For a climber looking to carry a lot of gear and spend time in their harness, there’s a lot to love in the design of the FL-365.
All the harnesses in the Arc’teryx line make use of what they call Warp Strength Technology, which is essentially a broad band of load-bearing fibers that uses almost all of the width of the leg loops and waistband to hold you up. After some use, you’ll see that the fibers don’t go all the way to the edges, but they’re close. The feel while using the harness is markedly different from any of the webbing plus padding or split webbing harness I’ve spent any time in. There’s a more consistent feel to the support over the Solution, which is again twice as nice as the webbing style harnesses I’ve tried.
The leg loops are removable if going for a swami is something you want in a big wall ledge camp scenario.
Does anyone seriously store their harness in the mesh bag it comes in? I don’t. Said mesh bag is now the stuff sack for my BD Megalight tent. However, Arc’teryx would do well to add a small loop of webbing to the mesh bag, as that would increase its usefulness for carrying a jacket or some bars while multi-pitching.
Buckles that come loose or worse simply won’t come loose even when you want them to (BD is notorious for this) are a pain. Leave it to Arc’teryx to make one that doesn’t slip, cinches nicely, and is never hard to undo.
Both hard points and the belay loop are equipped with bright colored wear indicators. No more guessing about how far you’ve taken them, or whether things are dangerous yet or not—if you can see the red, it’s time to retire. Simple.
It’s amazing to me how many of the rear riser systems out there are totally frustrating to operate. Not so with the FL-365. The tab that holds both risers to the waistband is easy to function without looking, and they clearly thought about how it should work when you put it back.
The slots for ice clippers are sewn perfectly, and hold them rigid. I used the ice clippers primarily to hold scrubbing tools, and they worked flawlessly. Their placement slots them directly between the racking loops, so that gear stacks well.
Racking options make or break a harness for me: I like to be able to carry a pile of gear while trad climbing or during setup/teardown while guiding, so the way that pro and anchors and all my extra personal nonsense sits on a harness matters.
The FL-365 sports five gear loops: two on each side, with one centered in the back that doubles as a non-rated haul loop. Each side option has a removable plastic sleeve that uses angles and gravity to pull gear together in the forward third of the loop. Such engineering is nice, because the loops themselves are huge (5.5” of racking space per loop), and a singles rack of cams (.3-3 BD Camalots) takes up about half the space on one loop—it’s nice to have those pulled forward when carrying less gear, and the angle isn’t so steep as to make everything get tangled together on the loop.
A double rack of cams plus a pile of passive gear plus seventeen alpine draws plus my gloves, nut tool, prussiks, etc didn’t fully fill out the racking space while in Blodgett Canyon this summer. This thing can haul gear.
Removing the plastic sleeves on the gear loops would save a few grams, so if that’s your thing, it’s an option.
The middle loop in the back offers extra racking options for those carrying a lot. I’ve used it to trail ropes on a couple of occasions while cragging, and it does just fine there. Yet mulitpitching is where it shines the most. Nonessential gear for leading like anchors, prussiks, a light jacket, and everything else goes back onto this “haul” loop. It’s out of the way from anything I’d be using to protect the climb, doesn’t interfere with my chalk bag, and functions as a sort of extra storage. Brilliant.
Aluminum oxide/steel gunk from my rack has rubbed off and shows up super well on the neon plastic of the gear loop sleeves but simple water and a paper towel takes it right off.
I really do hate hipbelts on climbing packs. The small leader pack I use, the Flash 18 from Klymit, doesn’t have a hipbelt. The hipbelts on the Osprey Variant series are somewhat wider and partially cover the gear loops on the FL-365, which I’ve found annoying in the little bit of carrying I’ve done around local crags and while guiding. If carrying a big pack with a hipbelt and having access to all your gear loops is an absolute must, take your pack with you while you try on the harness and check the compatibility.
I haven’t had the FL-365 long enough to give it a substantive test of its durability. That said, it sheds dirt and grime pretty well, and only looks a little grubby for all the use.
Who’s it For?
Really, the 365 in the name says it all: this thing is meant for the climber who wants to carry gear year round. Ice, trad, sport, maybe alpine if the elastic leg loops accommodate your layers, it could well be a quiver of one for most things I’d consider fun that require a harness.
If you only climb sport or in the gym, I’d see the comfort of the FL-365 as nice, but the gear racking options feel like overkill for those venues. The wider bands of the leg loops and waistband might lead to more sweat while getting gymnastic indoors or at sport crags than other cheaper, comparable options. And really, why are you considering spending $145 when there’s a bevy of great options for half the price?
The FL-365 packs a lot of great features and comfort into a somewhat lightweight package, but all that comes at the price. A price only equaled by a handful of other harnesses out there.
If you climb a lot, spend a lot of time in your harness, and need the level of racking storage the the FL-356 provides for trad, aid, or ice, I’d say it’s worth the price. However, you could buy a sixer of nice draws and a brand new harness for the same coin. Or lunch and a day of skiing at Whistler. Or gas to drive nine hours to Seattle, roundtrip. Your call.