The best climbing harnesses may be difficult to find. When taking into consideration comfort, acceptable weight level, durability, reliability, and on and on, the beginning climber (or even the expert climber) may find their head swimming with all the details to sift through.
In order to discover the best climbing harness and the features to look out for, the buyer must decide their goal. Some climbers may only be interested in short, intense climbing adventures that take place only in a closed in gym environment. Other climbers may be going for a multi-day, hardcore climb that requires several pieces of gear.
This guide will help narrow down not only the many options that are available for the beginner or expert climber, but also aid in distinguishing the climbing goals of the user.
While on a climbing adventure, each ounce makes a large difference. While hanging from great heights in the outdoors, or only a few feet from the ground inside of a gym, your weight and that of your harness affects movement, comfort, and your safety.
The Petzel’s frame is a superb technology that effectively distributes your weight evenly. Your comfort level as stated before is increased by this distribution.
Fabric plays a large part in this rig, as its bonded fabric around the waist is placed in such a way that it does not rest on your body’s pressure points. Stitching is also not implemented on this harness, receiving you of potential chafing.
Easily adjustable, the Petzel’s buckles are aluminum forged for durability and the design makes versatility a breeze. Also the adjustment straps are ribbed so to prevent them from coming loose.
The leg loops also feature a solid portion of elastic which makes freedom of movement a core feature of this harness.
Two gear loops are affixed to the back of the harness so as not get in the way of the climber and also to assure any pressure points are avoided.
This particular rig also features separators intended for your gear.
The only downside to this lightweight wonder is that it is not as capable at accommodating two people belaying. Especially when hanging along with another person for a long period of time, the lighter, smaller harness becomes increasingly uncomfortable.
However, this slim climbing harness is perfect for colder weather climbs. The need for much warmer and thereby thicker clothing allows for added padding for the climber. Though it is not a fix all for longer climbs, it pairs very well for icy climbs.
Black Diamond Solution
Comfort stands out for the black diamond harness. A very plush, mesh lining works together with the three internal webbing bonds. This extremely strong fabric allows for weight to be evenly distributed.
The mesh is also quick drying and offers a level of breathability that only heightens how comfortable this rig is. A good amount of foam is also sewn into the leg loops to provide the best possible comfort, though not enough for it to become cumbersome, and also not nearly as much as some other climbing harness models.
Though the leg loops at times are slightly difficult to enter, the stretch factor in the loops more than makes up for this flaw.
A carrying bag also comes along with this climbing harness and provides storage and protection for items you choose to bring on your adventure.
Black Diamond climbing rigs are typically meant to be used for gym climbing and sport outings due to its inability to hold more than a couple of items.
Edelrid Jay III Climbing Harness
The Edlerid’s versatility makes it stand out above many other types of climbing harnesses. A key feature in this rig is its adjustable padding located at the hips. These can be moved to the hip area of the climbers choice, accommodating for a variety of climber builds.
Included in the makeup of this harness is an abrasion protector that uses a multi fabric composite, polyester and dyneema, which creates a much longer lifespan for the Edlerid.
The gear storage options are also a plus, the rig featuring four strong loops for attaching the climber’s preferred items. A chalk bag and two options for attaching ice screw clips is also thankfully available.
Another great aspect of this climbing harness is its ability to grow with the user. Its adjustability is so exceptional that it can serve a very young climber in age and build while also being able to do the same for a much older and larger person.
Its waistband is also efficient in that it “floats” on the outside of the harness, creating even more adjustment options.
Although this particular rig only has one buckle to manipulate, many climbers find this lesser complexity a bonus, not a flaw.
A very interesting and safety feature is the ability to house inside the climbing harness a RFID chip. This chip allows for location tracking of the harness and in turn, its climber. Safety is paramount when climbing, especially when solo climbing, so being able to give off your location at all times is a huge boon to the safety conscious climber.
The only flaw that can be found in this particular rig is that it’s elastic bands that actually increase mobility, are slightly unsightly. Some of the best climbing harnesses have colorful elastic bands, but the coloring on the Edelrid is quite bland.
Mammut Ophir 3 Slide
Mammut is a staple in the outdoor world and it delivers no less for its Ophir 3 Slide climbing harness.
The long lasting and solid design speaks to its quality, and the extremely comfortable waist and leg foam padding rounds out the harness’s top notch brand.
The fabric that binds the harness together is made of very breathable material, which will save the climber from overheating during long runs at the gym or on the cliff face.
A haul loop is attached to this rig which some other rigs do not offer. The option to hold a second rope is paramount when going for a long climb, especially when the territory or length of the climb can’t be clearly estimated. In addition, this haul loop is sewn in which creates a much stronger effect as opposed to being clipped in. These are called low strength haul loops and are usually only meant for chalk bags and similar items, not heavy extra rope.
Slide bloc buckles, this harnessing featuring three, make easy adjustment and safety an attractive factor for this particular climbing harness.
Padding for this system is thicker than most, and can be a hinderance for longer climbs. However, when belaying with another person, the extra padding may be needed and even appreciated.
A powerhouse of climbing harnesses, the Petzl Adjama comes in at a whopping 17oz, much larger than most rigs. The weight of this harness gives it a much higher shelf life, along with a sturdiness that will rival most other harnesses.
It is usually intended for hardcore, multi-pitch climbing excursions when the climber needs several rope lengths for their adventure. Several hours and days can be spent in this harness because of its size and resulting comfort.
A fifth gear loop, four gear loops or less being the norm, is attached to this climbing harness. This makes its use extremely versatile for a quick trip to the gym only carrying an extra rope or carabiner, or a multiple day trek for which extra shoes, extra ropes, and other items may be needed.
Its leg holes and waist band are larger than most, increasing its comfort level and also catering to larger climbers that may find it harder to find rigs that fit their body type well.
Two of the equipment loops are flexible and can brought closer to the front if necessary. However, one of the loops that is typically positioned in the back center is sometimes located off center. Also, the overall size of each loop may be found to be smaller than some, which may cause some problems when bringing along thicker rope or bulkier items. But the amount of loops and flexibility of them more than make up for this.
Each climber needs to be on the lookout for the best features to make their journey the most enjoyable. Having a set number of key facets that you feel are a necessity when shopping for the best climbing harness is essential. Tailoring your needs for your climb will ultimately produce more satisfying climbs. Here are a few things to consider when searching for your climbing harness.
Comfort is the most obvious of features to look out for when purchasing climbing harnesses. Whether you are belaying down gym walls, working your way up a cliff face, or perilously making your way on the side of an icy mountain, an uncomfortable harness will only take away from your adventure. Though time is the best factor to establish how comfortable a harness actually is, the considerations below will still help you make the best decision for the best climbing harness.
Look for harnesses that are easily adjustable to fit your body type. Lighter rigs are usually better for a similar build and heavier ones are best suited for the opposite.
Make sure the foam padding that is usually sown into the leg holes and straps is thin or thick enough for your frame as well.
A lot can be said for the parts that make a harness whole. Depending on the company, type of rig, and use, the components that bind your system together can make a big difference. Again, continuous use is usually the best indicator for figuring out what material combinations work best for you, but planning for specific features to look for is never a bad idea.
The makeup of the climbing harness is very important for a few different reasons. If you are looking for longevity in your harness, go for the rig that uses aluminum instead of plastic to hold it together. Also, blends of materials are usually stronger than a single type. Lastly, the liberal use of mesh in the best climbing harnesses adds breathability along with strength.
This feature is important when considering which climbing harness is best.
The fewer gear loops, the smaller number of items you can hold; extra shoes, rope, carabeners, etc. However these rigs may be much lighter. If you opt for a larger number of loops, your carrying capacity is increased, but be sure you compensate for the extra weight by still keeping your gear lightweight and only bring necessities.
The size of the loops is also a determinate when thinking about what kind of gear you will be carrying. Make sure to do a thorough check of the sizes of the actual loops to be sure they can handle the gear your are carrying.
Can you use a climbing harness with no experience?
Yes, you can use a climbing harness with no experience. The best way to try different harnesses out is to go to your local climbing gym and have the attendants walk you through the process. They will give advice that may be difficult to come by without direct assistance.
Do I need special clothing to use a climbing harness?
No, however depending on the weight of the harness and the fit, you may want less or extra padding provided by your clothes.
Does my child need a climbing harness?
Yes. Especially if your child is just beginning their climbing journey, it is best for them to get started with a harness to gain experience.
Does my climbing harness come with a helmet?
Maybe. It depends on what gym you attend. Some require the safety precaution along with your climbing harness, but others do not have this requirement.
What is the weight limit for climbing harnesses?
It depends. Smaller, lighter harnesses will work best for people with smaller builds who may find the bulkier rigs more cumbersome and uncomfortable. Larger climbers may find lighter climbing harnesses insufficient for their weight.