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The Petzl Sitta – A standard-setting harness that combines low weight, comfort and durability.
Building a light harness has never been difficult. All you need to do is use less materials. Unfortunately, this approach also tends to create a harness that is often less comfortable and less durable. And while these compromises may not be a problem for certain alpine and mountaineering routes, they are legitimate concerns in almost all other climbing situations.

I suspect that Petzl had the same concerns, which may explain why the new Sitta not only weighs in at a shockingly light 270 g (for a medium), but is also surprisingly comfortable and durable. And while the Sitta was originally conceived as a lightweight and highly compressible alpine harness, its comfortable and unrestrictive fit have made it a popular choice for difficult sport and trad climbs.
Petzl Sitta Harness

Petzl Sitta Harness

So how does Petzl achieve this harness-performance trifecta? Well, the majority of these wins come from its Wireframe Technology construction. And while the name may suggest some complicated manufacturing process, the concept is relatively simple. By using Spectra strands in the waist belt and leg loops, the Sitta achieves excellent load distribution without the drawbacks often encountered with traditional foam padding. It’s a smart approach that provides tangible benefits in terms of reducing weight and bulk while maintaining the comfort necessary when hanging or taking multiple falls. This Spectra frame is then covered with a bonded fabric in the waist belt, which provides solid wear resistance and eliminates the need for chafe-inducing stitching.

As for durability, Petzl realized that most harnesses are replaced because their tie-in points wear out. This is why traditional harnesses have some sort of fabric reinforcement in these areas. Some companies have even started using plastic sleeves to prevent this wear. And while these plastic sleeves are effective they are bulky and add unwanted stiffness to the harness. Petzl’s elegant solution is to encase the tie-in points with Dyneema fabric. Dyneema is not only very durable, but also very slippery (that’s why you can’t make tied spectra slings – the knots will slip). This combination of inherent durability and slickness should help extend the Sitta’s life.

Other details worth noting include a new smoother-operating double-back buckle, four gear loops and a loop for a haul line, two Caritool tool holder slots and ultra-minimalist rear-riser straps.
Wireframe Technology

Petzl Wireframe Technology

Ok, it’s clear that the Sitta is loaded with some pretty compelling features, but does it actually deliver during real-world use? Well, if you are looking for a light and comfortable harness, the answer is a resounding yes. The Sitta’s supple waist belt and Y-style leg loops offer excellent support without restricting movement. The new buckle is incredibly easy to operate and allows for fine adjustments even when you are wearing gloves. For gear intensive routes, the four gear loops (two semi-rigid front loops and the two slightly smaller rear loops) offer plenty of racking space. At this point it’s also worth noting that the rear loops, thanks to their soft construction, can sit unobtrusively when you’re wearing the harness with a pack.

Some observant readers may have noticed that there is a strange looking vertical strap on the front gear loops. This is a sliding divider that you can shift fore and aft to allow for better gear organization. I have to admit that initially I was unsure about this feature, as it seemed like an unnecessary complication that solved a problem that I had never encountered. But after using the harness my initial scepticism about the divider has faded and I have to concede that it is helpful for keeping gear sorted.

I had similar initial misgivings about the durability of the super-thin rear riser straps, but they seem to be holding up, in spite of their accessory cord-like proportions. Continuing with the durability theme, the tie-in point is admirably shrugging off any wear, which is a testament to the durability and slickness of the Dyneema reinforcements, and also perhaps the decision to use a smooth abrasion-fighting finish on the inside surface of the belay loop.
Petzl Sitta Detail

You can see the Spectra cords through the translucent fabric.

Finally, Petzl should be commended for choosing to use (where it can) fabrics in the Sitta that meet bluesign standards. The bluesign designation ensures that the approved materials are constructed with processes that significantly minimize environmental impact. 

At about $180 the Sitta is clearly a premium product, but for that price you get a supremely light and versatile harness that’s comfortable enough for daily cragging, durable enough to last a few seasons and it stuffs into a bag that’s just slightly bigger than the size of a Coke can. For me, these are good enough reasons to put the Sitta at the top of my must-have harness list.
You can find out more about the new Petzl Sitta and other Petzl products at www.petzl.com.
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is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.