Petzl Sama Harness
Weight: 370 g (size M)
Size Tested: M
Season: 3-Season; designed for sport climbing
Waist Belt: EndoFrame construction
Leg Loops: Elastic fixed leg loops with EndoFrame construction
Buckles: DoubleBack Light buckle on waist belt
Gear Loops: Four equipment loops—two rigid in front, two flexible in rear
Haul Loop: Rear loop for haul rope
Climber Type: Primarily bouldering, sport climbing
Days Tested: Approximately 20 days
Test Locations: Sinks Canyon, Lander WY; Wild Iris, Lander WY; Wolf Point, Lander WY; Rock Springs Buttress, Jackson WY; Cueva de la Cabra, Jackson WY; Blacktail Butte, Jackson WY; Teton Canyon, WY
As someone who’s spent the vast majority of his time bouldering, I’ve always been drawn to the simplicity of the sport. All you really need for a fun day at the boulders is a pair of shoes, some chalk, and a crash pad.
I recently started sport climbing more frequently, and, while it obviously requires more gear than bouldering, I still appreciate its minimal nature. Unlike trad climbing or mountaineering—where success depends on the gear in your pack—sport climbing simply requires shoes, a harness, chalk, a rope, and a set of quickdraws. You can leave your sport climbing setup untouched for months, and still be prepared at a moment’s notice for a trip to the crag.
The Petzl Sama harness has become a staple of my sport climbing pack. It’s a minimalist harness without any extra bells and whistles that’s designed to be a comfortable, well-ventilated, top-of-the line sport climbing tool—and it only costs $65.
One of the key features on any harness is the waist belt. In my opinion, the waist belt needs to provide enough padding and support to keep me comfortable while I’m hanging in it, but it shouldn’t inhibit movement and thus affect climbing performance.
To achieve this balance, the Sama is built with “EndoFrame” construction—it has double interior webbing straps, wide sides, a narrow front and back, and mesh on the inside of the belt with only a few seams.
I really like this design, which differs from a harness like the Black Diamond Momentum 3S that’s widest in the back. The two interior pieces of webbing in the Sama distribute the load throughout the waist belt and ensure that the climber is secure. Wide sides mean more weight is distributed to the hips rather than to the lower back, increasing both comfort and support. Finally, the narrow front and back allow for increased freedom of movement and keep the harness from feeling bulky.
This harness is also very breathable due to the mesh on the inside of the waist belt. And there aren’t any seams that cause pressure points. Even during my longest work and belay sessions on the 35-meter Soul Super Power 5.13c at the Rock Spring Buttress just outside of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, I haven’t experienced any pressure points or soreness.
This waist belt design is unique to Petzl harnesses and, while I can’t say which of these individual features makes the biggest difference, I have found that the Sama never inhibits freedom of movement and is the most comfortable harness I use when it comes to hanging for extended periods of time.
The Sama has fixed-size elastic leg loops that have the same EndoFrame construction as the waist belt. Unlike the leg loops on the Momentum 3S or the Petzl Adjama, the Sama’s leg loops aren’t adjustable (make sure you buy the right size when you purchase the harness—more on this below), and they’re one of the features that defines the harness as a sport climbing-specific tool.
The Sama weighs the same as the Momentum 3S, and it’s only 20g lighter than the Petzl Adjama. But since adjustable leg loops aren’t necessary for sport climbing, the simplified design eliminates one thing that needs to be adjusted—a bonus in my book.
While I wouldn’t grab the Sama for a trip into the mountains where I might want to layer up for colder conditions, the Sama is a really good choice for a day at the sport crag.
Fit / Sizing
I chose to go with the medium Sama—the same size I wear in the Black Diamond Momentum 3S. The medium waist belt, which accommodates 76 to 86cm, fit like the Momentum 3S. When I synched the waist belt down, I was at the small end of this range, but I could have made the belt tighter if necessary.
I initially found the leg loops on the medium Sama to be a bit tight. They never inhibited any climbing movement, but simply felt a bit snugger than I would have liked had I been tightening adjustable leg loops myself.
But after a few days climbing in the Sama, the elasticity of the leg loops broke in and they became loose enough that the harness was comfortable even when I wore heavier pants like Carhartts.
I’ve found that the Sama’s leg loops comfortably distribute my weight when I’m hanging in the harness. The elasticity allows me to move freely—I almost forget I’m wearing a harness when I climb.
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