So up for review next is the DMM Renegade which is pitched as ‘the ultimate all round harness’. Now that is quite a bold statement, even for the Welsh, so how can they justify it and what sets this harness apart from the others on the market?
Although some manufacturers do produce harnesses for specific disciplines, it is more common for them to be developed for multiple styles – lets face it, who wants a cupboard full of harnesses, one for each type of climbing! For some climbing styles this is easy, as they share the same requirements (for example most styles, with the exception of top roping, require a number of gear loops), however this is not always the case and some disciplines have more specific needs. That being said, there are two common necessities which apply to harnesses across the board; they need to be safe and lightweight. For this reason, designing a multi-use harness can result in a degree of compromise and sometimes this can be their downfall.
On first inspection, the Renegade is a pretty tidy bit of kit, there are plenty of features incorporated in this harness however it does not look over complicated or congested. Features aside, it generally looks rather smart and stylish, and is certainly not as garish as some of its alternates out there. All in all, we had quite a warm feeling about this harness, so we were eager to try it out and see how it performed on the wall.
When putting on the Renegade, you instantly see the benefits of one of its key features; the use of the slide and lock fastening system, which provides ease of fitment and adjustment. This form of buckling system dramatically reduces the risk of leaving a strap unlocked but can still be completely undone, if required.
The low profile buckles have rounded edges, minimising the possibility of them snagging or digging into you, and these are well placed on the leg and waist straps, which in turn are nicely sized and padded to offer both comfort and support. Both sets of straps are lined with an inner mesh and a durable Cordura outer cover, allowing your body to breath whilst providing resistance to wear. The waist support also incorporates a reinforcing panel at the rear, which supports the lower back nicely, but can limit its packability somewhat.
Similar to other manufacturers, DMM have shrunk the width of the belay loop, but unlike some they have kept it a good thickness. This makes it feel a lot less restrictive but still reassuringly strong, and this is backed up by the 25kN rating. The two tie in loops have been reinforced and provide additional assurance of the build quality and robustness, however they are still well sized and don’t seem to pinch shut, even when retying on a loaded cowstail. This is helped in part by the lower loops rear attachment buckle, which also allows complete detachment of the leg loops from the waist.
We trialled provides ease of fitment and adjustment. This form of buckling system dramatically reduces the risk of leaving a strap unlocked but can still be completely undone, if required. The low profile buckles have rounded edges, minimising the possibility of them snagging or digging into you, and these are well placed on the leg and waist straps, which in turn are nicely sized and padded to offer both comfort and support. Both sets of straps are lined with an inner mesh and a durable Cordura outer cover, allowing your body to breath whilst providing resistance to wear. The waist support also incorporates a reinforcing panel at the rear, which supports the lower back nicely, but can limit its packability somewhat.
We trialled a size small which can be adjusted for a waist measurement of 25 – 31″ (64 – 79cm) and a leg measurement of 18 – 23″ (45 – 58cm) and weighed in at a very respectable 395g. We found that these ranges were set at a good ratio to allow us to adjust both sets of straps to exactly where we wanted them and then efficiently tidy away any excess with the elasticated strips provided.
This sounds like something you would take for granted with an adjustable harness, but we have had experiences with even the smallest sizes in the range, where the waist fits perfectly but the leg straps are too loose, even when fully tightened. The Renegade’s leg loops have relatively thin rear elasticated straps, to stop them sliding down to your knees, but to still allow plenty of movement. These are clipped to the waist loop, to allow them to be detached if necessary, but we found that they can be a little fiddly, although you wouldn’t expect to be adjusting them particularly frequently.
There are two features that we have neglected to mention yet and these really do make the Renegade stand out from the rest. The first is the sliding waist strap, which we can only declare as amazing! This little stroke of genius means that the whole padded section can slide along the waist strap, effectively revolving around the wearer and allowing them to align the padded strap and gear loops with the belay loop. So no more slightly off-centre belay loop and lop sided gear loops, everything becomes centralised, even when you are at the extremes of the harness’ size range!
The second of these features is the sheer amount of gear loops on it. DMM have squeeze d seven of these loops onto the Renegade and these are arranged in such a way that they have the most minimal overlap, allowing even some of the most hefty trad racks to be strapped to it. In addition to these, they’ve even found space for four ice clipper points which are manufactured from resilient Hypalon and should instantly increase the Renegade’s appeal to those of us who like the colder climates.
Two of these points are conveniently situated between the forward two gear loops making them usable even when fully loading the harness, however the other two sit behind the forward gear loop so will interfere with it. That being said, if you run out of gear loops on this harness, you’ve got so much gear you probably won’t be able to get off the ground anyway! The gear loops themselves are rigid plastic and they are attached to the harness by the sheath that covers them. When compared to other gear loop arrangements, this doesn’t necessarily make them the most robust solution, however it does result in them hanging down and out of the way unlike those permanently erect intrusive rigid ones.
The slight down fall to this is that, because they sit closer in to your waist and don’t have as much natural spring as the more rigid ones, they don’t tend to open gates as smoothly. Although this isn’t a huge problem, we did find that you do need to remain a bit more attentive when clipping to the loops, especially when fumbling with your nuts on a sketchy placement (Ooo Err)!
With all the gear loops it is easy to miss the fact that the Renegade doesn’t have a haul loop, and we can only assume that this is due to the difficulty attaching it securely to the sliding waist strap system. Since testing this harness, we haven’t had the need to use a haul loop (and we don’t foresee one in the near future) so can’t say we miss it that much, however we do think that a small chalk bag loop above the rear central gear loop would be a welcome addition. This would satisfy those of us who don’t like having an additional bit of chord tied around our waists or don’t like using a gear loop for that purpose (vertical gear has at least one of these picky individuals lurking in the shadows).
So, all in all, can we really say that this is the best all round harness on the market?……Probably!