Long Term Review: Arc’teryx B-360a Harness

Arcteryx’s B-360a harness appeals to me on many levels: it has six gear-loops for the OCD organizer in me; multiple ice-clipper slots for year-round use; a wide, comfortable waistbelt for endless hanging belays and Arcteryx’s typical ultra-light and ultra-thin construction. Add a haul loop and adjustable leg loops and it sounds like an awesome do-it-all harness. But…

The six gear loops are relatively small, which isn’t really a big issue, but more annoying is that one of the loops is placed above the other two, overlapping any gear hanging from it. This makes accessing gear on the lower rear loop a pain, and, in my experience anyway, creates endless snags between gear on the upper and lower loops.

REV_B360_002The six gears loops are great – until they get in the way of each other. The upper one is particularly awkward, often clipping itself into the ice-clipper (how?!) or snagging on other gear. Maybe if I cut it off…

Then we come to the ice clipper slots. It’s great to see these on a non-ice specific harness, but, as with the gear loops, their positioning is awkward at best. Of the ten available slots, only two don’t directly overlap any of the gear loops, and only four are positioned in such a way as to not be underneath the upper gear loop. This creates all sorts of problems when racking gear, from biners on the lower loops getting clipped into the ice clippers, to the upper gear loop clipping itself into the ice clippers. On the plus side, the slots are positioned on the side of the harness over the hips, so even with four clippers in place, you can rack screws and tools out of the way on the side and avoid any screw-in-upper-thigh moments.

Arcteryx’s WARP-strength construction technology and the super-wide waistbelt make for an incredibly comfortable harness. This is the harness I bring whenever I know I’ll be facing a long hanging belay, or hauling a ton of gear. It is by far the most comfortable harness I’ve ever worn. The thin construction means it’s also incredibly packable, comfortably fitting into my helmet (my benchmark for what constitutes a ‘packable’ harness).

REV_B360_001The waistbelt is very wide and comfortable, but also easily packable. The harness can accomodate a lot of gear!

But, there are some other niggles, too. The waist belt keeper loop spans the entire width of the belt, and is positioned so far back on the harness that the excess belt never stays in place. This also applies to the keepers on the leg loops, though as these are in a better position, the extra belt actually stays put for slightly longer than on the waistbelt.

REV_B360_003The belt keeper-loop spans the width of the waistbelt, and doesn’t hold the belt in at all. The haul loop is a great feature, as are the quick-release leg loop elastics.

Further, the lower tie-in point, as on the I-340a I reviewed previously, is much too stiff, pushing the leg loops apart and eventually unfastening the lower keeper loop, causing the leg loops to slide freely through the belay loop. This isn’t an issue until you’re hanging in the harness for long periods at a time, and is particularly bothersome when rappelling, as the stiff tie-in point gets stuck on either side of the belay loop. To compound the issue, the tie-in point is so stiff that it’s frustratingly difficult to try and tighten up its keeper loop without the aid of a third hand, or a handy pair of locking pliers.

REV_B360_004The lower tie-in point is extremely, and awkwardly, stiff, even after a year of use.

Add to all this a $175 price tag, and you’re left with a very comfortable harness that has, unfortunately, badly positioned gear loops, inconveniently placed ice-clipper slots, has issues with keeping excess straps contained, has an awkwardly stiff tie-in point, and additionally costs significantly more than any other harness I know of.

I really want to like this harness. It is so, so good on paper. It appears absolutely amazing, which is why I ordered it in the first place. But, unfortunately, it is severely lacking in execution details. A friend of mine — sponsored by a particular well-known company — has said this is his favourite harness and, I too, really, really wanted to love it. But after trying it for well over a year on everything from short sport routes to run-out ice pitches to wandering alpine routes, I just can’t bring myself to like it.

Pros: comfortable, light & packable; six gear loops; ten ice clipper slots.

Cons: gear loops overlap each other; ice clippers overlap, and as a result get caught in, the gear loops; stiff lower tie-in point shifts around; expensive.

Overall: Great features that need to be repositioned keep the B-360a from being a harness I can recommend. It’s comfortable to hang around in, but frustrating to use.

7 thoughts on “Long Term Review: Arc’teryx B-360a Harness

    • Raf says:

      If you are thinking Petzl Summit, then no, those are Nomics wrapped with extra grip-tape.

  1. chris says:

    I found it funny reading this article because just about everything you mentioned i felt the complete opposite about…funny how one piece of gear can be so different depending on who you talk to!

    • Raf says:

      Haha, that’s the beauty of opinions! What one person loves, another doesn’t, but that’s why there’s so much different gear out there.

  2. Clint says:

    Hi Raf, great review. I have been using Arc’teryx’s line of ice harnesses and need to upgrade to get a harness more appropriately sized to my body (I accidentally bought a medium when I should have bought a small). Their newest ice model harness seems to have similar problems: poor gear loop placement and poor ice clipper placement. I think these harnesses are insanely comfortable and hate to switch brands. If I do, what would you recommend as an alternative to the b360a? Wishing I could go back to the 2011 lineup.

    • Raf says:

      I know what you mean – I’ve got a few friends who are holding onto their trusty X-350a in lieu of the newer I-340a!

      Personally, I use the M-280 for ice, alpine or multi-pitch mixed (and switch to a Petzl Sama for mixed cragging where I’ll be falling a lot). The M-280 has been replaced by the M-270. These harnesses have only two gear loops (which might be a bit too small on the size-small harness, as they scale relative to waist size) but have multiple ice-clipper slots that are ringed all around the torso. The M-280 had only four (one at each end of the two gear loops) whereas the M-270 has one of those ice-clipper daisy-chain things so it ‘technically’ has 14, though I think only a few are of any use.

      My other recommendation, and a harness I used extensively last year, is the BD Aspect. See my review here: https://www.thealpinestart.com/2013/04/field-tested-black-diamond-aspectlotus-harness/

      I believe the new-for-2013 BD Xenos is an improvement upon the Aspect: six ice clipper slots, four gear loops and a large stash loop on the back. (I’ve ordered one but am still waiting for it to arrive!)

      NOTE: I haven’t reviewed the M-280 as it’s outdated, and the M-270 will be discontinued within the next year or so as well.

  3. Northeast Alpine Start says:

    I had to do a double take at “ten ice clipper” spots! Ten? OMG I want to put ten ice clippers on at the same time just to see what it looks like… Showing up at a crowded crag with 10 clippers and about 40 ice screws and a hidden camera would definitely capture some funny looks!

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