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Peztl Hirundos vs Arc'teryx S220 LT

posted Aug 26, 2012, 5:34 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jan 6, 2013, 10:22 PM ]

Testing two of the lightest sport-climbing harnesses

Arc'teryx S220 LT

Weight: 225g (size XS)

The S220 LT is minimalism pushed to the limit. It is the sport climbing harness for those seeking ultimate lightweight when pushing to the limit. Since the construction is reduced to the essential, the S220 LT might not be the most comfortable harness if you need to hang on a wall for a long while. It is specifically designed for sport climbing and it might not be the best choice for multi-pitch routes and alpine climbing.

This ultralight sport climbing harness features a swami belt constructed with Warp Strength® Technology (WST®), a system that reduces weight and distribute pressure without compromising strength. The material used for the WST® belt is very soft, flexible, thin, and comfortable. This new type of construction eliminates any excess bulk. The inner thin covering material is also supposed to be breathable, but it is not very effective. What we really liked instead is the texture of this material, its softness and we appreciated the comfort offered by the clever wide, wrapping profile of the swami belt.

The leg loops, however, have a different construction, which is not as soft and comfortable as the swami. They use a unidirectional mesh, which is supposed to provide bridging support in one direction and total flexibility in the other. The result is excellent in terms of lightness, but it is a bit poorer in terms of comfort. The leg loops are much stiffer than the swami belt, they feel “plastic-like”, and not very flexible.

To further reduce weight, only two removable/reversible gear loops are attached on the sides and no loop to hang a chalk bag on the back, which means you can't carry a lot of gear and you'll have to use an extra waist belt to hang the chalk bag. The latter may not be a big problem, since every chalk bag nowadays comes with a waist belt, but it means that you will have to add some precious extra grams of chalk-bag waist-belt to the total weight to carry! 
The leg loops are also partially elasticized to leave a margin of expansion that guarantees a correct fit on a certain range of leg sizes and thickness of pants. 

Petzl Hirundos

Weight: 270g (size XS)

The Hirundos is also an ultralight harness for high-end sport climbing. Petzl has pushed the frame construction to the limit. As the S220 LT, the Hirundos is designed primarily for sport climbing. It is an ultralight and super compact harness for maximum performance in sport climbing. Not suited for prolonged hanging. An advantage that the Hirundos offers compared to the S220 LT is that it has four gear loops instead of two, making it a little bit more versatile. The rigid, inclined 3D front equipment loops are designed to guarantee easy access to gear, while the flexible rear loops are designed to stay out of the way while wearing a backpack. 
The frame construction used for the swami belt and for the leg loops favors breathability and offers a decent comfort. However, you really don't want to hang on this harness for more than 5 minutes! The woven polyester mesh on the inside of the harness wicks moisture and efficiently accelerates drying, and this is of great advantage in warm climates. The perforated closed cell foam on the waist belt and leg loops increases breathability and you will notice that. As the S220 LT, the Hirundos also features elasticized leg loops in order to guarantee a correct fit on a certain range of leg sizes and thickness of clothes.

Hirundos vs S220 LT

Test results

We have tested both harnesses exclusively for sport climbing and we evaluated mostly their comfort and their functionality.

Neither the S220 LT nor the Hirundos are very comfortable harnesses, especially if you have to hang on the wall for a long time. So they are not the best choice whenever you need to work on a route all day long or for multi-pitch climbing. But they are definitely the best harnesses whenever you need to push yourself to the limit for your ultimate redpoint or on-sight attempts. The S220 LT may do a tad better in terms of comfort, just because of the wider profile of the swami and the leg loops.

In terms of functionality, both the S220 LT and the Hirundos are extremely light (you'll forget you have them on) and both pack in a ridiculously small volume! For their lightweight and minimal volume they may be both a very good choice also for hikes on glaciers or for cross country skiing in steep terrain, in case you need to rappel.
In our view there are, however, a couple of main advantages that the Hirundos offers in comparison to the S220 LT: 
  1. the Hirundos has four gear loops and a small loop to hang the chalk bag, while the S220 LT only has two gear loops and nothing to hang a chalk bag;
  2. the Hirundos has a much better system to fix the excess strap from the buckle, using three small elastic bands. While on the S220 LT the single loose band is insufficient to fix the excess strap, which often ends up fluttering around;
  3. the S220 LT has a potentially weaker point in its construction, that is the third smaller line of stitches that attaches both the belt loop and the gear loop to the the strap that goes into the buckle. We really do not understand why Arc'teryx has chosen to reduce the size of this third set of seams, which is smaller and possibly weaker than the other two central ones placed on the other side of the buckle, and which also offers less support to the entire structure of the swami.
Finally, it may be worth to mention that Arc'teryx also produces the same harness with WST on both swami and leg loops. This is the R300 model, which is a possible alternative to the two ultra-lightweight harnesses tested here, that you may also want to consider and that is also in the range of 300 g harnesses,. The R300 weights 315g, only about 100g more than the S220 LT, and it is probably a better option in terms of comfort, functionality, and versatility, if you are not so concerned about those few extra grams.