“How ya doing today, Danny?” I asked my friend at the warm-up area of our mutually favorite sport crag, Rifle.
“Well, if you judge my day based on my skin condition,” Danny said, “then I’m doing pretty shitty.” Danny held up his hands to show me torn flaps of skin in at least three of his fingers. Ouch. “How ‘bout you?”
“Well if you judge my day based on whether I’m wearing Harness Pants,” I said, “then, yes, I am wearing Harness Pants.” I thrust my groin forward to show off my nifty piece of equipment (the pants and not, well, you know). Danny laughed.
Later that morning, I was climbing my second warm-up and noticed some people on the ground looking up at me, rather confused. “Don’t worry!” I called down to assure these onlookers. “These are Harness Pants! There’s a harness actually built inside the pants!” They laughed.
Well, laugh all you want but the Mammut Realization Pants—aka “Harness Pants” as I call them—are fundamentally a really great idea with a ton of potential. And while this out-of-the-box / harness-inside-the-pants concept may generate gapes and grins from curious spectators, I can almost guarantee you that we’re going to see more Harness Pants come to market in the future. Again, the potential is here.
The question nobody can seem to answer is: Why would you wear Harness Pants?
And if Harness Pants are ever going to catch on, then answer has to be that they are more comfortable than the traditional pants/harness combo (which shouldn’t be that hard, right?). For Harness Pants to succeed, they have to be more comfortable otherwise there’s no reason to give up the practicality of a normal harness.
So, are the Mammut Realization Pants more comfortable than a traditional harness?
Well … Sort of. Walking around the crags, sitting down to each lunch, climbing and even belaying are all just as comfortable—if not more so—than wearing a regular harness.
Lowering off of routes, falling, extended hanging on bolts, and extended belay sessions with a hang-dogging partner are all much less comfortable activities, however—mostly due to the fact that the leg loops in the Realization pants provide less support than a regular harness, and can dig into the back of your legs more painfully. This is likely due to the fact that the Realization Pants lack a traditional belay loop, and therefore, the forces between the leg loops and waist belt are not as evenly spread.
The other major complaint I have with the lack of a traditional belay loop is that it makes hangdogging and working a project much harder. Without a belay loop, there is no place to “go in direct” by tethering yourself to a quickdraw/bolt with another quickdraw (aka my “dogging draw”). This makes working a route tough. I experimented by clipping my dogging draw to both harness tie in points, which doesn’t work at all. I also tried using the inner loop of my tie-in knot as my point to clip-in direct, but that was also problematic. In short, if you plan on working/projecting a sport climb, this is not the rig in which to do it.
So, where would I use the Realization Pants/Shorts? I will definitely use them for gym-climbing sessions: where I’m just training and running laps in the gym, and not doing a ton of hangdogging. These Realization Pants have now become my go-to gym-climbing rig. What I like about them for gym use is that I can change into the pants in the locker room, and keep my jeans chalk-free. I can do my workout, change back into my regular clothes, and not be covered in chalk.
So while these pants aren’t quite there yet for outdoor use, I believe there is a ton of potential in this concept. Imagine big-wall Harness Pants that would be really comfortable for all-day/all-night wall climbing. Imagine soft-shell Harness Pants for ice/alpine climbing that would be much more streamlined and sit under a pack much better. Imagine harness pants coming to a ski-mountaineering retro-colored onesie! The possibilities are endless—but first, the technology needs to progress to make Harness Pants drastically more comfortable than a regular harness worn over normal pants.
Here’s a basic wish list of what I’d like to see in the next iteration of Realization Pants:
- Soft/plush micro-fleece waist that feels absolutely luxurious against your skin, wicks sweat and prevents chaffing from sitting in a harness all day.
- Belay loop.
- Better leg-loop support.
- A chalk-bag integration strap on the rear of the pants (similar to what CAMP does on their harnesses).
Until then, I’ll stick with a traditional harness outdoors. But when I go to the gym, I will be that guy rocking the Harness Pants. Laugh all you want, but you know this is a great idea. I can’t wait to see how this concept evolves and matures.