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Climbing Harness


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Harnesses

Most climbers will want a sport harness. This provides the basics and is reasonably comfortable. Advanced harnesses are available if you need to carry additional gear (big wall harness) or if you need an ultralight setup (alpine harness). You should consider:
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Parts of a Climbing Harness
Double Back Buckle(s) - Most harnesses have one double back buckle on the waist belt. This permits you to secure the harness so it will not open. Correct placement of the webbing through the double back buckle is critical. A few harnesses have two double back buckles allowing you to center the harness with ease.

Waist Belt - This is the main piece of webbing and padding that is secured around your waist. Waist belts come in various shapes, some trading weight for comfort.

Waist Belt Tie-in Loop - A rigid webbing loop found on the front of the waist belt. This is one point used to attach your climbing rope to your harness (leg loop cross piece is the other).

Leg Loop Cross Piece - A cross piece of webbing found on your harness between the two leg loops. This is one of two points used to attach your climbing rope to your harness (waist belt tie-in loop is the other).

Belay Loop - An oval shaped piece of webbing that is attached to the 'waist belt tie-in loop' and the 'leg loop cross piece'. The carabiner used during belaying is attached to this loop.

Gear Loop - A series of rigid loops attached to the waist belt. These are used to attach your gear to your harness. Harnesses come with different numbers of gear loops. Two or more gear loops is acceptable for sport. Four or more are better for trad climbing.

Haul Loop - A haul loop is a loop of webbing placed on the back side of the waist belt. Some harnesses have a full strength haul loop and some have a plastic (low strength) haul loop. Full strength haul loops are primarily used for multipitch climbing when trailing a second line (especially when aid climbing). Low strength haul loops are great for clipping in a chalk bag or storing your belay device (while climbing).

Alpine Harness
Alpine Harnesses are designed to be lightweight and low profile. They are also designed to accommodate a wide range of waist and leg sizes. This is important because during alpine climbing you are constantly changing the number of clothing layers that you are wearing (therefore changing your body size).

Alpine harnesses are also an excellent option if you are looking to purchase a second harness for friends that you may bring climbing. They are cheap and are basically 'one size fits all'.

You can expect to pay between 25 USD and 45 USD for an alpine harness.

Sport Harness
Sport harnesses are designed to allow free movement. They have enough padding to make belaying and light 'hang dogging' (hanging on the rope) acceptable. Sport harnesses also are commonly used for short trad routes (although you want to then make sure you have at least four gear loops). Sport harnesses are available with adjustable double back buckles on the leg loops or elastic that holds the leg loops in place. This is a matter of personal preference and does not compromise safety (as long as the harness fits well).

You can expect to pay between 50 USD and 120 USD for a sport harness.

Big Wall Harness
Big wall harnesses are designed for comfort and functionality. They have extensive padding on both the waist belt and leg loops. Big wall harnesses are the heaviest type of climbing harnesses. They have 4+ gear loops, full strength haul loops and are designed to survive through the worst conditions.

You can expect to pay between 90 USD and 200 USD for a big wall harness.

Chest Harness
Chest harnesses are worn in conjunction with a seat harness. Chest harnesses are used by solo climbers, vertical cavers, mountaineers and occasionally aid climbers. The purpose of a chest harness when climbing is to keep the climber upright after a fall.

In an ascension system like those used for caving, they are used to attach to your chest plate/pulley system, in the case of a rope runner system or to the top of a croll to keep it from flopping over when rope is pulled through it (like in a frog system).

Chest harness are often improvised using webbing or a sewn runner.

Caving Harness
A caving harness is made to fit closely to the user's body so that it's easier to squeeze through pinches in a cave. The tie in position usually requires a half moon carabiner, which better facilitates attachment to an ascension system than a harness with a belay loop does.

Body Harness
A body harness includes both a chest harness and a seat harness in one. Body harnesses are predominantly used for young children.
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