The new lighter, sleeker and sexier Arc’Teryx S220 LT harness is a an improvement on its predecessor, the S240, a favorite among sport and ice climbers and alpinists.
When the S240 came out in 2009, I was immediately impressed by its relative weightlessness and surprising back support considering it lacked the padding I’m accustomed to seeing in most harnesses. The latter feature owes to Arc’Teryx’s Warp Strength Technology, which takes the “warp,” or longitudinal, fibers of the swami’s webbing and fans them out, almost like a hammock, to be supportive at every point of the harness’ waist. My only complaint of the S240 was its leg loops, which consistently made my legs go numb while I held my handgogging partner’s weight, or was bolting a route.
The new S220 LT uses the same WST in the waist, and I am still surprised and impressed by its sleekness and comfort. The biggest change is the leg loops, which have been redesigned using a stiffer mesh fabric, and shaped to be wider and more conical. The stiffer, wider loops are a vast improvement in that I’ve found them comfortable while belaying and hanging on my project. Best of all, my legs no longer go numb in the S220 LT.
The S220 LT is 220 grams (7.75 ounces), 20 grams lighter than the S240. These days, the weight of any harness on the market is rarely an issue, and I can’t say I notice a mere 20 grams one way or the other, but taking up space in my pack can be an issue. My favorite feature is how small the S220 LT packs down. Accompanying the rig is a stretchy mesh bag, about the size of a small notebook, that easily allows you to pack the harness away. Fold the harness in half, then fold it again, and it easily tucks into the mesh bag. This is the lightest, most compact and most versatile harness I’ve ever tested.
Two gear loops made of hard polyurethane rack gear forward, and are easy to clip. The waist webbing is doubled-back through an easy anodized aluminum buckle. Cinching down the harness around the waist is easy. You can tuck the tail of the webbing under the left gear loop and put it through an easy-to-thread loop. However, the fore gear loop attachment point seems to interfere with the webbing laying flat against the waist, and it can stick out a bit, which makes it easy to also clip it when clipping to the gear loop.
While the leg loops have been greatly improved, I found their size to be too large for me. On a few occasions, the leg loop pinched the crown jewels, causing a moment of disorder to run rampant through my kingdom. While I prefer fixed leg loops as opposed to adjustable ones with buckles, I wish it were possible to mix and match waist belts and leg loops. I would even pay extra for it!