Mammut Realization Short
Size Tested: Large
Reviewer Info: 6’1”, 185 lbs.
Reviewer Waist: 33”
Days Tested: 20
Locations Tested: El Rito, The Enchanted Tower, & The Dungeon, New Mexico
When it comes to rock climbing harnesses, there’s a wide variety to choose from. From simple, inexpensive webbing to heavily-padded harnesses geared toward all-day comfort, there’s likely one that will fit your needs.
And now there’s a new, very interesting (albeit expensive) harness on the market: Mammut’s Realization Short, a pair of shorts with a built-in harness.
These are some cool looking shorts, in my opinion. They look and fit like board shorts, and I like the color and the detailing. The material does feel a bit heavier and tougher than a board short, and it also seems to be a bit stretchier.
The Realization shorts have a gusseted crotch for flexibility, and five pockets. The two back pockets close with velcro and are pretty roomy, while the two front pockets are deep enough so that items inside (a phone or keys) sit below the leg loops of the harness. The fifth pocket on the outside of the lower right leg is designed to accommodate a brush.
Finally, the shorts have a mesh retention-like system similar to what you’d find on the inside of swim trunks or running shorts.
I am 6’1” 185 lbs. I have a 33” waist and usually wear a medium in Prana, The North Face, Khul and most other climbing brands. I’ve been wearing a large Realization Short, and I actually think the medium would be the better fit. While I don’t feel like the harness is so big I can’t climb in it, I am at the bottom of the waist adjustment with nowhere to go if I lose a few pounds.
Instead of a zipper and a button for closure, the Realization shorts use a very simple elastic drawcord that works very well. At first I thought this system might loosen up on me, but I haven’t experienced any issues with it so far.
There’s no zipper, but if you’re over hydrated and need a release, the waist at the front of the shorts is elastic and you can pull the front panel down without having to take the shorts off completely.
The shorts are very comfortable and when I’m walking around, I hardly feel the harness. They don’t restrict my movement in any way, but after the day of climbing is over, they still aren’t quite as comfortable as a regular pair of shorts.
The internal harness is also very comfortable and feels like one of Mammut’s higher-end ones, probably due in part to the use of the Split Webbing technology. In the case of the Realization shorts, the Split Webbing—a process that essentially eliminates the need to stitch on a second webbing, thus reducing weight and improving pressure distribution according to Mammut—is integrated into the waistband of the shorts. It looks very similar to the company’s Zephir harness, a 250g harness that also uses Split Webbing.
The waist is wide at the back before tapering at the hips, and the leg loops aren’t adjustable. Instead of a belay loop or waist strap to double back or cinch closed, there are two stiff, reinforced loops you can tie into. I haven’t ever used a harness that closes like this, although there is an old school mountaineering harness called the alpine bod with a similar set-up.
This is a very easy-to-use system, but you could argue that you lose some adjustability. Granted, I never felt unsafe climbing or falling in the harness, and I never needed the harness to be any tighter.
Overall, I would say this is one of the most comfortable harnesses I’ve worn. It’s a great lightweight sport harness that I found to be comfortable even when I was hanging in it for a long time. I’m just as comfortable in these shorts as I am in the Arc’teryx R-275 LT harness ($125) or the Petzl Calidris harness ($99.95), in fact, I found that the Realization Short doesn’t ride up as much as those other harnesses, and it doesn’t “bulge” at all.
The fabric of the shorts seemed to breathe well—the material is durable without feeling heavy or hot; it feels very similar to the fabric used in the Prana Mojo short.
And since you don’t have to wear shorts or pants under the harness, there’s no spot where I felt constricted, and I found that I didn’t sweat as much under the harness. Nice.
The harness comes with only two gear loops, which can get a bit crowded. The gear loops, made from webbing wrapped in a molded plastic, hang close to your hip when not in use and are easy to clip and unclip quickdraws to. I did occasionally find myself wishing for a third gear loop on the back to keep things more organized, but this wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
Durability / Smell
After climbing in these shorts for a few months, I have to say they’re holding up very well. The material is very durable and I haven’t noticed any signs of wear. These shorts kept me cool on hot days, and they still don’t smell after many days of use.
When they do get smelly, you can wash the shorts on a gentle cycle and hang dry, according to the directions on the tag.
I really like the Realization shorts. They’re more comfortable than many other harnesses I’ve worn, and I found the short / harness combo to be very breathable.
That said, these shorts are designed for people who train in the gym and sport climb in warm weather. While I do both of those activities, I also have to wear pants when the temperatures drop, so I can’t see these shorts serving as a one-harness quiver.
These shorts also cost as much (if not more) as the most expensive harnesses on the market, without the versatility of year-round use. I’ve used both the Arc’teryx R-275 LT harness ($125) and the Petzl Calidris harness ($99.95), which cost significantly less than the Realization Short. They’re almost as comfortable, and I can make use of them in cold weather.
But if money and versatility aren’t an issue, and you want an interesting harness that’s very comfortable, well-designed, and good looking, you should check out Mammut’s Realization Short.