Gear Review: Black Diamond Couloir Harness
Weight: 230 g
Summary: The Black Diamond Couloir harness is the ideal alpine/ski mountaineering harness. It’s ultralight, packable, strong, comfortable, and designed to slip on when you’re wearing ski boots and crampons. That’s what you need in the mountains.
When ski mountaineers are gearing up for big ascents, cool descents, and epic adventures they place their lives in the hands of their gear. One piece of gear that every ski mountaineer should invest in is the Black Diamond Couloir Harness.
The Black Diamond Couloir Harness is an ultralight, minimalist alpine harness designed for ski mountaineering, short rappels, glacier travel, alpine climbing, high altitude mountaineering, long ascents, lift evacs, and emergency rescues.
The Black Diamond Couloir Harness is kind of in a league of its own. While many companies produce lightweight harnesses, there are none that quite compete, except maybe the Black Diamond Alpine Bod (no belay loop, 4 gear loops, 395 g) or the Blue Ice Choucas. Both worth a look, but I still opt for the Couloir’s simplistic design, packability, and weight. Plus, Black Diamond has a solid reputation, great warranty program, and has a well designed product.
Designed as an upgrade to the BD Alpine Bod Harness, the Couloir has established itself as an industry leader for ski mountaineering. Myself and most of my ski partners use it on our adventures. From the Apocalypse Couloir to Broken Thumb Couloir to the Bat Ears to Mount Baker – the couloir seems to be the standard.
Due to thin, strong, soft, flat webbing the Couloir harness packs down to nothing. Stuffed into its own stuff sack, BD describes it as packable to “the size of a soup can.” It easily fits in any pocket on my Patagonia Triolet Jacket.
It’s also incredibly lightweight. The harness only weighs 230 g or 8.11 ounces. It’s easy to take on and off. It can easily and comfortably fit over a jacket and other layers or under a loaded backpack. It’s comfortable for ski mountaineering missions, but I wouldn’t want to hang in the Couloir for an extended period.
Quick release, easy to attach leg loops makes it easy to slip on over ski boots and crampons. Simple plastic buckles can be attached with or without gloves. The Couloir features its own belay loop and haul loop (nice for belayed skiing) – both rated to 15kN. Other features include 2 gear loops and 4 ice clipper slots. Plus, the harness is quick drying – a must for an alpine harness.
The Black Diamond Couloir Harness slips on just like a diaper. The waist strap goes through the belay loop before it is buckled and the leg loops click together via the easy to use plastic clips. As long as you remember to thread the waist through the belay loop this harness is a breeze to put on – saving you time when in the mountains.
The buckle on the Couloir harness could use a redesign. Currently it is a traditional, offset, double back buckle. If you learned to climb years ago, you know the type – see red and your dead. The buckle is very hard to thread with or without gloves on. It’s not impossible, just harder than it needs to be. This is a problem in extreme temperatures.
Some of my ski mountaineering friends have modified the harness slightly. Some cut off the belay loop and use a locker instead to reduce weight. Others have sewn on additional gear loops to evenly distribute gear. I’ve done no modifications and I’m very pleased with the Black Diamond Couloir Harness for ski mountaineering.
I am 6’2″ and weight 190 pound. My waist is a size 36 without ski gear and layers. I wear a L/XL harness. The sizing chart is:
S/M – Waist: 28-35″, Legs: 18-24″
M/L – Waist: 32-38″, Legs: 20-26″
L/XL – Waist: 35-42″, Legs: 24-30″
XXL – Waist: 38-44″, Legs: 28-34″
The Black Diamond Couloir harness is an essential piece of ski mountaineering gear. I haven’t seen many alpine harnesses that compare. I highly recommend picking one up. It comes in a nice burnt orange color (or black) so you’ll never lose it. It’s also a great stocking stuffer.
Official Specs on the Black Diamond Couloir Harness
- Fast drying nylon-webbing construction with traditional buckle
- Quick-release leg loops for easy on/off, even while wearing skis or crampons
- Two webbing gear loops and four Ice Clipper slots
- Low-profile and flat enough to be worn comfortably under a pack or clothing
- Packs down into a stuff sack small enough to fit into jacket pocket
- 15 kN-rated belay and haul loops
Find the best price on the Black Diamond Couloir Harness: