What makes a product “tactical”? Usually that tends to mean rugged, and camouflaged. We’ve always been skeptical of outdoor companies that market a tactical version of their product because that usually means that it is overbuilt, overpriced, and comes in a subdued color. Does a climbing harness need to be tactical? Hopefully they’re already durable enough to be safe and it’s silly to think you need to be camouflaged while climbing or rappelling. With that said, the DMM Tactical Renegade was released into a field of other multi-purpose tactical harnesses such as the Arc’teryx AR-395a, Misty Mountain Cadillac and the Petzl Aspic. Is the Renegade truly a tactical harness?
To us what makes a harness tactical is that it is simple, durable and multi-use. Luckily, all of these characteristics can also describe the DMM Renegade.
What makes it so simple? Firstly, it is easy to put on and take off. It uses a single waist strap buckle versus the duel waist buckle design that most of the other tactical harnesses that were listed use. This means that there are less things to adjust when putting it on and less components to get stuck when ice and dirt and sand get to it. You do lose the ability to adjust exactly where the gear loops are on your waist if you are on the extremes of your selected size but for a “tactical” product, the simplicity is more important.
The buckles hold very well and do not slip, however the shape of the buckles allow for easy loosening, un-routing, and rerouting of the straps. This allows the user to undo the belt and leg loops and put the harness on without having to step through the loops which is useful if you are already wearing skis or crampons.
Durability is an obvious feature that all climbing harnesses have, but in this context we are referring to the gear loops, padding, and strap retention. The gear loops are strong and easy to reach, the padding is durable and scratch resistant, and the strap retention is a sturdy nylon that can’t be easily torn or overstretched.
The final positive aspect of this harness is that it is multi-use. At 415 grams it is on par for the weight of a typical all around harness. This makes it light enough to use for alpine or sport climbing, but it still has enough padding and gear loops to be useful and comfortable on multi-pitch trad climbs or rope rescue situations. With 7 gear loops, it allows users to store more gear on their hips rather than needing a gear sling on top of any gear they are already wearing on their torso. It’s addition of 4 slots for ice screw holders allow it to be useful in the winter as well.
Of course you’d never want to be attached to a rope in any way and need to be camouflaged but that is not the only time you’d be wearing a harness. Don’t think of the camouflage pattern for all the time you spend on a rope, think of it for all the time you spend in your harness but not on a rope. You might be wearing a harness when moving to or away from an area where you’d be attached from a rope. You might not be sure where you need a rope but having your harness on makes the decision to use a rope easier.
The availability seems limited because DMM is based in Wales and does not retail directly to the United States. The civilian version of the DMM Renegade which is red can be found for around $90. The military version which is available in black, and multicam original, arid, and alpine can be found on third party websites for over $200.
When DMM was contacted, they told us that they can be ordered through Helix Tactical via firstname.lastname@example.org for $110 delivered with duty paid. If that is true, that would make it the least expensive tactical harness that we mentioned.
Another major downside to this harness is all of the “Hey, where’s your harness?!” jokes.
The Renegade is an all around great harness. It is comfortable, durable, and multi-use. As for its usefulness as a tactical harness, there are only small groups of people that would need or even want a camouflage harness. However, for those small groups of people, the DMM Renegade could fill every role you would need it to fill. I would definitely give this harness the label of “tactical” and the benefits far outweigh all of the invisible harness jokes.