Whether you’re multi-pitching or just banging out routes all day, the Petzl Aquila boasts Cadillac comfort without being clunky or cumbersome. Though thicker and heavier than the Hirundos, the Aquila won me over for its durability and comfort.
Petzl’s new Fuse Frame technology embeds webbing into the entire piece of foam, optimizing the distribution of your body weight. Having used both Black Diamond or Arc’teryx harnesses recently, I think that the Alquila does a much better job of holding its shape. I never experienced problems with the leg loops or waist belt folding over itself, a problem that contributes to more rapid wear in other harnesses.
The front two gear loops are rigid, which I found made it easy to rack quickdraws and pro. The rear two loops, however, are a bit floppy and hard to clip. This design feature supposedly makes it more comfortable to wear your harness while also wearing a backpack. However, I never found this feature useful and would’ve preferred stiffer, slightly protruding gear loops in the back, too.
Other useless (to me) features include slots for ice-screw clippers, and a full strength haul loop in the rear. But I hate ice and aid climbing. …
One major highlight is that the belay loop and tie-in points are made from Dyneema, a smooth and strong material that seemed to reduce friction against the rope and will possibly help prolong the harness’ life.
If you’ve used Petzl harnesses in the past, you’ll want to know that the sizing appears to me to be a little different. The Aquila fits smaller than previous Petzl harnesses (though perhaps I’m just getting fatter).
The Aquila has adjustable leg loops, which can come in handy on multi-pitch routes and in the mountains. Although I primarily sport climbed in the Aquila, I found the buckles on the leg loops to loosen up on me quite easily, which was annoying. I ended up tying knots in the webbing to keep the leg loops at one length. If you’re just planning on sport climbing or gym climbing, I’d recommend checking out the Hirundos before the Aquila.
But if you’re a mixed medium master looking for one harness that can go sport climbing occasionally, and put in many more days in the mountains and on long multi-pitch routes, the Aquila is a solid and comfortable performer.