Each harness is tailored to specific requirements – they vary in weight, adjustability, comfort and features.
There are climbing harnesses for different disciplines, such as sport climbing, alpine climbing, trad climbing, ice climbing or via Ferrata .
Structure of a climbing harness
A climbing harness consists of the following elements:
- Waist belt.
- Leg loops
- Tie-in loops
- Safety loop
- Different buckles
- Gear loops for equipment
- Elastic straps from the leg straps to the hip belt
Depending on the application, a harness can also have clipper slots (for ice climbing), a loop for a chalk bag and a haul loop (Big wall climbing).
Differences between the individual climbing harnesses?
Generally, a distinction can be made between hip belts and chest belts, although the hip belt is primarily used in sport climbing for adults. Small children are better protected with a full harness (hip belt + chest belt).
Differences depending on the area of application
Manufacturers offer climbing harnesses for different areas of application. They differ, for example, depending on weight, packing size, material, their shape or the number of gear loops.
What to look for in a sport climbing harness?
Sport climbing harness – comfortable and lightweight
You might fall into your harness several times per climbing session. Depending on the belayer, you can be caught more or less gently. A comfortable fit, freedom of movement and good padding of the belt are important.
Climbing harness recommendation – sport climbing
I recommend you the Black Diamond Solution climbing harness for sport climbing. Thanks to the speed system, it can be put on and taken off in no time. It is comfortable to wear and offers all safety aspects. The M size model has a weight of only 330 g.
A good climbing harness is:
We tested 14 climbing harnesses – take a look at the 6 Best Climbing Harnesses.
Climbing harness for multi-pitch climbing
When climb multi-pitch tours you have to carry more equipment than compared to sport climbing . You need quickdraw slings, your personal belay device, mobile safety devices such as friends and climbing nuts, etc.
For this reason, equipment loops are indispensable in a multi-pitch harness.
Climbing harness recommendation – multi-pitch climbing
For multi-pitch climbing I recommend somehting like the Petzl Adjama. It has numerous gear loops which do not interfere with a backpack. The harness is comfortable and easy to wear even on long tours.
Climbing harnesses – ice climbing, alpine tours and via ferrata
If you are planning to go ice climbing or on a glacier tour, it is best to opt for a relatively lightweight harness like Petzl Sitta – extra small pack size. Which makes sens on tours like this, because you often have a lot of other stuff and equipment to carry.
Mountaineering harness – lightweight, small packing size, simple
Here the focus is more on simplicity and comfort during putting on and taking off. Because the harness must be put on or taken off when you are already wearing mountaineering boots or crampons.
Which climbing harness should you buy as a beginner?
If you are just starting to climb, you should choose a harness with flexible adjustment options. Because it is often not yet clear whether you will stick with sport climbing, whether you enjoy multi-pitch tours or whether you use the harness for via ferrata.
Make sure that the harness is reasonably comfortable and you can move without restrictions.
There are relatively inexpensive models for beginners
Beginners don’t need a sophisticated high-tech harness, a simple yet comfortable harness is best suited.
We Tested Rock Climbing Shoes.
Take a look at the 9 Best climbing shoes.
Which is the lightest climbing harness?
Edelrid Loopo Light is probably one of the lightest climbing harnesses. The L size harness weighs just 80 grams! However, this harness is less suitable for sport climbing. Ideal for glacier tours, where every gram of weight counts.
Among the sport climbing harnesses, Petzl Sitta is probably one of the lightest harnesses, the M size harness weighs just 260 grams and combines comfort and low weight.
What is a climbing harness used for?
Depending on the tour, you attach different equipment to a climbing harness:
Climbing harness for rock climbing
- For climbing in the gym, it is enough to attach a chalk bag to the harness. Usually quickdraws are already in place.
- For outdoor sport climbing, you definitely need to carry a sufficient number of quickdraws with you.
Multi-pitch climbing harness
For alpine multi-pitch climbing more equipment is needed. Because you need – depending on the route and preference – a belay device, a descender, a few carabiners, friends, nuts, slings, cords etc.
For glacier tours, the equipment is usually supplemented with additional cords, carabiners and ice screws.
Climbing harness – Buying guide
What do you need the climbing harness for?
When making a purchase, it is important to know what you want to use the harness for. Since it makes a difference whether you want to use it just for sport climbing or whether you want to use it for alpine multi-pitch or alpine tours.
Climbing harness – fitting
The fit is the Alpha and Omega of a climbing harness.
When you put the climbing harness on, make sure that it fits comfortably.
Heavyweight climbing harness
Climbers who weigh more than 100 kg can also wear a climbing harness. The harnesses are tested in the laboratory with a standard climber weighing 80 kg, but they can withstand much heavier weights.
How much does a climbing harness cost?
Climbing harnesses are now available for around $60. Depending on the purpose, weight and sophistication, you can also spend well over 100 euros on a harness.
Tip: You should never buy a second-hand harness. It’s an investment in your safety and worth the money.
- Super save and durable
- Soft catch
- Best bang for the buck
Climbing harnesses for women
Most manufacturers are now offering specific climbing harnesses for women.
These harnesses are specially designed for the female body and take the narrower waist and bigger thigh into account.
A longer safety loop also takes the difference between leg and waist loops into account. Harnesses for women usually have an extended leg loop bar, so that the harness can sit comfortably above the hip.
Climbing harness for children
Between the ages of five and ten, children should wear a “full body harness” that includes the hips and upper body. Compared to normal harness, a full body harness is more stable and offers more protection. Children can later switch to an age-appropriate waist harness. You have to make sure that the harness fits the size and weight of the child.
Additional safety for children
In a child’s harness, the adjustment and locking systems are usually difficult for children to reach, providing safety. Most manufacturers offer one size fits all models for children.
Climbing harness for children – max. Body weight & height
The maximum body weight for a children’s climbing harness is 40 kilograms, the maximum height is about 140 cm. If these values are exceeded, a belt for adults is needed.
How does a climbing harness work?
A climbing harness is the connection between climber and rope.
The climber is tied to the climbing rope using the central loop. The leg loops provide additional security and stability.
Keeping order on the climbing harness
Organization is half the battle. This also applies to your climbing harness. For longer tours, when you have a lot of quickdraws and other equipment on your harness, things can quickly get messy.
Therefore you need to properly distribute the gear on your harness and keep things organised.
Climbing harness care, cleaning and storage
Wash your climbing harness at a maximum of 30 degrees
Climbing harnesses generally can be washed. Pack your climbing harness in a laundry bag and wash it at a low temperature.
Special detergent or no detergent
Either use a special detergent for climbing accessories or wash without detergent. Do not use normal detergent.
- Also do not use the spin cycle.
- Do not dry in direct sunlightSince the material of your climbing harness is sensitive to UV radiation.
- Storing your harness – make sure that you do so in a clean, cool, and dark place.
Durability of a climbing harness
No climbing harness lasts forever and the lifetimes given by the manufacturers can only be approximate.
As a rule of thumb, a belt will last about five or six years.
Check climbing harnesses regularly
You should thoroughly check the rope attachment points, equipment loops, leg loops and all straps before each use.
Also, check the strap for tears, abrasions, or cuts.
Pay particular attention to the “tie in loops”, since her the greatest wear occurs.
Tie in the climbing harness correctly
Regardless of whether you are just starting out or have been climbing for decades – a partner-check is mandatory before each new route.
You check whether the rope is being led through the correct loop and whether the knot is tied correctly.