I need a new harness. What should I get?

When you can finally cough up enough cash to replace your old, worn-to-shreds harness, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices amidst the dozens of options on the market.

In my experience, people tend to go with brands that they’re familiar with … Black Diamond’s Momentum, Petzl’s Adjama, or Arc’teryx’s sleek AR-395. Rarely, however, does the lesser known, yet top tier of harness manufacturers make the list.

So, it’s time for a change. Introducing Misty Mountain and their classic harness: the Cadillac.

Kathy Karlo

Kathy Karlo on the Great Red Roof (5.13b), Red Rocks, Nevada. Photo: Irene Yee, courtesy of Misty Mountain

For decades, Misty Mountain has designed and developed some of the most innovative and functional climbing gear in the world; all the while being made in the US, in the high country of western North Carolina.

Without a doubt, one of their most notable creations is their revolutionary Cadillac Harness. For years, I eyed this harness with hesitation thinking it wouldn’t be any good because of it coming from a lesser known manufacturer.

Hooweeee did I regret waiting after I finally sacked up and got it! Out of all the climbing harnesses on the market, this one is hands down one of the best; featuring everything someone like me—primarily a trad climber—could want.

So, this Cadillac thing. What’s the deal?

The Cadillac harness was originally designed for traditional climbing at Looking Glass, NC. And, it’s clear; the development team definitely knew their stuff.

Featuring a total of six gear loops, this guy has space for everything you could possibly bring for multi-pitch climbing (two full racks, anchor gear, a prusik, belay device, draws, approach shoes, water bottle, etc.) and still boasts extra space so things don’t get cluttered. It also serves well for simple cragging; its loops allow for large Indian Creek racks or space for enough gear to fire up those heady climbs.

Check out the 4.3” wide waistbelt and 2.9” wide leg loops for a level of comfort you didn’t think possible while hanging out at the belay for an hour, regretting your choice of teaming up with that slow partner. You can wear this guy all day without being left with sore hips and an aching back. Rest easy and be refreshed for that early start in the morning!

Moreover, the Cadillac is offered in two versions: the Quick Adjust, and the Classic. While the Quick Adjust features the modern-day buckles for easy cinching of leg and waist loops, I prefer the Classic harness with double-back required buckles … but you can call me old-fashioned.

Finally, let’s not forget about the bomber full-strength haul loop in the back. For me, I personally need something to clip my chalk bag to and belts totally aren’t my thing. However, a full-strength haul loop is an extremely underrated attribute not many understand the importance of. For climbs needing two ropes for descending, a full-strength haul loop could mean the difference between getting down safely, or your second rope breaking free of your harness and needing a rescue.

Alright, show me the deets.

  • Weight: 536 grams
  • # Gear loops: 6
  • Adjustable leg loops: Yes
  • Full-strength haul loop: Yes
  • Ice clipper slots: Yes
  • Sizes available: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Quick adjust and classic versions available
  • Available in both men’s and women’s

With all these elements, seems like a decision made, eh?

Yes … but not necessarily. The Cadillac harness is designed for very specific uses: traditional climbing, multi-pitch climbing, and aid climbing.

To disciplines like sport, alpine, and gym climbing, however, the Cadillac lends itself less desirable. There are many harnesses that boast less weight than the Cadillac’s 536g and are therefore more ideal when weight is an issue. And who needs six gear loops and crazy comfort when you’re sport climbing with twelve draws? If you fall into this boat, check out this guide to other top harnesses.

Also, despite the durability and longevity of the Cadillac, for those pinching their pennies, it comes at a cost of around $125-135 (depending on model).

Regardless, to those who find themselves yearning for a great multi-functional harness for long, big, trad climbs that lasts forever and you won’t regret … I’d say look no further. The Cadillac is the last harness you’ll ever need.

misty mountain cadillac harness

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