The Petzl Sitta combines excellent features, versatility, and lightweight performance into one compact (and expensive) package, earning our respect as the best lightweight harness on the market. Its minimalist design allows for unimpeded movement while climbing, and the thin waist belt and leg loops are surprisingly comfortable while hanging. It has huge gear loops that easily organize your rack while questing into the alpine, and ice clipper slots if you decide to mix it up in winter conditions. This harness can be used for all kinds of climbing, making it the most versatile harness on the market. The main downsides are the high price tag and the lack of hanging comfort compared to some other contenders. If you want a lightweight harness for alpine and mixed climbing that also works for most rock applications, this is the harness for you.Editor's Note: We retested this harness and published our findings on November 3, 2022 to better compare this harness to the competition.
Petzl Sitta Review
Cons: Expensive, not as comfortable for prolonged hanging
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$199.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Most versatile, lightweight, packs small, highly mobile||Very comfortable, large gear loops, good mobility, versatile for all types of climbing||Comfortable to hang in, large gear loops, good mobility, versatile||Unrivaled comfort while belaying and hanging, good mobility, affordable||Great features, comfortable, highly versatile, inexpensive|
|Cons||Expensive, not as comfortable for prolonged hanging||Not very light, expensive||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbing||No ice clipper slots, heavy|
|Bottom Line||This is a lightweight, high-end harness with a top-shelf price tag||A versatile, comfortable harness with refined features, and our favorite harness on the market||A comfortable harness that excels on long, multi-pitch trad routes and is versatile enough for all kinds of rock climbing||One of the most comfortable harnesses you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing||A high-performing rock climbing harness at an excellent price|
|Rating Categories||Petzl Sitta||Arc'teryx C-Quence||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Petzl Sama|
|Hanging Comfort (30%)|
|Standing Comfort and Mobility (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (10%)|
|Total Scores (%)|
|Specs||Petzl Sitta||Arc'teryx C-Quence||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Petzl Sama|
|Designed for these disciplines||Sport, trad, mountaineering||Rock, ice, alpine||Sport, trad, multi-pitch||Sport||Sport, indoor, trad|
|Weight (size large)||10.0 oz||13.7 oz||15.1 oz||13.3 oz||14.8 oz|
|Adjustable Legs||No, elastic||No||No, elastic||No, elastic||No, elastic|
|Ice Clipper Slots||Yes - 2||Yes - 4||No||No||No|
|Waist Belt Construction||WireFrame: support and weight distribution w/o use of foam||Contoured WST (Warp Strength Technology)||Super Fabric||Fusion Comfort Construction: Three bands of webbing, breathable mesh, EVA foam insert||Double webbing strips padded with EndoFrame technology|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Despite its thin waist and leg loops and lack of padding, the Sitta is surprisingly comfortable to hang in. The leg loops cut off circulation to our lower legs slightly more than most of the harnesses we tested — a problem common to all harnesses if you hang out long enough — but that's just about the only complaint we have. The Wireframe construction is very effective at spreading out the load, and we also find that the thin waist belt means that it doesn't ride up as high over our kidneys or lower ribs while hanging, so it's more comfortable than some of the fatter waist belts we tested.
The relative lack of hanging comfort dissuades us from using this harness on long multi-pitch routes with tons of hanging belays, but for more moderate climbs with comfortable belay stances, this harness is plenty comfortable. However, harnesses with a fatter, more padded waist belt and leg loops are more comfortable to hang in.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
The Sitta is the most mobile of the fully-featured climbing harnesses on the market. Its light weight and total lack of bulk translate directly into comfort and freedom of movement when climbing and on the ground, making it an ideal choice for alpine climbing, mountaineering, and redpoint attempts. Compared to many other harnesses, it is hard to notice that you are wearing anything at all. The waist belt is thin and sits flat against the body, and the rear gear loops are also flexible and rest against the body, ensuring comfort when worn with a pack.
The leg loops are not adjustable but have a very wide expansion range of elastic so that they are comfortable to wear regardless of how many layers of clothing one has on. For us, they feel far different and less noticeable (in a good way) than the snugger auto-cinching elastic leg loops on other fixed-loop harnesses. For hanging out around the crag, roped scrambling, or roped glacier travel, the comfort of the Sitta cannot be beaten.
The Sitta ranks near the top when it comes to the performance of its features. We love how there are three keeper loops for the tail end of the waist belt webbing, so that no matter what your waist size, there is no tail dangling into your gear. We also like how the two front gear loops are rigid, easy to clip, very large, and have two moveable dividers that help you to sort gear more easily on your harness. For example, you can rack cams in front of the dividers and slings behind, making it easier to quickly grab the piece of gear you need without having them crowd on each other.
The Sitta has large, flexible rear gear loops that sit flat against the body, so they don't get in the way of wearing a pack, as well as a flat rear gear loop big enough for carrying shoes. It has two ice clipper slots, one on each side, to accommodate ice and alpine climbing. Our only critique is that the ice clipper slots are placed inside of the front gear loop, making for awkward clipping of ice screws.
This harness is the most versatile one we have ever tested. It is capable of everything that some larger and bulkier harnesses are, but is far lighter, more mobile, and easier to carry, making it perfect for any demanding climb that requires a long approach. Its light weight and mobility also make it a great choice for sport climbing redpoints, and indeed we often see people sport climbing in this harness at the crag, though it is much more suited to climbing on the sharp end than belaying someone's project.
One downside compared to other versatile options is the lack of adjustable leg loops. However, among the fixed leg loops harnesses tested, this one has by far the largest range of stretch, and we appreciate the weight and bulk savings by not having two extra buckles and webbing on our legs. If you only want one harness that is an ideal choice for any style of climbing, the Sitta is that jack of all trades.
Weight and Packability
At 10 ounces for a size large, the Sitta is one of the lightest harnesses on the market, and certainly the lightest harness that also has a full set of features like large gear loops and ice clipper slots. This low weight is partially due to Petzl's Wireframe construction, which means that it has many thin pieces of polyethylene (Dyneema) cord arranged in parallel through the waist belt and leg loops, which serve to diffuse the weight of the climber. It also boasts a thin nylon swami belt inside the padded waist belt, and a minimalist yet secure locking buckle.
With such a low weight and such great climbing performance, the Sitta quickly became our favorite harness to use when weight was a consideration, like for alpine climbing, hard redpoint attempts, and any approach longer than an hour and a half. The only compromise this harness makes for its low weight is diminished hanging comfort, which is rarely a concern, but precludes us from bringing it on the steepest walls with lots of hanging belays.
Should You Buy the Petzl Sitta?
This harness retails for far more than any other harness in this review, making it hard to justify this purchase. Discerning and experienced climbers will appreciate the Sitta's low weight and high performance for remote alpine climbing, but most climbers can get by with a less expensive harness that weighs more and doesn't pack as small. If money is no concern, this is a great all-around harness that excels in most applications. But if your budget is limited in any way, there are plenty of great options on the market that cost a fraction of the price.
What Other Climbing Harnesses Should You Consider?
The Petzl Sitta is the most versatile harness that we have tested, in large part due to its extremely low weight and amazing packability. However, the price tag will deter most users. If you are looking for an excellent harness that costs significantly less, the Petzl Sama is a downright bargain. The best-overall Arc'teryx C-Quence is less expensive, slightly heavier, and much more comfortable while hanging. If you don't plan on spending as much time in remote regions, the Black Diamond Solution Guide is our top choice for trad and multipitch climbs where weight isn't a concern. And if you are looking for an even lighter harness that is well-suited to less technical routes and ski mountaineering, check out our favorite mountaineering harness, the Blue Ice Choucas Light.
— Jeff Dobronyi & Andy Wellman
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