A climbing harness is non-negotiable when it comes to climbing. This is one of the best safety gear you will need. It provides the contact point between you, the belayer, and the rope. The harness will prevent you from falling while also being comfortable. However, not all harnesses are the same. You need to find one that is suitable for climbing you intend to do.
In this climbing harness buying guide, we’ll talk about the available types, making it easier to decide which one is most suitable for your needs.
8 Types of Climbing Harnesses
The easiest way to decide on the type of harness is to determine the type of climbing that you wish to do.
1. All-Around Climbing Harness
All-around climbing harnesses are exactly what the name implies. They are used for all types of climbing. This is a great choice for beginners who are not into any specialized climbing.
An all-around climbing harness comes with a padded waist belt and leg loops. All the loops are adjustable. There is also a dedicated rappel or belay loop in the front, which will allow easy connections with the waist belt and leg loop.
2. Gym or Sport Climbing Harness
The most basic of the types of climbing harnesses, a gym or sport climbing harness is made for ultralight travel. They have minimal weight and bulk compared to other harnesses.
A gym or sport climbing harness can have a single automatic or double-back waist buckle, making it easy for you to get on and off the harness. The belay loop is thin, which allows it to save weight. There are only two gear loops since you won’t need a lot of gear.
3. Traditional Climbing Harness
Compared to sport climbing, you will need more gears in trad climbing, so you will need to have a more supportive harness, ideally, one that comes with four or more gear loops.
Thick and durable padding is one of the most common features you’ll find in a trad climbing harness. It also comes with extra lumbar support to keep you more stable, which is also a great way to prevent rock-climbing injuries.
4. Ice Climbing Harness
One thing that makes this different from the other types of climbing harnesses is the inclusion of an ice clipper slot. The latter is a fabric loop for attaching carabiners to the harness, which you will use to rack ice screws.
A climbing harness also usually features a haul loop, which will provide storage space for an additional climbing rope.
5. Alpine / Mountaineering Harness
A lot of its features are similar to ice climbing harnesses, but there is a significant difference when it comes to weight. Alpine harnesses are ultra-light, which will allow you to go fast once you are in the mountains.
The mountaineering harness, on the other hand, is a trimmed version of the alpine harness. It has minimal gear loops and little to no padding. They have thin material and a thin belay loop, which also helps reduce their weight.
6. Big Wall Harness
A big wall harness is one of the specialized types of climbing harnesses. One of its most noticeable features is the extra-wide padding, which provides superior comfort for an extended period. This will help relieve pressure from the waist and legs.
Most of the big wall harnesses have at least four gear loops. This will help you carry a large amount of gear while being comfortable.
7. Competition Harness
Competition harnesses share similar characteristics to gym climbing harnesses, mostly because they are both used indoors. It does not come with gear loops since you don’t need any gear as you go up.
It is also common for competition harnesses to have a thin belay loop. In some harnesses, there is no belay loop since you won’t use belay devices.
8. Canyoneering Harness
Traditional rock climbing harnesses will quickly deteriorate in tight slots, which is why you will need a special harness for canyoneering.
One of the most common features in a canyoneering harness is extra seat protection, which is usually made of waterproof material. It is beefy and thick to prevent wear despite frequently rubbing against rocks.
Before we conclude this climbing harness buying guide, let’s answer a few questions some of you might have.
Q: What is a harness in rock climbing?
A harness in rock climbing is a type of protective equipment. It secures the climber to an anchor point or rope. A climbing harness is nylon or rope that is tied around the waist or looped between the legs. The main parts include two leg loops and one hip belt.
Q: How much weight can a climbing harness hold?
The weight that a climbing harness holds ranges from 130 to 310 pounds. However, this is not an absolute figure. Many factors should be taken into account, such as the material used in the harness. Stronger harness materials will support more weight.
Q: How tight should your climbing harness be?
The climbing harness should be tight enough to secure the climber but not too tight to the point that it will be uncomfortable. You must be able to fit a couple of fingers between the harness belt and your waist.
Q: How long does climbing harness last?
The average lifespan of a climbing harness is three years. This can be longer or shorter depending on the materials and the frequency of its use. However, as a general rule, if your climbing harness is more than five years old, consider retiring it. Otherwise, you might end up compromising your safety.
Q: How much does a climbing harness cost?
The cost of a climbing harness ranges from $50 to $150. The exact price of a climbing harness will depend on several factors, such as the brand, material, and overall quality. For your safety and assurance of quality, choose a high-quality harness, even if it isn’t the cheapest.
Globo Surf Overview
One of the easiest ways to overcome rock climbing fear is to use the right gear. With this, you will need the right climbing harness. However, not all harnesses are the same. As mentioned in this short climbing harness buying guide, there are different types available. Choose a harness most suitable for your type of climbing.