The Arc’teryx AR-395a is an excellent choice for climbers looking for an all-around, four season harness to fit every mission. The lightweight and comfortable construction make it work for sport climbing with features that will satisfy many ice and alpine climbers. The gear loops are built for versatility, with removable protective plastic sheaths for more comfortable carrying of a pack, but don’t protrude as much as others which makes it a little harder to access gear.
Comfort The AR-395a performs well in terms of comfort and was reasonably popular with testers. Utilizing Arc’teryx’s Warp Strength Technology allows the harness to distribute pressure and weight along all of the material instead of the traditional method of using a piece of nylon inside the harness padding. This construction has been popular with Arc’teryx harnesses for years and many testers appreciated the comfort and fit of the AR-395a. However, it has its limitations and the AR-395a can get uncomfortable during extended hang sessions or when trying to carry a lot of climbing hardware on the gear loops. Overall, the AR-395a was considered one of the most comfortable harnesses tested.
Adjustability/Smooth Buckles The AR-395a features self locking speed buckles on the leg loops and waistbelt. These buckles were some of the most popular and favorite buckles used on the harnesses tested. The buckles operate smoothly and allowed for easily snugging up the harness. Despite plenty of climbing and hanging in the AR-395a there was no slippage observed during use. Releasing the buckles also proved smooth with easy one-handed operation on the contoured and friendly buckles.
Gear Loops The AR-395a has four wide gear loops that will carry ample gear for sport or trad climbing and feature contoured plastic to aid in organizing gear on your harness and accessing it. The loops protrude a small amount to make access easier but lay pretty flat compared to others tested, making them a little harder to clip gear into. The protective plastic is removable, revealing a thin strip of nylon, allowing users to tailor fit the gear loops for the function you want. Remove the plastic for slim-lined, lightweight alpine climbing missions or to make it more comfortable for carrying a pack. If you do take them off, be forewarned that they can be tricky to get back on. Also really popular with testers was the wide haul loop on the rear that felt like a fifth gear loop. This haul/gear loops lays flat so it worked well when carrying a pack. It doesn’t protrude from the harness so it can be a little hard to find, but because it’s so wide testers were able to find it by just running their hand along the back of the harness. Testers felt that it struck a good balance between being locatable and streamlined.
Features The first thing that often stands out to users of the AR-395a is the light and compact construction of the waistbelt and leg loops, as has been the case with Arc’teryx harness for many years. The AR-395a uses Arc’teryx’s Warp Strength Technology to create a wide waistbelt and leg loops that distribute pressure while hanging in the harness, yet its construction also allows for thin material that folds up and stuffs into a pack easily. The Burly Double Weave material is supposed to allow stretch while being durable and during our testing the AR-395a held up to a lot of abuse and wear and tear, including scrappy chimneys and sharp rock. Outside of those construction features, ice climbers will love the four ice clipper attachment points that give plenty of options for carrying a large rack of screws.
Versatility The AR-395a is designed as an all around harness and from the harnesses tested in this review, it’s the closest you’ll come to a quiver-of-one harness. With four ice clipper attachment points and adjustable leg loops, it’s a great option for ice climbing and alpine/snow objectives. Its light weight and ease of movement make it a solid choice for clipping bolts while sport climbing. And, with four gear loops, a wide haul loop and compact packability the AR-395a works admirably as a trad climbing or multi-pitch harness. Yet, it’s in the trad and multi-pitch realm where the AR-395a felt somewhat limited, as it often felt uncomfortable for testers when weighed down with large amounts of gear.
Weight At 395 grams (13.9 ounces), the AR-395a is one of the lighter harnesses in this round of tests and one of the lightest all-around climbing harnesses on the market. While not the lightest harness on the market, it compares favorably in terms of weight with other harnesses that have similar features and the ability to be so versatile.