Dirtbags With Furbags With

How To Choose A Climbing Harness: Your Guide to Picking the Perfect Climbing Harness

Climbing harness and other gear needing to go rock climbing

Whether you’re a seasoned rock climber or just getting your feet off the ground, you’ll know that a climbing harness is more than just a piece of gear. It’s your lifeline, the bridge between you and the rocky face you’re conquering. It keeps you safe as you ascend to new heights and explore the world from a vantage point few people ever see.

Choosing the correct climbing harness can seem daunting with all the options out there. Adjustable or non-adjustable? Is it padded or non-padded? Which brand should you go for? How should it fit? The questions are endless.

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to choose a climbing harness. We’ll tackle everything from understanding the basics, sizing, and fit, to types, brands, and styles. We’ll also delve into additional features like buckle fastening systems and gear loops and highlight best practices for choosing a harness that offers comfort, functionality, and safety.

So buckle up (pun intended!) and join us on this journey to find your perfect climbing companion. Let’s get started!

This post includes affiliate links but rest assured that we only recommend items we would use ourselves. And if you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission. No sponsorships, just the truth about our favorite finds.

The ABCs of How to Choose A Climbing Harness

If you’re reading this, you’re likely ready to take your love for climbing to new heights. Maybe it’s your first time buying a climbing harness, or you want to replace your old one. Either way, this guide is for you!

We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes a good climbing harness, plus some top tips to help you make the right choice.

Understanding Climbing Harnesses

A climbing harness is your lifeline when scaling those big rocks or walls. It’s the vital piece of gear that connects you to your climbing rope, ensuring you stay safe and secure during your ascents and descents.

Speaking of climbing ropes, we have an excellent guide on how to choose the right climbing rope!

Key Components of a Climbing Harness

Climbing harnesses are comprised of various parts, each serving a different purpose while climbing. Let’s review some of the critical components of a climbing harness:

  • Waistbelt (Swami Belt): This sits around your waist and is designed to offer comfort without adding too much weight. Most waistbelts come with one or two buckles for easy adjustments.
  • Leg Loops: These go around your thighs and work in tandem with the waistbelt to distribute your weight evenly when hanging or falling.
  • Buckle System: This is how you tighten or loosen the harness. Some harnesses have traditional double-back buckles, while others feature speed buckles that auto-lock for convenience.
  • Tie-in Points: These are the loops where you attach your climbing rope. There’s usually one on the waistbelt and one on each leg loop. Learn the 5 basic knots every climber should know!
  • Gear Loops: These are small loops around the waistbelt where you can clip on extra gear like quickdraws, slings, or cams.
How to choose a climbing harness. Some harness have plenty of space for gear needing to rock climb.

Choosing Your First Climbing Harness: What to Look Out For

  1. Sizing & Fit: A well-fitted harness is crucial for comfort and safety. It should fit snugly but not too tight – you should be able to slide a hand between the harness and your body.
  2. Brand & Style Variations: Different brands offer different styles and fit, so it’s worth trying on a few to see what suits you best.
  3. Additional Features: Extra padding, adjustable leg loops, and larger gear loops may add to the comfort and functionality of the harness.

Always double-check your harness before you start climbing. Make sure all buckles are secured and the tie-in points are correctly threaded. Remember, safety first!

Choosing your first climbing harness is an exciting step in your climbing journey. Keep these tips in mind, stay safe, and enjoy the climb! Remember, the adventure begins at the end of your comfort zone. So strap on that harness, and let’s reach for the peaks together!

Unraveling the Mystery: Types of Climbing Harnesses

Let’s unravel some of the mysteries behind the types of climbing harnesses. First, men’s and women’s harnesses are built based on general physiology to fit better.

Harnesses designed for women typically have smaller waist belts and larger leg loops. In contrast, men’s harnesses have longer measurements between the waist and leg loops. While these are general considerations, it’s a good idea to try on both styles of harness that you like – one may fit you better than the other!

Now, on to the different types of climbing harnesses. First up is the adjustable harness, a classic many rock climbers use!

Adjustable Harnesses

First up, we have the adjustable harnesses. Now, these are like the Swiss Army knives of the climbing world. With fully adjustable leg loops and waist belt, these harnesses offer a custom fit for every body type. They can be easily tweaked to accommodate different clothing layers – a climber’s dream come true!


  • Super customizable fit
  • Great for multi-season use (Can someone say, “year-round climbing”?)


  • Might be a bit heavier than non-adjustable ones
  • Extra straps could get in the way

Ideal for: Those who climb in various weather conditions or share their gear (though we all know sharing is not caring when it comes to your first climbing harness).

Non-Adjustable Harnesses

Next on our list are the non-adjustable harnesses. These are the “one-size-fits-most” kind of deal. They have a fixed-size waist belt and leg loops, which are generally stretchy enough to provide a comfortable fit.


  • Lighter than adjustable harnesses (Every ounce counts, right?)
  • Less fuss with no extra straps to adjust


  • Less customizable fit
  • May not accommodate heavy winter gear

Best for: Sport climbing harness enthusiasts who crave simplicity and minimalism (and maybe have a slight fear of buckles).

Full-Body Climbing Harnesses

Now, let’s talk about full-body harnesses. Unlike other harnesses that focus on the waist and legs, these wrap around your entire torso. Kids often use them, but they’re also great for adult climbers carrying heavy packs or climbing in icy conditions where flipping upside down is a real risk (Brr…gives me chills!).


  • Prevents inversion during a fall
  • Distributes weight across the whole body


  • More restrictive and less comfortable
  • Can be more complicated to put on

Perfect for: Ice climbers, alpine adventurers, and kids (or adults who still feel like kids at heart).

Chest Harnesses

Finally, we’ve got chest harnesses. These are typically used with a waist belt harness to prevent inversion during a fall. They’re less common but can be a literal lifesaver in certain climbing situations.


  • Adds stability in a fall
  • Can be used to carry extra gear


  • Not as comfortable as other options
  • Usually requires a separate waist belt harness

Best for: Big wall climbers and mountaineers who need extra stability and gear storage.

Choosing the proper harness comes down to your specific climbing needs. Consider the climbing you’ll be doing, the level of comfort you prefer, and the amount of gear you’ll be carrying.

Remember, the best climbing harness isn’t the fanciest or most expensive one—it’s the one that fits you perfectly and suits your climbing style.

Climbing harness used for climbing using a rope for protection.

All About Sizing and Fit: Finding Your Perfect Climbing Harness

Alright, all you rock stars and gym-climbing gurus! Let’s get down to business. You wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on first, right? The same goes for your climbing harness.

It’s not just about looking fabulous as you ascend those crags or indoor walls (though that’s a definite plus!). It’s about finding a harness that fits like a glove… or should we say, a hug from your favorite teddy bear?

Measuring Up for Success

Before you even start dreaming about brand, color, or how many gear loops you want, you need to know your size. No, we’re not talking about your hat size, but your waist and thighs. These measurements ensure your harness will hold you comfortably and securely.

So, how to size a climbing harness?

For waist size, measure around your natural waist, usually just above your belly button. As for leg loop size, measure around the fullest part of your thigh. Remember, honesty is the best policy here. A too-tight harness won’t just be uncomfortable—it could be unsafe.

Even though its rare, an ill fitting harness can give blisters that will affect the way you climb. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine did a study on friction blisters.

The Goldilocks Principle: Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose…

Now that you’ve got your measurements, let’s discuss how a well-fitted harness should feel. Imagine Goldilocks, but instead of testing out porridge and beds, she’s trying on climbing harnesses. One is too tight, one is too loose, but the last one is just right.

The waistbelt should sit above your hips and be snug enough that it won’t slip down if you take a fall, but not so tight that you can’t breathe or eat that victory pizza after your climb.

The leg loops should fit closely but allow for a full range of movement.

If you happen to take a tumble (hey, it happens to the best of us!), your harness should distribute your weight evenly between your waist and thighs, not leave you feeling like you’ve been cut in half.

Try Before You Buy

We can’t stress this enough: try on your harness before you buy it. This isn’t an online shopping situation where you can return it if you don’t like the fit. This is about your safety and comfort while rock climbing. Once you find your harness you can always shop around online to find the best deals!

Every harness fits a little differently, and every body is unique. So, strap on that harness, hang from it, and do a little dance. Make sure it feels good and secure. Remember, this will be your constant companion on your vertical adventures, so choose wisely!

Bottom line? Don’t rush it. Take your time, try different sizes and styles, and find that harness that feels like it was made just for you. Because when it comes to rock climbing or gym climbing, the right gear makes all the difference.

Making The Climb: A Look at Popular Climbing Harness Brands

Today, we’re venturing into the world of climbing harness brands and styles. From the tried-and-true to the new kids on the block, we’ll explore what makes each brand unique and how they stack up against each other in terms of style, durability, comfort level, and price.

First up is a climbing classic: Black Diamond.

Black Diamond

A household name in the climbing community, Black Diamond harnesses are known for their exceptional quality and reliability.

  • Style: Black Diamond offers a wide range of designs suitable for different climbing styles, from sport to trad climbing. Their Chaos Harness, for example, is a top pick for its fixed leg loops and padded waistbelt.
  • Durability: Designed with robust materials and solid construction, these harnesses are built to last through countless climbs.
  • Comfort: Black Diamond harnesses typically feature ample padding for comfort during long climbs.
  • Price: Prices vary depending on the model, but you can expect to invest anywhere from $50 to $150.


Another staple in the climbing world, Petzl harnesses are celebrated for their comfort and versatility.

  • Style: Petzl offers a broad spectrum of harnesses to fit every climber’s needs. The Petzl Sama, for instance, stands out for its fixed leg loops and comfortable design.
  • Durability: Petzl harnesses are made with high-quality materials that withstand wear and tear.
  • Comfort: Many climbers praise Petzl for the comfort of their harnesses, often featuring adjustable leg loops and padded waistbelts.
  • Price: Petzl harnesses range from around $70 to $130.


Arc’teryx is a brand that pushes the boundaries of innovation, offering some of the most technologically advanced harnesses on the market.

  • Style: Arc’teryx climbing harnesses, like the C-Quence and FL-365, are known for their sleek, minimalist design.
  • Durability: With a focus on craftsmanship, these harnesses are designed to endure the rigors of the climb.
  • Comfort: Arc’teryx harnesses boast lightweight construction and breathable materials for optimal comfort.
  • Price: The advanced features come with a higher price tag, with harnesses ranging from $120 to $160.


Straight out of Germany, Edelrid has been crafting top-notch climbing gear since 1863. Their harnesses are known for their blend of comfort and functionality:

  • Style: Edelrid harnesses come in various designs catering to different climbing activities. Models like the Ace and Helia are popular for their sleek design and vibrant colors.
  • Durability: With a reputation for quality, Edelrid harnesses are built to last, even under rigorous climbing conditions.
  • Comfort: Reviews often highlight these harnesses’ soft and supple nature, making them good options for sport climbing and shorter multi-pitch climbs.
  • Price: Edelrid harnesses sit in the mid-to-high price range, reflecting their premium quality and feature set.


Swiss brand Mammut is synonymous with high-quality outdoor equipment. Their climbing harnesses are no exception:

  • Style: Mammut harnesses are all about understated style. They favor neutral colors with splashes of vibrant hues for visual interest.
  • Durability: Built with Swiss precision, Mammut harnesses are designed to withstand the test of time and intense climbing sessions.
  • Comfort: Many Mammut harnesses feature high-density EVA foam padding for added comfort during long climbs.
  • Price Point: Mammut offers various harnesses to suit different budgets, from entry-level options to high-end models.


Based in the USA, Metolius is a brand by climbers, for climbers. They offer a range of harnesses designed with practicality and safety in mind:

  • Style: Metolius harnesses lean towards a practical style, focusing on functionality over flash.
  • Durability: Known for their robust construction, Metolius harnesses are built to handle tough climbing conditions.
  • Comfort: While perhaps not as plush as some competitors, Metolius harnesses are praised for their reliable comfort and solid weight distribution.
  • Price Point: Metolius harnesses are reasonably priced, making them an excellent choice for climbers on a budget or those just starting out.

So, whether you’re drawn to the proven durability of Edelrid and Black Diamond, the Swiss precision of Mammut and Arc’teryx, the comfort of Petzle, or the practical design of Metolius, there’s a harness out there that’s perfect for your climbing needs.

Harnessing the Power: A Deep Dive into Climbing Harness Features

Hey climbers, ever wonder what all those loops, slots, and buckles on your harness are for? No, they’re not just there to make you look like a badass climbing ninja (although that’s definitely a bonus!).

Each feature on your climbing harness serves a specific purpose, enhancing your safety and overall climbing experience. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and demystify these features!

Buckle Fastening Systems

Let’s start with buckle fastening systems. These are the unsung heroes of your climbing harness. They keep your harness waist belt securely fastened so you don’t end up pantsed mid-climb (talk about a real cliffhanger!).

There are two main types: traditional double-back buckles and speed buckles. The former requires you to thread the webbing through twice for safety, while the latter allows for quicker adjustments. So, if you’re the kind who likes to hit the snooze button one too many times before an early morning climb, speed buckles might be your best friend.

Climbing harness with gear on it for rock climbing.

Gear Loops

Next up, we have gear loops. These handy little features are where you attach all your climbing gear. More gear loops mean more room for gear, making them a big wall climber’s dream come true.

Imagine being a kangaroo, but instead of a cute joey, you’re carrying cams, quickdraws, and slings in your pouch!


Now let’s talk about padding. This stands between you and a very uncomfortable hang when chilling at the belay station or taking a whipper. More padding can make a harness more comfortable but also heavier.

So, it’s all about finding that sweet spot between comfort and weight. After all, climbing is hard enough without feeling like you’re hauling a sofa up the wall.

Haul Loops

Speaking of hauling…Haul loops are the unsung heroes of big wall climbing. These sturdy loops at the back of your harness are designed to trail a second rope. They’re not meant for catching falls, but they’re perfect for dragging up that bag of snacks you’ll need for those multi-hour climbs.

Who said you can’t have a picnic hundreds of feet off the ground?

Ice Clipper Slots

Last but definitely not least, we have ice clipper slots. These are specifically designed for ice climbing, allowing you to carry ice screws on your harness.

If you’re into ice climbing or alpine climbing, these are as essential as a good pair of gloves. Because dropping an ice screw mid-climb is like losing a ski pole in the middle of a downhill run – not fun!

Remember, the best harness isn’t the one with the most features; it’s the one with the right features for your type of climbing. So whether you’re a gym rat, a crag lover, or an ice climbing enthusiast, make sure your harness has what you need to stay safe and comfortable and have a blast on your vertical adventures.

Safety First: Harnessing Your Climbing Adventure

Before you scale to new heights, let’s discuss something super important: safety. More specifically, the safety considerations of your trusty sidekick, the climbing harness.

Safety Features to Look Out For

When it comes to picking a climbing harness, safety should be your top priority. Here are some key features to look out for:

  • Buckles: Most harnesses today come with auto-locking buckles. They’re user-friendly and offer an extra layer of safety. Double-check that the buckles are easy to adjust and lock securely.
  • Gear Loops: These handy loops hold your equipment. Make sure they’re sturdy and well-attached.
  • Belay Loop: This is the most vital point of your harness, designed to take the most load. It is where you attach your belay device while belaying and your safety device while climbing. It should be robust and clearly marked.
  • Tie-In Points: These are the points where you tie the rope. They should be reinforced for durability.

Checking Your Harness: The Pre-Climb Ritual

Just like checking your car before a road trip, inspecting your harness before each climb is crucial. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as fraying, discoloration, or buckle damage.

If in doubt, get it checked out by a professional.

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

All good things must come to an end, and yes, that includes your beloved climbing harness. Just like with rock climbing shoes, there are some signs that it might be time to retire this vital piece of equipment:

  • Visible Damage: If you see any cuts, tears, or severe abrasion, it’s time to replace your harness. No exceptions.
  • Age: Even if your harness looks fine, manufacturers recommend replacing it every 3-7 years, depending on use.
  • A Major Fall: After a severe fall, it’s wise to retire your harness. The impact can compromise the integrity of the material, even if there’s no visible damage.
  • Discomfort: If your harness is no longer comfortable or doesn’t fit right, consider getting a new one.

Remember, when it comes to climbing, safety is always paramount. A well-fitted, high-quality harness is an investment in your climbing adventure. So, gear up, check your harness, and stay safe on those rocks!

Hanging in the Balance: The Art of Choosing the Perfect Climbing Harness

We all know that your gear is your lifeline in the world of climbing. And no piece of gear is more vital than the humble climbing harness. It’s the link between you and the rock (or ice or indoor wall), the ultimate safety, comfort, and functionality balancer.

But with so many options out there, how do you find ‘the one’? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Below you’ll find all the information you need to choose a rock climbing harness!

Climbing the Ladder of Considerations

Choosing a harness is like finding a good pair of jeans. It should fit just right, be comfortable enough to wear for hours, and of course, make you look like a rock star.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Fit: This is the holy grail of harness selection. A well-fitted harness won’t dig into your waist or thighs and will distribute weight evenly when hanging or belaying.
  2. Adjustability: Depending on your climbing style and body shape, you may want a harness with adjustable leg loops and waist belt for that tailor-made fit.
  3. Construction Quality: Check for robust stitching, durable materials, and reliable buckles. Your harness should be a fortress of strength, even if it feels as light as a feather.

Test Drive: Trying a Harness In-Store

Don’t be shy about testing that harness out when you’re in the store. Think of yourself as Goldilocks – you’re looking for the harness that feels ‘just right.’

First, adjust the waist belt. It should sit above your hips and feel snug but not too tight. You should be able to slide a hand between the belt and your body – but not two hands!

Next, check those leg loops. They should be comfortably snug, too, without cutting off circulation or allowing too much slack.

Remember to take a peek at the rear. That’s right – turn around and check that the belay loop aligns with the back of your harness. If it’s skewed or twisted, it’s a no-go.

Finally, hang around – literally. Most stores will have a place where you can hang in the harness. This is the ultimate test of comfort. If it feels good hanging around, it’ll feel good on the crag.

Choosing the Right Climbing Harness: Our Final Thoughts!

As we’ve explored in this guide, selecting the proper climbing harness isn’t a task to be taken lightly. It’s a crucial piece of gear that can significantly impact your climbing experience, from comfort and mobility to safety.

Understanding the features of a climbing harness is essential. Some harnesses offer adjustable leg loops or extra padding for comfort, while others might provide additional gear loops for carrying equipment during multi-pitch climbing. Familiarize yourself with these features to identify what you need for your climbing style.

Measuring yourself correctly can help you find the perfect fit. But remember, nothing beats trying on a harness before purchasing. It’s the best way to ensure a good fit and comfort.

Lastly, knowing when to retire an old harness is crucial for your safety. Look out for signs of wear and tear, such as fraying, discoloration, or broken buckles. When in doubt, replace it – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Finding the perfect climbing harness may require some time and thought, but it’s certainly worth the investment. So, why wait? Start your journey today and discover how the proper harness can elevate your climbing experience. And when you’re ready to start climbing outdoors, check out our article on how to train for hard climbs!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Quickdraw for climbing

The 10 Best Quickdraws For Climbing

There’s a certain kind of magic in rock climbing that’s hard to find anywhere else. It’s just you, your gear, and the rock face—a dance of trust,