Wild Country Elite Ziplock ReviewJanuary 15, 2012
- Lumbar padding on waist belt and ‘comfort mesh’ foam belt cradles bones.
- Aggressive gear loops spread gear evenly around harness.
- 5 gear loops: 2 front, 2 offset rear full-strength gear loops with 1 broad gear loop in between.
- Drop seat feature easy to operate.
- Tie-in point wear indicator.
- Possible to completely remove leg loops.
- Heaviest, bulkiest harness in the review.
- Auto-locking waist and leg loop buckles take some time to adjust.
- The leg loop buckles do not lay flat against the thighs but point vertically.
- Hard to thread excess waist loop/leg loop webbing into retainers.
- Supple design takes longer than many other harnesses to take on and off.
- Bulky belay loop.
- Padded waist belt does not accommodate plastic ice biners.
This was the heaviest, bulkiest and also one of the most supportive harnesses in the review. The leg loop buckles were stiff to slide and point vertically, and because of its supple design, putting on and removing this harness took longer than stiffer ones like the Petzl Adjama and Black Diamond Momentum SA. Take note, sizing does run larger than other harnesses reviewed. The Elite is best for climbers who desire premium support and don’t mind the extra bulk. Great for ice, sport/trad long routes, big walls.
My first impression of The Wild Country Elite is that it was just too much material. However, after prolonged periods of hanging in it, I noticed that the lumbar padding was supportive while the padded waist belt cradled my bones. The leg loop buckles, however, were the least ergonomic ones reviewed. They didn’t lie flay across my thighs like other harnesses, but pointed vertically, making the buckles grind in wide cracks more than others like the Petzl Adjama. However, they didn’t cause discomfort. The five crescent-moon gear loops are positioned at a forward slant, except for the rear one which lays flat against the rear of the harness. Front-slanting gear loops shift gear forward like a vending machine dispenser. The waist and leg loop buckles required more time than the other harnesses to micro adjust and the slack was nearly impossible to feed into the sheaths.
The Elite has two offset, full-strength gear loops with a broad half-moon gear loop in between. One loop allows a vertical carabiner to fit through one, while the other is flat like the Misty Sonic and Black Diamond SA. The three options are useful—simply clip a biner to one side or the other when chimneying, or keep haul lines or other ropes/slings apart by distributing the loads on either side. The broad rear gear loop takes a beating when dragged through chimneys, but it is made of abrasion resistant material. All five testers agreed that climbers shouldn’t wear adjustable harnesses in chimneys because the additional buckles scrape. The padding on the Elite is too thick to take most plastic ice biners.
The auto-locking buckles are not as smooth to operate as the Misty Sonic, Metolius Safe Tech (Trad) or Petzl Adjama but don’t take as time/energy to get used to using.