A few months ago, I was contacted by Mike Grimm, owner of Misty Mountain Threadworks. He asked if he could make me a harness. Misty Mountain is a well-respected local company in Western North Carolina that has been around for quite a while. They have a reputation for not only developing superior products, but also for a committment to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint.
After a few emails back and forth, followed by some detailed instructions regarding a measuring tape, I had a chance to try out my new rig the week before Christmas, on my first day back from hiatus. Mike hooked me up with a custom version of the Women’s Bolt, which is a versatile harness that, according to Misty Mountain, “has the DNA of trad harnesses running through it’s sport harness veins.” Here are my first impressions (which, in full disclosure, are, of course, my honest opinion, despite the fact that my gear was free).
LIGHTWEIGHT: The Bolt weighs significantly less than any of my other harnesses. It may only be psychological, but it seems like every ounce counts when you're pumped out of your mind on overhanging terrain, trying to pull up enough rope to make the clip.
STURDY: I was amazed that such a minimal harness could still provide adequate support and comfort. If I was spending more of my time at hanging belays on long multi-pitch days, my guess is that I’d want a good deal more cushion, but for my usual roped climbing modus operandi (a heavy helping of sport with a side of trad), the Bolt is definitely substantial.
GREAT FIT: This harness is the first that I’ve had without adjustable leg loops, so I was a little concerned about getting the fit right, especially when I first tried it on, but it turns out all this time I’d been climbing on harnesses with leg loops too big, and with a waist that was too small.
QUICK ADJUST: A quick-adjust buckle provides the same level of safety as a regular buckle without having to double-back. Practically speaking, this means I can take my harness off and still keep it intact (which, in the long run, amounts to a lot less frustration trying to pull on a jumbled, gear-laden mess after a quick pre-redpoint potty break.
I wasn’t really expecting to see a monumental difference, as I’d always thought that all harnesses were basically created equal. But after just a few test spins with my Misty Mountain setup, I quickly realized the naivete of my thinking. Now that I’ve learned firsthand how a harness is supposed to fit and feel, it’d be a hard sell to get me to wear anything else. But the best part? Since I’ve switched to Misty Mountain this past month, I’ve sent my first two 5.12′s. Coincidence? Maybe (well, probably). But either way, Misty Mountain is working out nicely for not just me, but also the hubby, who scored a Misty Mountain harness of his very own for his birthday, courtesy of his amazing wife.
Hits: Lightweight yet sturdy, this harness taught me what "fit" really means.
Misses: A little spare on cushion for long, hanging belays and multi-day climbs.
To read more gear reviews, helpful tips and how-to’s for taking your family into the great outdoors, check out Erica's blog, Cragmama.com, an online resource for adventurous families and families-to-be.