Selecting the right harness for climbing purposes can make a big difference in how much a person actually enjoys the activity. Not only is a harness going to be one of the main safety precautions needed, but it also provides a level of comfort when climbing and resting.
Simply put, nobody wants to skimp on something so vital when it comes to climbing and going up quite a bit in the air. That is why proper research is needed in order to find just the right harness to fit a person’s particular needs.
Below is a closer look at the top climbing harnesses on the market today. With a ride range of price and features, most people will be able to find at least a few options that can work for them just fine. A lot of it comes down to personal comfort as well, so if possible, trying the harnesses beforehand is another way to really be sure of the right purchase.
- 1. Black Diamond Momentum Harness
- 2. Black Diamond Primrose Women’s Harness
- 3. Weanas Thicken Climbing Harness
- 4. Xben Climbing Harness Professional Mountaineering Rock Climbing Harness
- 5. Black Diamond Momentum Harness Package
- 6. kissloves Full Body Safety Harness Outdoor
- 7. PETZL – CORAX, Versatile and Adjustable Harness
- 8. YaeCCC Climbing Harness Belt for Fire Rescue High Altitude
- 9. Black Diamond Vario Speed Harness
- 10. YXGOOD Treestand Harness, Tree Working Safety Belt
- Tips for Selecting a Climbing Harness
- Types of Harnesses
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
1. Black Diamond Momentum Harness
The Black Diamond Momentum Harness has some of the best features on the market today. When you consider it compared to other models in the same price bracket, it is easy to see why some people view it as the best overall value.
A perfect option for a beginner and even intermediate climbers, the harness is very strong, durable and comfortable. The harness is very well put together, which is a major reason why it just feels safe to use time and time again. The double stitching used throughout really seems to make a difference, and all the gear loops are very durable as well.
Cushioning with the harness is very good, but it does take some time to get the proper fit in order to take advantage of the cushioning. That initial set up is more than worth it, because after going through it, very little additional work will need to be done.
- Best overall value for a climbing harness
- Multiple colors and sizes
- A lot of cushioning
- Initial fitting takes time
- Must order a size bigger than normal for a proper fit
2. Black Diamond Primrose Women’s Harness
This model from Black Diamond is geared towards women, but it is more than just different colors. The harness also has a slightly different fit for women based on their body shape, and it supports a wide range of weight for a smooth and comfortable climbing experience.
Fit is a big part of any harness, and women trying to use harnesses built for men might not get that perfect fit they are looking for. Instead of constantly looking for different options with the same problem, a women's version might be the better choice.
Everything a person could really look for in a harness like this is available. It has an adjustable rear elastic riser, four gear loops, a haul loop and a very durable build. The company does a very good job of delivering harnesses with great materials, and this one is certainly no different.
Pay attention to sizing as much as possible, because the company has done a pretty good job of making sure that they offer different versions. From extra small to large, every fit is going to be slightly different, so take the extra time to do the adjustments before hand and everything should be good.
- Built for women
- Multiple color choices
- Four sizes makes it a harness any woman can use
- Adjustments take a lot of time to perfect
- Lack of quality sizing information online
3. Weanas Thicken Climbing Harness
When it comes to affordable options, it doesn't get much better than a harness that is under $20. It is far and away the cheapest option in this article, and with positive reviews online, it is something a lot of climbers use on a daily basis.
The simple design does everything well, even if there are not a lot of extras to the harness. It fits practically every person's waist and legs, and can be used for indoor or outdoor climbing.
Some of the more seasoned climbers out there might want to go with something a little bit more durable. It can be somewhat difficult to get just the right fit without a lot of effort. Tightening the harness is a challenge, making it not the most user-friendly option available.
For casual climbers, this harness is tough to beat. A person can just slip into it and have it be pretty reliable when climbing. As long as it is used by the same individual on a consistent basis, there is not a lot of need to do additional adjustings after the first one.
- Very inexpensive
- One size fits all
- Minimalistic look and feel
- Not that durable
- Only comes in one color
4. Xben Climbing Harness Professional Mountaineering Rock Climbing Harness
Comfort is a major selling point for this harness, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. In fact, those who are just looking for the most comfortable harness out there might not be able to top this one. The padding is put in just the right spots, and it helps to eliminate any pain in common areas like the lower back and hip.
To achieve that comfort, the fit needs to be solid. The biggest problem with the harness from Xben is that it can be tough to keep snug at all times. Some people like a more relaxed fit anyway, so it might not matter as much to them. For others, it's a definite cause for concern.
The materials used are all solid, and the polyester mesh used makes it very lightweight and cool. It's a great first harness option for a lot of people, but those who prefer a snug fit might need to look elsewhere.
- Extremely comfortable
- A lot of padding throughout
- Hard to get a consistently snug fit
- Strap stitching could be better
5. Black Diamond Momentum Harness Package
Black Diamond makes a total of four appearances in this list, but this is the top of the line model from the company. Priced at around $100 and up, the investment is pretty big, but overall it's worth it for a lot of people when they take a look at all the different features.
The first thing that really stands out is that everything is quality as far as materials used are concerned. Nobody wants to be climbing with subpar materials being used on their harness, so that extra feeling of security is definitely a good one. It has a very solid Rocklock Screwgate locking carabiner, not to mention a ATC-XP belay/rappel device. These features might not stand out too much initially, but they just make the harness very dependable.
Thrown into the package is a Mojo chalk bag with chalk.It is a nice little extra for somebody who wants an entire package instead of having to itemize a bunch of different things.
Not only can new climbers really benefit from this product, but seasoned climbers continually use this harness as well. It should be able to hold up for extended use, so the investment usually pays off in the end.
- Very durable
- Uses the best materials
- Free chalk bag and chalk
- Only provides a single band adjustment for the harness
6. kissloves Full Body Safety Harness Outdoor
A full body safety harness might be more than what some people are used to, but others swear by this setup. It definitely provides more support than other options, while not adding that much weight.
This is really a comfortable harness, and quite possibly the most comfortable option on this list. From padding up and down the body to the overall construction of the harness, it just feels very lightweight when in uses. It also is made of a very lightweight material that is lined with breathable mesh.
Available in red or black, this harness is one of the better options available for the full body harness experience. If someone is looking for this level of support, it is hard to argue against going with this one.
- Extremely comfortable
- Offers full support
- Two different colors to pick from
- Learning curve due to all the adjustment options
- Not built for heavier climbers
7. PETZL – CORAX, Versatile and Adjustable Harness
A dual strap harness with plenty of comfort? That's all a lot of people are looking for out of a harness when climbing initially, so the CORAX is off to a great start.
It's pretty easy to adjust before taking off, or during the climb, but the leg loops are a little thin compared to competitors. The harness makes up for that by being extremely strong throughout the body of the harness, not making a person feel like there is a chance of slipping out at all.
This seems to be a harness that works best for lead and top rope rock climbing, but it's a pretty versatile option for all types of climbing. It can be tailored to fit a number of different scenarios, which makes it a good investment for people who are casual or consistent climbers.
Unlike a lot of harness companies, PETZL offers some pretty interesting colors for people to pick from. It's a nice bonus feature when shopping online and wanting a harness that stands out a bit.
- Very sturdy through the core
- Multiple color choices
- Weight distribution is great
- Leg loops are a little thin
- Price for some color/size combinations is high
8. YaeCCC Climbing Harness Belt for Fire Rescue High Altitude
This is another full body harness that can be used for a number of different activities. In fact, the majority of people who purchase this harness actually use it for fire rescue. Climbing is also going to be very easy to do with this, especially if a person prefers a lot of support.
A full harness is going to lock a person in and make them feel safer while climbing, but some don't like how it can limit mobility. With this option from YaeCCC, they do a great job of still allowing for a free range of motion at all times.
The weight of the harness is a little on the heavy side, but nothing that most people can't deal with. The company also offers half body and upper body models for people to consider as well if they wish.
- Heavy duty
- Comes with CE certification labels
- Inexpensive for full body
- Not that comfortable for extended use
- Durability is not as great as other options
9. Black Diamond Vario Speed Harness
With the word speed in the name, shoppers expect a lightweight harness that is easy to use. That's exactly what the Vario Speed delivers. Available in two different colors, it's a simple harness that allows for easy adjustments on the go and a full range of motion.
When using this harness, it's perhaps the closest thing to not feeling like there is one being used at all. Not only is it lightweight, but it is low profile, not really limiting a climber in any way.
- Low profile
- Easy to adjust
- Leg straps are not that comfortable
- Might not provide enough support for beginners
10. YXGOOD Treestand Harness, Tree Working Safety Belt
With a design geared towards tree climbing, house and garden work, firefighting and more, this harness from YXGOOD can also be used to do rock climbing. Available in both a half body and full body option, the harness has a lot of room to carry additional accessories along the way.
Some people climb with a lot of accessories, while others opt for a more lightweight approach. For those who have a lot of stuff, this might be a great option to consider.
- Full and half body options
- Plenty of space/loops for accessories
- Not built specifically for climbing
- Craftsmanship is not the best in some areas
Tips for Selecting a Climbing Harness
There are a few things you can establish before starting to shop for this particular gear. While it is important to respect your budget, this item is crucial for your safety so it is not exactly an item you want to bargain hunt for.
Know how often you plan to use your harness. It can make a difference in the quality you should purchase. It is also good to have an idea of what discipline you will use the gear for. This changes the type of harness you purchase. You can find a harness that is a compromise if all disciplines if you do not climb enough to buy specialized gear.
Test your harness. Any proper retailer will have an area designated for testing this gear. There might not be an entire wall for you to climb, but there should at least be a place where you can fully suspend in the gear. Testing is the only true way for you to know the best fitting gear for you. It is very difficult to know how a harness will really fit unless it is fully suspending your body weight.
Lastly, do not rule out a harness made for the opposite sex. It is not uncommon to find that it fits you better than one designed for your own gender.
Types of Harnesses
It may be surprising to a newcomer to the sport just how many different types of harnesses are made. There are gym or sport harnesses, ice and mixed climbing, traditional or trad, and mountaineering. In addition to these types there are even more specialized harnesses. There are competition types, big wall, rescue and even construction types designed for climbing and rappelling in industrial and urban applications.
Each type are designed with certain features that facilitate ease and safety in each discipline. This could be the weight, materials used, the presence or absence of padding, and features that dictate how much gear you can attach to your harness.
Considering how many different types of harness there are it should come as no surprise that there are also a number of brands. The top climbing brands include Black Diamond, Petzl, Mammut, and Camp to name a few.
With such a wide variety of types and brands it should be expected that there is a wide price range for this piece of equipment. Sport and gym models can cost as low as twenty-five dollars while some construction models can cost more than four hundred dollars. A safe range for the typical climber is $50 to $100.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
The most commonly asked question seems to be whether or not you need a gender specific harness. The quick answer is, no. A gender specific harness is based on anatomy. It accommodates for the typical anatomy of each sex. So, gender specific gear might be more comfortable, but it should provide for the same amount of safety taking into account that the waist can be made tight enough to be secure. There are also unisex climbing harnesses that accommodate both men and women’s anatomy.
Do you have to buy a harness for your exact discipline? Using a sport or gym harness made for traditional climbing might not be the most comfortable experience, but it is possible. Discipline specific equipment just makes you more comfortable and makes it easier to accomplish that type of a climb. However, using a harness designed for a different type of climbing will not put you in danger. The only exception is if you need more gear than your harness can carry. Other than that it will mostly be inconvenient and super uncomfortable.
What is a Climbing Harness?
This is a piece of climbing equipment that safely secures you to your rope which is affixed to some sort of anchor. While this piece of equipment can look complex, especially loaded up with gear, the concept is very simple. It is so simple that it is possible to create a proper harness with just a piece of rope. This is not recommended as the fit will likely result in a good amount pain, but it could do in a pinch…pun intended.
Differences Between Men and Women’s Harness?
All of you sorted types should know that differences between a harness for a man and a woman is all in the waist and legs, only. While it is important to note not all men and women are built in this fashion, the gear follows generalizations in anatomy. Typically women have a smaller waist and bigger thighs than men. A woman’s harness takes this anatomy into consideration. In addition a woman usually has a higher rise than men. This means that there is a greater distance from the thighs to the waist in women.
Typically a man’s harness will hit a woman at the hips rather than waist. It can also be difficult for a woman to secure the waist of a man’s harness sufficiently. With that being said there are women with low rises and thin thighs that have no problem with the men’s equipment. At the same time there are also men whose body types are better suited to a woman’s harness.
On a superficial note most harnesses made for women are manufactured in a stereotypical feminine color like pink or lavender. This added feature makes no difference in the performance other than to make you feel pretty. However, this beautification usually adds some extra cost to the price, worth it to some and worthless to others. There are unisex harnesses that are a happy medium between the designs. The unisex design usually allows for a greater range of adjustment at both the waist and legs. The rise is a happy medium between the two designs.
How Long Does a Harness Last?
There are several factors that determine how long you should have your harness before replacing it. The first factor is how much you use it. The next is how you use it or rather on what type of surfaces. Rough rock and rough climbing drastically reduce the lifespan of your equipment. Lastly, how well do you store and care for your equipment. You can squeeze an extra year or so just by taking care of your equipment.
As a general rule of thumb a frequent climber should get new gear every year and three years at the very, very most. Those who are more of a weekend warrior type should think about replacing the gear at the seven to ten year mark. Typically the infrequent user will get new harness out of boredom in the same old gear over needed to replace it for safety reasons.
There are signs of wear that indicate when you need to throw out the old and purchase something new. These signs negate any and all rules of thumb as to how long you should own your harness. These signs include fraying, discoloration in the webbing, abrasion marks on the bar-tacks, and of course buckle damage. Inspect your gear before and even after each use. If you see any one of these signs ditch that gear even if you have only owned it for a month. It is literally a matter of life or death.
How to Fit Your Harness
As mentioned before, use your gear to truly know if it fits correctly. However, there is a general guide to use that can get you in the right ballpark. Ideally you should be able to fit one or two fingers in between any strap and your body. It is a good idea to ensure that this point is not at the maximum adjustment or the minimum adjustment. This is to accommodate any change in your body size.
It is important to wear the same type of clothes that you will climb in while trying on this equipment. This is especially true if you are climbing in colder temperature and need to accommodate for thicker clothing. Be sure that the waist strap sits at your actually waist and not your hips. If you are having a hard time ensuring this fit try a harness made for the opposite gender. The rise differs greatly in the design for each gender.
How Do You Double Back A Harness
It is extremely easy to double back your harness. However, this one simple step is an invaluable security measure. Once you have put your harness on and all the straps are secure, snug the waist tightly. Take the strap end and feed it back through the keeper loop. This double back prevents your harness from becoming loose while using. There are harnesses that have quick adjust straps. The quick adjust takes a couple of seconds off of putting your harness on and taking it off. Unfortunately there is a chance that the quick adjust can walk on you abit causing your harness to loosen. Which is better is of course a matter of personal preference.
Elizabeth Sparks received a Masters Degree in geology from The University of Colorado. Elizabeth has been working as a full-time geologist for the past 5 years. In her spare time, Elizabeth participates in rock climbing competitions and frequently goes camping with friends.