Edelrid’s new Gambit harness may be the only harness the all round climber needs to buy.
I’ve reviewed a couple of harnesses from Edelrid now, both have been excellent and the Leaf became my go to harness for everything apart from Scottish Winter and ice fall climbing. Edelrid’s latest harness the Gambit builds on it’s previous range but in many ways raises the bar.
A new construction technique using mono fibres re enforced with HDPE webbing which Edelrid term 3D Vent Lite produces a very lightweight (320 grams for my small), breathable and compressible harness. The Gambit and its fixed leg loop sibling are both manufactured in Germany which brings with it Edelrid’s usual high standards of environmental accountability but also the ability to order waist belt and leg loops separately should your morphology require it. To be honest I have struggled at times with modern harnesses needing a small waist belt but finding the accompanying leg loops a little ‘snug’ as a result of my alpinist/cyclists quads, hence a preference for adjustable leg loops in recent years. Edelrid’s offer of mix and match solves any such issue and should be applauded – the last time I recall mix and match leg loops and waist belts being available was in the days of Troll and the like of the Rockstar harness in the late 80s early 90s.
Design wise you get the 3D Vent Lite construction on waist belt and leg loops both adjusted by a smooth 15mm captive slide buckle. There are elastic tidies to keep the loose ends of webbing out of the way and these worked effectively together with the belt loop on the waist belt. Racking options consist of four flexible loops with the front two being plastic coated for rigidity and the rear left so they are more low profile to avoid conflict with a sac. To be honest I’d prefer a plastic coating on all the loops – once you’ve racked a few (inflexible) krabs on the rear loops the fact that the loops are low profile is pretty academic and I like as much help as possible clipping and unclipping gear ‘blindly’ on the rear loops! The loops easily accommodate a full mixed rack and if you’re sport climbing the two forward loops will easily accept 8 quickdraws a piece (10 if you push it). I’d prefer the racking loops to be a little bit more toward the front, I’m a 30″ waist and can do the harness up to its minimum size which put the loops just about right but if you were at the upper limit of the size they would be correspondingly further back. Again this is not a fault just a preference. There is a small rear loop advertised as a chalk bag loop (not a good idea if you climb with a pack as you’ll struggle to get your hand in!) and two ice clipper loops that work effectively but are not quite as neat or ‘stealth’ as those on the Leaf and Orion harnesses. The belay loop incorporates red indicator fibres which will begin to show with extended wear. This doesn’t indicate that the harness is unsafe, merely that you should consider replacing it before too long – a useful safety feature when maximising the wear out of a quality piece of kit.
Like its predecessors the Gambit is fantastically comfortable, this is especially noticeable on hanging stances where traditionally lightweight harnesses suffer (or more accurately make you suffer!). In fact the gambit is the most comfortable lightweight harness I’ve used to date – it’s probably the most comfortable harness I’ve used full stop. It is a very soft harness that can be easily compressed into a corner of your sac, a real boon for those minimalist pre route bivis with an overstuffed sac. Whether it be sport, alpine rock, mixed or just trudging across a glacier the Gambit is unnoticeable in a good way. It doesn’t hinder movement whether climbing or walking and being so lightweight it feels totally at home on a limestone sport crag or alpine summit. I’ve used the Gambit for bolt clipping in the UK and France, UK trad and Alpine mixed and rock. It has been flawless throughout and is holding up well – the only signs of wear being the rear leg loop elastic beginning to pill after some thrutchy Chamonix granite. The construction also absorbs very little moisture something that was thoroughly tested setting up the rope in the waterfall coming down Broad Stand for Dave H’s Bob Graham attempt!
If you want one harness to do it all from red pointing on French limestone, trad in the UK, mixed Scottish gnarl to the high mountain of Chamonix the Gambit is perfect. If your preferences lie away from the mountains or you dislike buckles on your thighs then the Ace is the same harness without the adjustable leg loops. IAs far as negatives go the the only one that really stands out is the price – The Gambit is twice the price of the old Leaf/Wing and though a definite improvement, many climbers may find it difficult to justify the extra money. However if you set aside Edelrid’s older offerings and compare the Gambit to other top flight lightweight harnesses then the price is on a par and the quality equal or better.
- Lightweight (320g for the small on my scales – Edelrid list as 297g)
- Super comfy and adjustable
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!