How to Buy a Climbing Harness

Mountain climbing and rock wall climbing can both be a lot of fun, but as with any extreme sport, safety is very important. As a climber, your ropes, carabiners and climbing harness must work together to ensure a safe climb. While ropes and carabiners are fairly interchangeable, climbing harnesses are specialized for different types of climbing and different body types. This article presents a guide for how to buy a climbing harness.


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    Consider the gear you may need on your belt. A 10-minute excursion up an indoor wall requires different equipment from an overnight trip on the side of a mountain.
    • Leg loops are not necessary for short climbs, but are a vital piece of mountain climbing equipment for longer climbs. If you plan a long climb, look for adjustable leg loops, which you can resize to allow you to fit different types of clothing to match your climbing environment.
    • Gear loops are used for carrying equipment. A recreational harness may have only 2 gear loops, and they may never be used. A specialized harness has 4 or more gear loops so that you can bring food, weather gear, and any other essentials with you.
    • The more gear you plan to carry on your climbing belt, the more padding you need for comfort. For some applications, such as mountain rescue, you may also require additional lumbar support.
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    Consider the type of climbing you will be doing.
    • For recreational climbing, whether indoor or outdoor, you can get away with a comparatively inexpensive climbing harness with no accessories. A recreational harness is fine for short-term use.
    • A traditional harness has leg loops, gear loops, and light padding, but is not suitable for long excursions or climbing in extreme conditions.
    • Ice harnesses are designed to stand up to extremely cold temperatures. They feature adjustable leg loops to fit over cold-weather clothing, additional gear loops for equipment such as ice picks, and extra padding for additional support because of the additional equipment required for cold-weather climbing.
    • Mountaineering harnesses are lighter weight than ice harnesses. These harnesses are designed to be worn with a backpack on which you carry your gear.
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    Try on several harnesses before purchasing a mountain climbing harness. The harness you choose should be comfortable. You should fit in it at the middle settings, so that you can tighten or loosen it based on the requirements of different climbs. Some mountain climbing equipment stores offer an indoor testing station you can use to be sure you can hang comfortably in the harness before purchasing it.


  • Many manufacturers offer harnesses designed specifically for women. While the general steps for how to buy a climbing harness are the same, women should consider a women's harness, which offers a more comfortable fit.
  • Smaller children should wear a full-body harness because they have a higher center of gravity. Full-body harnesses will keep children safer while they learn the basics of climbing and are prepared to move into a seat-harness when they reach adult proportions.

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Categories: Outdoor Recreation