10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Climbing Harness

climbing harness
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Why should you choose a proper and safe climbing harness becomes pretty clear when you are on an ice face or rock. It is the type of climbing that determines which harness is required.

Similar to buying a new computer or car, if you are not aware of the requirements of a harness, the feeling of remorse is bound to come. So, initially, you need a bit of understanding to choose the right piece of harness.

The Anatomy Of A Climbing Harness

It is assumed that when you’re reading this article that means the concept of climbing is new to you. Therefore, first, you need to know about the parts of a harness.


It is also called swami belt. It is a lightweight comfortable belt worn around the waist. It can be adjusted with one or two buckles.


These are a couple of metal pieces that allow manual double-back or automatic double-back.

Leg Loops

These are padded loops that can be adjusted to change clothes while hanging.

Gear Loops

These are used to carry various equipment/gear. Most climbing harnesses have 4 gear loops but some specialized versions come with additional loops to carry even more gear.

Haul Loop

It is located at the back of the harness. It is made of stitched webbing so that a second rope or haul line can be attached.

Belay Loop

This is the strongest point of a harness and thus, load tested. These loops are made of nylon webbing and are best for hanging belays.

Tie-in Points

These are a couple of loops tied to the belay loop. These points come next to belay loops in terms of strength. The purpose of these points is to distribute the wear and add redundancy to the system.

Now, let’s come to the buying part and things to keep in mind before making the final decision

Test It If You Can

Some stores offer a hanging rope where you can clip in and hang the harness which you’re about to buy. Take notice of the areas that are pinching or pressing in the wrong way. Also, watch out for any hot spots or pressure points. It is the harness where you’re going to spend most of the time, so, make sure that it is super comfortable right from the start.

Harness Standards

Like most climbing gears, harnesses are engineered for safety. The forces required to break far exceed the force required to harm the internal body. Every harness is submitted for stringent testing to meet the standards of the European Committee for Standardization (EN 1277) or Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA 105).

It is important that you choose a harness that meets the standards. Remember, there are different types of harness available and the categorization is based on the usage and shape.  

Differentiating Between Men’s & Women’s Climbing Harness

When it comes to load-bearing capacity, there is basically no major difference between men’s and women’s harnesses. Both types undergo the same safety test with similar force rates. The difference can be noticed when it comes to fit.

Women’s harnesses come with a bit higher waistbelt and larger leg loops. However, there isn’t any rule that men cannot opt for such harnesses. The same goes for women. It depends on the body structure and the sense of comfortability.

Types Of Harness Available

Trad Harness

Traditional harnesses come with a minimum of 4 gear loops, but some even have more. They feature adjustable leg loops and rear haul loops.

Sport Harness

Sport harnesses are always and bound to be lightweight. A gym and sport climbing harness are designed for sport climbing. Automatically, these types of gym climbing harnesses feature fewer gear loops and are made of super light and breathable mesh foams. They come with fixed leg loops and have two climbing gear loops.

All-Round Harness

These are designed for more experienced climbers. These are suitable for outdoor as well as indoor pursuits. These are also made from breathable foams but are heavier than sport harnesses. They have 4 gear loops, fully adjustable leg loops & waistbelt.

Alpine Harness

Alpine harnesses are known as mountaineering harnesses. These rock climbing harnesses are perfect for alpine climbing. They are lighter, but still, they are designed to carry a number of gears. They can be worn even on full mountaineering clothing. They come with a clip buckle on the leg loops and a drop seat buckle to put over ski boots, crampons etc.


Harnesses generally last for at least 10 years from the date of manufacture. This period excludes wear and tear. Usage and care of your harness will determine the timespan provided by your harness.

Check The Material Of Your Harness

The use of nylon has always been appreciated in the world of climbing. Traditional waistbelts were made of nylon and today, modern ones too, come with nylon materials along with foam and polyester.

New-age harnesses may use additional materials for added comfort and gear storage, but nylon is the basic and core material for any harness. Nylon 6 type is used to ensure the strongest fabrics and it is the same material used for dynamic climbing ropes.

Find An Authorized Dealer

If you are willing to buy a harness online, consider landing on a site that is well-known and authorized. Well, obviously, you will not be able to try it before the purchase. So, it’s good to check their return policy. On the contrary, you will be able to find an array of products. You can virtually go through a wide list and make the ultimate choice based on the requirements.

Never Do This

If you really value your life, never purchase second-hand or auctioned harnesses. It is the climbing harness that forms the link between life and death. It is always recommended to buy a branded harness or at least those which meet the safety standards. It’s not a good idea to save money and put your life at risk.

Putting It Altogether

To find the best harness for your recently proposed adventure trips, make yourself familiarized with the parts of a harness and what are the different types available. Narrowing down your requirement will certainly help you find the best and most appropriate harness.

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