Black Diamond Momentum Review
Cons: Not the most comfortable for hanging, smaller gear loops, no ice clipper slots
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Momentum has a simple design that keeps it affordable, yet remains surprisingly comfortable. While we compared it to many more expensive specialty harnesses, which were admittedly more comfortable for most uses, taken in isolation we think that most people would be more than content with this one. It works great for those who like to save a bit of money and typically climb in the gym or at the sport crag. Its gear loops are fairly small and can hold a light rack for some trad cragging, but isn't our favorite choice for multi-pitching.
In the middle of 2020 this harness was updated. Although it looks basically the same, and the updates have minimal effect on performance, this is a slightly improved version. Look closely and you will see that the foam used as padding in both the waist belt and the leg loops is a bit lower profile, and not as thick and bulky as the older version. This change seems to have shaved off some weight as well, as we measured it losing 1.3 ounces compared to the previous version. The Momentum also comes in a women's version, and both a 3S version, which has metal adjustable buckles on the leg loops instead of the plastic TrakFit buckles, and a 4S version which has the metal leg buckles as well as double waist belt buckles for greater adjustability.
Black Diamond calls the technology used in the waist and leg loops Dual Core Construction. This means there are two strips of webbing, one at the top and one at the bottom, running parallel to each other within the belt and loops. These are heavily padded with foam and a soft breathable mesh fabric. Compared to many harnesses, this is a fairly low tech approach, but one that helps keep the price down. It also does a nice job of padding the legs and around the hips. When hanging in the harness for more than a few moments, however, we start to notice the waist belt riding up underneath our ribs, and this puts a lot of stress on our kidneys. While the leg loops remain sufficiently comfortable, we start to squirm pretty quick in an effort to relieve the stress on the gut and lower back. Many other designs don't ride up in quite the same way, and are therefore more comfortable while hanging.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
The foam padding found on the waist and leg loops is comfortable, but also significantly more present than the very thin, unpadded loops found on many other harnesses. When walking about, the pads on the leg loops rub against each other. The thickness of the foam on the waist doesn't make it a very ideal choice for wearing with a pack on because the waist straps will catch on the bulkiness of the harness. We have no issues with comfort here, but let's just say that you aren't likely to forget you are wearing a harness with this one on.
The Momentum has a minimal feature set that serves well for sport climbing and in the gym, but doesn't really provide enough for multi-pitch climbing. It has four gear loops with rigid plastic coverings that are flat and easy to clip. However, they are not super large compared to many harnesses, and there is no fifth gear loop in the back for storing things such as shoes, a jacket, or belay biners and slings. There is a small unrated haul loop on the back, but it's so small it can be hard to clip blind.
The legs are adjusted using the TrakFit system, which is essentially a plastic buckle that slides back and forth to tighten or loosen the fit. We love the way this works, and think it provides the simplest and easily adjustabe harness that we've tried. It is a cinch to change the tightness as desired on the fly. The main buckle, on the other hand, is a bit of a challenge to easily manipulate as it feels as if the webbing is a bit too large and thick, making it sticky and hard to easily pull through or loosen.
When belaying and holding a resting or hanging climber for long periods of time, the force of their weight is focused almost entirely on the leg loops, especially where they wrap around the inside of the thighs to join at the front of the harness. The Momentum is heavily padded in this area, and thus is pretty comfortable, and in our testing and belaying, we never experienced the uncomfortable gouging that can happen with some harness designs. The amount of foam padding is a bit bulky in the crotch, and means we were more likely to have to adjust ourselves so that everything sits comfortably, although we noticed this is less of an issue when wearing shorts rather than pants, and is something we sort of expect to have to do anyway.
This is not a very versatile harness, and is best used for single pitch cragging. It doesn't have the amount of gear storage space on its gear loops that we appreciate for multi-pitch climbing. Likewise, there are no ice clipper slots, which make it hard to consider for doing much ice climbing, unless you are simply top-roping. The bulkiness of the foam padding doesn't interface with a pack very well, so it's also not ideal for alpine and mountaineering.
On the plus side, at only 10.6 ounces, this is a fairly light harness compared to most of the competition, so isn't likely to weigh you down on the hike to the crag.
The retail price for this harness is lower than virtually any other one you could buy. While it isn't the highest ranked in our review, we think it provides solid value, provided you intend to stick to the gym or sport crags for leading or top-roping. It is a solid budget choice, especially for those looking to get into climbing while spending the least amount.
The Black Diamond Momentum is newly updated, yet remains the same solid, well-padded, and affordable choice that it's always been. Its easily adjustable leg loops and foam cushioned waist belt provide plenty of comfort for sport and gym climbing, although it lacks the gear carrying capacity and features for other styles of climbing.
— Andy Wellman
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