Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DMM Renegade 2 harness - a review

Relaxing in the Renegade 2 at the top of the corner of Engelskdiederet, Eidetind.
 I think DMM probably asked me if I wanted to review the new version of the Renegade because I had given the original version a rather glowing review on UKC back in 2008. It became my main harness after that and did sterling weekly service for the next five years. It still looks in pretty good nick now so shall emigrate to England, and my mum and dad's attic, where it will reside with various other bit of older gear as my "UK rack", helping me cut down on how much baggage I take backwards and forwards across Northern Europe.

Simon borrowing the Renegade - fully adjustable to fit different sizes

I stand by my original opinion that the Renegade, before and now in its updated "2" version, is an excellent all-round harness. It's not the lightest, but it is supportive when you need to hang in it for a long time; it has loads of racking possibilities; it is very adjustable allowing you to put it over winter layers or lend it to a differently sized mate; and at least the original one I know was very well made because it lasted so well.

The stuff we lugged up Stetind, plenty of racks are helpful. The Renegade is the red and grey harness as the back.

Some people, for reasons I never got, hated the racks on the Renegade 1. They sloped forward a bit, something that I never really noticed but others clearly did. On the Renegade 2 DMM have done away with the sloping style. They have though kept the same seven loop-layout that I love. There are climbers who I respect who say they've never felt the need for more than four gear loops even for complex trad climbing when you carry lots of stuff, but personally I love the ability to split big racks between the seven loops and know exactly where some bit of kit is going to be. When I went to Norway in August I took with me the Renegade 2 and another very nice Edelrid harness that I was reviewing for UKC. The Edelrid is great, nicely made and super-comfy for long days, but as we racked up for our big day on Stetind I took the Renegade 2 without much thought; I just knew I would want the familiar ability to spread a big rack out over the seven gear loops and find what I wanted quickly. I'm sure I would have done fine with the Edelrid too; but for the me the Renegade works so well for big routes and big racks, it is reassuring.

Me sorting all the gear out on the summit of Stetind after 13 pitches of climbing; photo ©D. Smith
Of course a review isn't a review if you don't try and break the thing, even if just a little. One change DMM made between the 1 and 2 versions is that the tubing to stiffen the gear racks used to be pushed over the sewn on tape that makes up the racking. Now the tubing is pushed into the tubular tape before the racking is attached. This perhaps looks a bit smarter and avoid small krabs getting caught at the top of the plastic tubing on the original harness (cue much patting your bum whilst gibbering "dammit, where's my effing nut key gone!?" when it's not hanging as expected in the middle of the back loop). Nevertheless at some point on Stetind my inelegant chimneying technique, most likely, led to one of the stiffener-tubes pushing through the tubular tape that should have been enclosing it. Needing a field repair the next day and not being able to just push it back into the tape, I trimmed about 5 mms off the plastic tube to allow it to go back in, and then put some finger tape over the damaged bit. This has been fine since. I don't know if I just got really unlucky managing to snag the rack leading to this or whether it's a design weakness and DMM are going to see some returns from other people, but users should perhaps keep an eye on the racks to check it doesn't happen to them.

Where I broke the Renegade.
Nevertheless, overall, the Renegade 2 is great. Everything I liked about the original Renegade: loads of racking; the free floating padding meaning the harness is always straight; supportive and strong; is here and the "2" irons out a few kinds from the original. A total weight-weenie might want something more compact and lighter but if you do a bit of everything the Renegade is still a great choice.

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