn and burly enough, but not as burly as some harnesses we’ve tested this season. This is one area of your harness that you should look at regularly and will usually be the main reason why you retire it. It takes the most punishment and is a high wear area as the only time there is not considerable pressure on it is when you are actually climbing, until you fall off that is. So with rope running across it several times a day, pressure from your weight rubbing against it I like to see manufacturers pay particular attention to it. I counted three layers of webbing on the DMM Renegade 2, two webbing and one abrasion resistant layer. I would have liked to seen the abrasion resistant layer a full sleeve around the loop. That’s not to say it wasn’t burly and didn’t work well, I just feel that a little more redundancy in this area always pays dividends in perceived security.
For instructional work I loved the seven gear loops, they also worked well for winter climbing. For normal summer rock climbing I found 5 worked best and sometimes didn’t use the front two as I found I constantly had gear swinging around my thighs (I think this may be because I had a medium and I’m one of those people that is a borderline size – too fat for a small but too thin for a medium). In the original Renegade the gear loops were the standard tubular webbing covered in clear plastic tubing. The Renegade 2 completely reverses this with a pre formed hard plastic tube covered in an abrasion resistant material. I’ve been testing the DMM Renegade for several months now and they’re showing no signs of wear, time will tell whether this system is an improvement on the Renegade 1. Overall though the gear loop arrangement is great, for my Instructional and Guiding work they are a godsend as I’m carrying lots of extras as well as winter climbing and routes where I needed lot’s of gear.
The legloops are also made using 5mm foam inserts and were very comfortable. There was a little adjustment from the elasticated rear strips. These detached with a small clip buckle and were fine to use without gloves on but very fiddly with them one, to be fair though I’ve never come across a harness that has this issue sorted. They adjusted very smoothly with an auto lock buckle and the excess tape was tidied away through a webbed and elasticated loop. The loop at the fronts help tuck away the excess webbing but it is very import to know that this isn’t a loop for a carabiner, the designers have extended the buckle away from the webbing junction so the any carabiner used for abseiling sits above the buckle. This ensure the correct loading and reduces the chances of accidental opening when attaching a prusick back to the leg loop. There is further guidance on backing up abseils on the BMC website.
Finally, back to the ice clipper slots. I began the review by saying that I had stopped using my original Renegade as I’d ripped one the ice clipper slots. I don’t know how I did it as the holders are made from Hypalon (which is pretty tough). DMM haven’t really changed the design, They work well enough and take both the Petzl and Black Diamond clippers but the slot still feels a little flimsy and when I’m dangling up to £300 worth of ice screws on it I feel this is an area that needs further improvement. So, in conclusion, the DMM Renegade 2 is a great all round mountain harness. It will perform well for all climbing activities, is very comfortable and the seven gear loops work well and are useful (especially for big multi pitch rock and winter routes). It’s been my ‘go to’ harness for instructional/guiding work and is definitely a good improvement on the original Renegade. If you are going to buy just one harness for everything you do then you will find the Renegade 2 good value for money.