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Gear

Field Tested: Blue Ice Choucas Pro Harness

Basics

The Blue Ice Choucas Pro is a tiny, lightweight harness (140-gram/4.9-ounce unisex M) with four gear loops as well as four ice-clipper slots, belay loop, haul loop, drop seat, and crampon-friendly leg loops. For the latter, its buckles fully open (making your leg loop a flat panel of material) so you can don your harness without removing crampons or skis.


Pros

The Choucas Pro is light weight and hardly noticeable on your legs; packs down to the size of an orange // Reinforced tie-in points add durability // Fully rated belay loop makes belaying and rappelling much easier than other, similar harnesses without belay loops. // Breathable waist and leg loops prevent excessive sweating when moving fast // Stiff, generously sized gear loops are easy to use and can carry a double rack of cams + ice screws

Cons

Lack of leg and waist padding makes hanging belays and projecting steep routes uncomfortable // Durability is on par with ultralight compatriots, but less than what you’d find with a lightweight sport harness // Opening and closing the leg loops requires attention and precision to do well; best done with warm hands


Our Thoughts

The Choucas Pro, though a featherweight harness, is surprisingly supportive and has all the features you’ll need for a big day in the mountains. One huge selling point was the real gear loops—not like the dental floss found on other ultralight harnesses. The harness packs down to peanuts and is breathable while moving fast on route, and its light weight encouraged me to pack it for long days of scrambling in the alpine. While no single harness will become your go-to for trad, hard sport, and alpine speed missions, the Choucas Pro does each task quite well.


Size Reviewed

Medium

Weight

140 grams; 4.9 ounces

Price

$100

Brand

Blue Ice


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What do gnarly ski descents, high-end sport climbing, and long alpine ridges have in common? They’re all best done in feather-light, lingerie-esque climbing harnesses, the Blue Ice Choucas Pro being a great option among those.

At first glance, the Choucas Pro looks like an ultra-minimalist harness with flimsy features and no trace of support if, god forbid, you were to actually weight the thing in a fall. But upon closer inspection, this rig is legit. It’s packed with all the features I found myself wanting for a big day in the mountains or at the crag—except for a modicum of padding—while lobbing off my after-work project.

The Choucas Pro is most at home on gear-intensive, moderate alpine objectives where cams must be brandished in a hurry and weight must be kept to a minimum. Its 140 grams total weight is on par (or better) than other competitively priced harnesses, and encouraged me to pack it for soloing excursions as a backup—where I’d probably be fine without it. 

“Probably fine without it.” Those are some famous last words. 

Two weeks ago, I packed my running vest with Gatorade, snacks, and a wind layer for a fun fifth-class ridge, the West Ridge (5.3) of Mount Tupper, near my home in Rogers Pass, British Columbia. The morning’s forecast looked decent: heavy smoke (what else is new?) and no precipitation, with steady rain coming in that evening. I toyed with the Choucas Pro in my hands, debating if I really needed to bring it, and at the last moment stuffed it and my tiny tagline (I use the Petzl PUR’LINE) into the vest.

The author mid way up the crux corner. Along with a tag line, the Choucas Pro gave an invaluable safety net while alone in the mountains. Photo: Anthony Walsh

I enjoyed cool, windy conditions that morning and made quick progress alone. The Choucas Pro went unnoticed on my hips as I jogged along flat sections, scrambled up short vertical steps, and smeared the lichen-caked quartzite that Rogers Pass is known for. The rock can be a slippery nightmare in the rain, but I planned to be down well before that! 

A few hundred feet from the summit, as I sat below the crux pitch, it began to lightly rain. Without much deliberation, I stood up and began jamming the off-vertical corner crack. I topped out after 50 feet in line with a rappel station. Glad I’m not downclimbing that! I thought. I continued up in a mounting storm, climbing several more fifth-class steps, each time finding a rappel station or slung block. By the time I summitted, visibility hovered around 20 feet, the thousands of feet of exposure below were shrouded in cloud (though no less lethal for it), and I was grateful to have a lightweight rappelling set-up (harness plus tagline) with which to retrace my steps.

If there was a bolt, horn, or rock stack, I rappelled off it, about six in total, to get off the steepest, lichen-slicked parts of the ridge. The Choucas Pro’s leg loops were comfortable for all but the steeper crux-pitch descent, and I’m sure the more leg layers you wear the more comfortable it would become.

A few days later, once I regained feeling in my numb fingers, I went back to my local crag with the Choucas Pro. It looked broken-in by now, with chimney scrapes obscuring the Blue Ice logo and water stains all along the leg loops. Fond memories clouded my judgement, and I began to wonder, Is this a workhorse harness after all? 

Then I hopped back on my project: It most definitely is not. The lack of padding, specifically on the leg loops, cut into my thighs while hanging and urged me to not stick around in it for long. When I was sending, however, or climbing a lot of easy-for-me pitches, the harness was hardly perceptible and encouraged a full range of unencumbered motion. The Choucas Pro will never become my go-to sport harness, but for a day of redpoint attempts, onsight burns, or a blitz in the mountains, it has certainly earned its place.

Read More: Blue Ice Choucas Light Harness Review

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