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How To Choose A Climbing Harness

How To Choose A Climbing Harness


A climbing harness is one of the most essential bits of climbing gear. It is going to protect you from falling to the ground and also give you the base to belay your partners off of. But before you can choose your harness you need to take a step back and decide which type of climbing will you use for the most; indoor climbing, long routes, ice climbing etc. Because depending which sort of climbing you plan on doing, different elements of the harness will be more important to you.

For example;

- If you plan on staying in your harness for long periods of time then comfort it key. Indoor climbers spend a lot of time in their harness, so they will be looking for comfort.

- If ice climbing, big wall climbing or alpine routes are your thing then make sure that your harness is adjustable, as this will allow you to adjust the size depending on the number of layers you are wearing.

- Also, if you climb regularly do not go for a beginners harness. Beginners harness are generally made to be more practical and less comfortable.




Comfort will depend on the thickness of the harness, the padding, material and width of the straps. Generally, the wider the straps on a harness the more comfortable it will be. But look at what the manufactures say about the material and padding they offer too.



Most modern harnesses use auto-locking buckles, which are quick and easy to adjust. These days many harnesses have adjustable leg loops too, which are great if you are alpine climbing or ice climbing, as if gives you a good fit over your layers. However some sports climbing harnesses use fixed size leg loops to save size and weight. These are usually elastic, to create a tight fit.



Two loops are enough for indoor climbing. Many all-round harnesses come with 4 loops, but you will need carry a lot of carabiners, slings, nuts etc… you might look for more. The material can vary (flexible, rigid or semi-rigid) and their location too, so pick something that suits you and will be easy and convenient for you to access.



There are two main types of buckles to tighten your harness:
  • The automatic loop that simply needs to be adjusted
  • The adjustable strap. You have to pull back the strap a second time so that the harness is 100% secure!



This high strength material loop is what takes most of the force through he harness. It’s vertical orientation lets the karabiner more freely when belaying. Keep an eye on the loop to make sure it is not getting too worn.


Other areas to consider when buying a harness:



The weight of the harness is only really a consideration if you are wearing it often and with a lot of gear. The lighter the harness, the greater freedom of movement.


Brands are constantly adding new technologies to their harnesses, finding new and innovative ways to improve them. For example Fuseframe technology Petzl, Split Webbing in MAMMUT or Kinetic Core Black Diamond. The most experienced climbers will dwell on these constructions and their weight and comfort levels. But we recommend that you at the overall harness and make sure it meets your needs.


Besides the design, more and more brands are distinguish now between men’s and woman’s harnesses.

Harness must fit properly over the hips to worked correctly in the result of a fall. So it is very important to choose a harness that correctly fit you, to save you causing yourself an injury. When you try on the harness for the first time you need to feel comfortable in it. The straps might be snug but not uncomfortable and hinder your movement. If you want a more versatile harness then choose sone that you can adjust the thigh buckles on.

These are the main points to consider before buying your next harness. Just remember to always check your equipment before climbing. Check the straps and adjustable buckles are all correctly fastened and the right tightness. Make sure that all the sticking is in good condition and there is no other damage on the harness. It is also a good idea to do a suspension test, to make sure that the waist start is properly adjusted.

Check out our climbing section