MISTRAL – THE BIRTH OF AN INNOVATIVE HARNESS
Published on 22/05/20
The harness remains one of the most important "tools" for a climber, in which he seeks safety and comfort at the same time.
We at Grivel are mainly known for ice axes and crampons, but in recent years we have also introduced harnesses, for mountaineering and climbing. These were standard solutions, to take the first steps in this new world.
Taking more confidence with this product category, and deepening the needs and possible solutions with our athletes, we felt the need to revisit the entire harness range, starting from the experience acquired in the first series, with a view to developing more technical and functional products, specific for the different activities that our customer intends to face in the mountains, with an eye also to design and "look".
We threw ourselves headlong on this project to find something unique and "special" for those who have always recognized themselves in Grivel products, and to extend ourselves to new friends who still do not use them.
We have chosen to start with a product that is very close to our core business, that is a harness designed for crossings on glaciers, for ski mountaineering, for fast and light mountaineering, for north faces and for expeditions in high altitude. Hence Mistral was born.
In the design of the harness we started from a grid of very precise objectives:
- weight less than 200 grams,
- possibility to wear it while wearing skis and crampons,
- comfort especially in the critical leg area,
- ease of use both in wearing it and in practicing different activities with different types and thickness of clothing.
We have not set ourselves the goal of creating an ultra-light harness for ski-mountaineering competitions, but rather a harness that makes versatility and comfort its strong points, always remaining very light.
In the first phase of product study we started in two parallel and interconnected directions: on one side the materials to be used on the other the functional scheme.
We conducted a study on materials to verify the space to introduce technologies and technical solutions from other sectors, also very different from ours, to the mountain world: we found that in the world of sailing fabrics and fibers of high resistance are used in relation to the weight that they could have found application in a sling. So we turned to Dimension Polyant (link), a leading company in technical sailing fabrics and with them we studied and analyzed the possible solutions. After a few tests on resistance, we chose a film with interwoven aramid filaments: superior resistance and Grivel colors, a combination that immediately found a lot of success.
We developed the project through several functional hypotheses:
standard belay loop or central single point?
In the first case, we would have followed an already tested solution, in the second we would have had to overcome the initial skepticism of the buyers, tied to a single point = entry level scheme. We tried to develop prototypes in both directions and after some tests we found a solution that would allow us to make a harness with a great fit regardless of the type of clothing used with more or less layers.
A single central point with two absolutely innovative and technically sophisticated solutions. First, the central point is not fixed on the belt but can slide freely, always positioning itself in the center without the need of having a double buckle to allow a wide adjustment. Second, there are two levels of adjustment of the length of the rise by inserting the belt strap in two slots in the webbing that rises from the leg loops. Based on the customer's physiology, on the type of clothing he wears and on the activity, he will carry out: long rise (passing the belt in the upper holes) if comfort is preferred in walking, short rise (passing the belt in the lower holes) if you use the harness for climbing or rappelling by charging most of the weight on the leg loops and not on the waist. Even the leg loops can be adjusted very simply with a toggle in two positions, an operation that can also be done with gloves, but above all the legloops come from the inside out ensuring a much higher comfort compared to similar light slings with a "classic" belay loop (think of the unfortunate fall into a crevasse!)
Mistral is designed to be worn over layers of clothing so no padding has been provided, 3 sizes called 1/2/3 and not S / M / L have been identified so as not to confuse users as there is no perfect match and a size 1 can also be suitable for those who normally use an M given the wide possibility of adjustment especially at the waist.
Mistral gives you the opportunity to take off your trousers while remaining tied to the belayed rope or on the glacier, which is important for safety and comfortable even for the personal needs of both sexes.
The binding point is in the upper part of the central ring with a single step, simple and intuitive, while we have excluded the solutions with two extremely dangerous side-by-side rings in case you only pass the rope on one of the two.
The harness has been tested for a long time by the Grivel team of testers made up of alpine guides who have used it in different situations: from the speed ascent to the over twenty consecutive rappels off the Aiguille Noire du Peuterey. Some important details have been developed from their indications and suggestions.
At the end of two intense years of design, attempts, rough prototypes, steps forward and small failures, we arrived at a harness that seems to us truly a novelty on the market and which is aimed at both the high-level user looking for performance, and to all terrain ski mountaineers, glaciers and steep descents, both for crossings and summer climbs on glaciers and easy north faces: a harness that will be sure of interest and different fields of use.
We have introduced it at ISPO winter 2019 and we deliver it since fall 2019.
A light harness, but also super comfortable, which is enclosed inside one hand, with sophisticated materials technologies: a real Grivel product!