Edelrid Loopo Light Harness Review: Alpine Perfection
With the rising trend of ski mountaineering, gear manufacturers have been clamoring to create ultralight harnesses specifically suited to this light-and-fast style of climbing. In 2016 Petzl introduced a whole line of gear aimed at the skimo market, including a harness that weighs a mere 5.3oz. (150 grams). Meanwhile, Edelrid put the rest of the market to shame when they introduced the Loopo Light, weighing an astonishing 2.8oz. (80 grams). That's nearly half the weight of the Petzl Altitude! Edlerid was able to achieve this weight through the use of HDPE, or high-density polyehtelyene. It's basically a type of plastic with very high tensile strength. This allowed Edelrid to use less material for the same strength when compared to traditional nylon harnesses. The result is an ultralight, ultra-packable, fully rated climbing harness for ounce-counting alpinists.
Close-up of the HDPE
But being ultralight doesn't mean it's light on features. It's got detachable leg loops so you can put your harness on without removing skis or crampons. It's got 4 gear loops, plenty to carry all of the gear you'd need on just about any climb. A simple side-release buckle allows you to drop the seat and reflective tie-in loops make it simple to don in the dark. It ticks all the right boxes in all the right ways. So then, even with its scant weight, it's not just some type of emergency harness to get you through the tricky bits. This is a harness that you could use day in and day out all season long. It has everything you need and nothing you don't.
A super simple buckle to drop the seat
I should probably offer a disclaimer with my review: I don't intend on using this for ski mountaineering. In fact, I don't actually ski (besides the bunny slopes at resorts). However, I am an alpine climber, and this harness attracted my attention for a couple of reasons. First, and probably most obvious, the weight! This thing weighs nothing! You could easily stuff this in your pocket and totally forget it's even there. At 2.8oz. this makes it a significant upgrade from my other harness, a pre-'16 Black Diamond Couloir, which isn't exactly a heavyweight.
Right on at 80 grams on the old analog kitchen scale
The other reason this harness interested me was its attachment method. Where almost all harnesses attach via a metal buckle where the strap needs to be doubled back to make sure it can't come undone, the Loopo Light features a far more simple method using a series of loops to secure the harness. This method is much faster and more user friendly than the traditional buckle system and is far easier to put on when you're wearing gloves (and even doable with mittens!). Ask yourself this: if you're getting ready on a frigid summit morning, or suddenly find yourself on a sketchy bit of terrain, how much time and effort do you really want to spend getting your harness on?
Color-coded loops increase the idiot proof-ness
Are there any drawbacks then? Sure, after all, this harness is designed to fill a niche market and isn't an ideal all-purpose harness. First of all, it doesn't have any padding, so don't expect comfort if you end up sitting in it for a while. Though that usually isn't much of a concern for Alpine and skimo climbers. It's also not adjustable, though I've tried the Loopo Light with all kinds of layering systems, and it always seems to fit just fine. The only other concern I see is that your rope or carabiner must go through both loops, put it through just one loop and you're in trouble. But this is very simple and intuitive and is basically a non-issue for all but the most novice of climbers.
Fits well over just a baselayer...
Or over an entire layering system
Edelrid's Loopo Light has certainly raised the bar for ultralight ski mountaineering and alpine climbing harnesses. It manages an incredibly low weight and packed size, while still maintaining most of the features seen on comparable harnesses 3 times its weight. This is the harness I would use on Denali or even bigger objectives. It allows me to save weight without sacrificing the features I need in the alpine. So if you've been searching for the ideal ski mountaineering or alpine climbing harness, stop looking - you've found it.
(I did not receive any compensation - monetarily or otherwise - from Edelrid for my review. I bought this harness with my own money from REI)