The Petzl Calidris is among the most streamlined big wall models in our selection. It is just about tied with the Black Diamond Big Gun for lightest big wall harness. We found it not as comfortable as the Big Gun but much more breatheable and suitable for free climbing. Get the Big Gun if you plan to do a bunch of walls but the Calidris if you also want to use this harness as a comfy trad cragging harness.
Compared to the Metolius Safe Tech Waldo, it is not nearly as comfortable but much lighter. We prefer the Waldo because of its comfort, better and stronger gear loops, and the fact it comes with two belay loops. If you are only going to do a few walls, we would probably recommend the Petzl Corax, which is only $65 and much more versatile. The Corax is not as comfy but it is reasonably comfortable overall.
We give the Calidris our big wall harness Best Buy award because it is tied for least expensive harness with the Black Diamond Big Gun. However, unlike the Big Gun it also makes a great free climbing and all-around trad climbing harness. You are likely to get a lot of use out of it when not on a big wall.
Petzl Calidris Review
Cons: Sizing can be tricky, lots of buckles, no second belay loop.
Gear Loops: 4
Belay loops: 1
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This is the most breathable big wall harness we tested. A wide, perforated foam and mesh waist belt helps maximize ventilation. It is the only wall harness to have self-locking buckles, which means it is easy and fast to adjust. It was also one of the few harnesses with two buckles on the waist, which makes it easy to center.
This is on the lighter side of big wall harnesses but is by no means light. It is pretty streamlined, which makes it great for free climbing on walls and also suitable to general rock climbing.
It has an easy way to tuck away extra webbing on the waist. The front gear loops are good and the rear gear loops are easy to clip and cause all the gear to clump forward. This makes the gear easier to grab but also means it bunches up.
Because it has two waist buckles, only two sizes (Size 1 and 2) cover size small through extra large. Many people in the 150-170 pound range seem to be right at the border of these two sizes (including the tester, Chris McNamara) so it can be tricky to pick which size to buy. I ended up going with the smaller one but found the leg loop padding didn't wrap around very well and it was not possible to tuck in the extra webbing on the legs.
The two main waist buckles make it easy to center the waist. But it also means there are a lot of buckles on this harness and a lot of extra webbing to manage. I would prefer it if this harness came with just one waist buckle and more sizes. It would make it a little lighter, which would make it by far the lightest big wall harness. More sizes would also address the sizing issue I described above.
It only has one belay loop which I used to prefer but now I like the big wall harnesses with two belay loops. While it is easy to drop the leg loop riser to go to the bathroom, it is not possible to remove the leg loops when you want to go to bed. I don't care about this because I just take my harness off completely when I sleep and tie in directly to a lead rope. With a six-foot long piece of 2-inch webbing, you could always make a 70s-era swami to sleep in and then remove the harness.
Based on how long Petzl harnesses last, we think this is a great long-term value. However, the top scoring Metolius Safe Tech Waldo is the same price. The Calidris is also the most widely carried big wall harness so you can often find it on sale.
— Chris McNamara