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.
The 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).
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.
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.
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.