There are many physical activities where it is not always essential to have up-to-date, quality equipment. For example, your battered old glove should still let you catch the baseball, and those worn out running shoes might just get through another 100 miles or so.
However, when it comes to climbing, whether that is up rocks, mountains, walls, or buildings, having a harness that is comfortable, and more importantly safe, is absolutely essential. If you are a beginner and you are wondering what is a climbing harness used for, then you have come to the right place.
The climbing harness is a piece of equipment used by climbers to climb or decent mountains, walls, trees. The climbing harness securely distributes the weight of the climber during the practice of outdoor activities and the harness is a must equipment for any climber or rappeller.
If your current climbing harness needs replacing, or want to purchase your first one, our reviews and buying guide to the best climbing harness will help you choose the right one.
Climbing Harness Comparison Table
Trad, sport, mountaineering
Sport, lightweight alpine, trad
Low profile climbing
List of the Best Climbing Harnesses
#1 Black Diamond Momentum Harness
If you prefer simplicity, then the Momentum harness from Black Diamond is surely a candidate in the category of the best climbing harness, with the added benefit of it being made by a manufacturer with a track record of producing quality climbing equipment for over 60 years.
In your search for a climbing harness, you’ll come across many that have belts, loops, and buckles which make adjusting them seem like a time-consuming effort.
That is not the case with the Momentum harness as it is designed to save you time when it comes to adjustments. It has a ‘Speed Adjust’ waist belt that is not only quicker to adjust but also reduces the chances of any errors in adjustment.
In terms of comfort, the inner shell is made from a non-abrasive nylon material so no matter what climbing activity you are participating in, it won’t be ruined by your harness rubbing and causing you pain.
Comfort is further enhanced by the dual-core construction of the Momentum harness. This involves having continuous layers of webbing within the belt and between them a layer of foam which ensures that the belt is supportive and comfortable.
Each leg loop is made from a single band of high-tensile nylon which provides the support you need while at the same time adding another check mark in the comfort column. These "trakFIT" loops have a patent pending for their advanced customization feature.
Other features include an adjustable elastic riser at the back of the harness, four loops for equipment, which is four more than a lot of other climbing harnesses offer, and you can even choose from four different colors which are blue, graphite, verde, and slate.
What we like in particular about Black Diamond Momentum Harness is that being able to adjust quickly and easily means that no matter what climbing activity you are about to partake in, it gets started with the minimum of frustration and fuss.
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#2 Kissloves Full Body Outdoor Climbing Harness
This full body harness from Kissloves is ideal for all climbing activities and provides wearers plenty of support, comfort, and reassurance that they will be safe and secure while using it. One of the primary desires of any climbing harness is that it is comfortable while being worn. There are several features within this harness that makes this possible.
The first is the way in which the design of the harness enables the even distribution of pressure so that no one part of your body, such as your waist or legs, feels any more pressure than another.
The next feature to help maintain comfort is the padding in the waist belt and leg loops which is breathable and thus reduces the chances of sweat building up if you are climbing in hot weather.
Obviously, safety is paramount for any climbing activity and this Kisslove harness ensures this is achieved. Highly quality stitching is used throughout, and high-strength polyester materials are used in the manufacturing of the other main parts of the harness.
High strength metal buckles not only provide further durability but also allow you to adjust the harness, so you have it fitting you in the securest and most comfortable way.
Safety is also enhanced by having double straps throughout the harness, and by the strong metal rings which climbing ropes will be looped through. Talking of loops, you also have two gear loops for securing or clipping on equipment.
What's to Like About the Kissloves Full Body Outdoor Climbing Harness
Using breathable material for the waistband and leg loops adds an additional level of comfort that many harnesses don’t have and will be especially welcome when climbing in the summer months.
If you are often climbing with your dog, read our guide on the best dog rappelling harnesses.
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#3 MelkTemn Half Body Climbing Harness
If any younger, smaller or beginner climbers feel some of the more advanced harnesses seem complicated, this simple, but high-quality harness from MelkTemn, is an ideal solution. It’s true that some of the best climbing harnesses do look somewhat complicated with all the buckles, loops and adjustable straps, and may possibly put you off if you are not experienced when it comes to climbing.
That does not mean that each one is like that, and to prove it, here is a half-body climbing harness which is very easy to use, but that does not mean it is any less safe and secure.
To start with, it has been CE certified which means it has undergone tests to ensure its suitability and safe use as a climbing harness. In terms of how it does so on a practical basis, the first feature is the reinforced bearing loop which any climbing ropes will be attached to.
In addition to this, all the stitching where parts of the harness are joined, has also been reinforced. While safety is the number one priority, comfort is very important too.
The design of the harness means that when any user is sitting in it, their weight will be evenly distributed which eliminates any pinch or pressure points, which can at best be annoying, and at worst very painful.
Other features which aid your comfort are the alloy adjustment buckles and elasticated straps which allow you to get the harness fitting you just right.
One final point to draw your attention to is that the price of this climbing harness is significantly less than most others, which will be welcome news if you like getting your money’s worth.
What's to Like About the MelkTemn Half Body Climbing Harness
It is only fair to re-emphasize once more how simple and easy it is to use. There’s no doubt how it is put on and the adjustments can be made simply and quickly.
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The overall appearance of this harness portrays a product that is tough and durable and that is exactly what this the Corax from Petzl is. The main material that achieves this is the high-strength polyester webbing, which is used for the main belt and the leg loops.
These provide flexibility without compromising whatsoever on its toughness and durability. Often when strength is made a priority in a product which has to be worn, the comfort is compromised to achieve it, however, that is not the case with this harness.
The belt and leg loops are very flexible, and they are all adjustable so that you can achieve the most comfortable fit possible. Comfort is enhanced further thanks to the breathability of that material and the thick padding within the waist belt which provides cushioning.
The adjustments you can make allow you to center the harness perfectly, so that when it is supporting your weight you do not experience any painful pressure points.
Those adjustments can be made quickly and easily using the two metal buckles on the waistband and you can also adjust the leg loops individually. Should you need to carry equipment or tools when climbing you have plenty of capacity to do so thanks to having no fewer than 4 gear loops.
There are two rigid loops on the front and the two flexible loops on the rear of the harness. You also have 4 color choices, and those are light blue, green, grey and denim blue.
What's to Like About the Petzl Corax Adjustable Best Climbing Harness
With four gear loops, this climbing harness is extremely versatile and practical with many uses including rock climbing, indoor climbing, and jobs which require working at heights.
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#5 Xben Professional Climbing Harness
Our final review brings us to this climbing harness from Xben, and it is one which those who are taller or have a larger frame will be interested in as it fits those for whom smaller harnesses are too tight.
We’ll start with the size specifications because they are generous in terms of the waist and leg dimensions, and also in the safe weight limit. That weight limit goes up to a massive 600 lbs. and should be more than enough to safely hold anyone using this harness.
In terms of sizes, the waist strap will accommodate up to 47-inch waists, with the leg loops going up to 29.5 inches. Taking all of these specifications together highlights why larger users should find this harness more accommodating than most.
In terms of being held safely and securely in the harness, those parts which take most of the load are reinforced, and this includes the bungee straps and the stitching, plus the buckles are made from quality alloys. You should also be reassured that the harness meets quality standards thanks to it having CE certification and ISO 9001 certification.
Your comfort level while wearing this harness is achieved by more than one of its features. First, you have the thick padded waistband, whose material is also breathable to reduce sweating while it is being worn.
You also have the means to adjust all the straps so that they are secure, but not too tight. These should allow you to wear the harness for several hours without feeling any discomfort.
What's to Like About the Xben Professional Climbing Harness
The fact that the specifications of this harness mean larger and heavier climbers have a quality harness that will fit them comfortably and safely is highly welcomed.
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Best Climbing Harness Buyers Guide
When choosing the best climbing harness for yourself there are some features which are likely to play a bigger part in that decision than others, so here they are and what they mean.
Types of Climbing Harness
There are generally three types of climbing harness.
1) Traditional Climbing Harness
Normally has strong thick padding, adjustable leg straps, and at least 4 gear loops with some having an additional rope loop. These are used for traditional climbing and for many professions where a sturdy and robust harness is necessary
2) Winter Climbing Harness
Used for alpine and other climbs in winter, these harnesses use a special foam called ‘closed cell’ which does not soak up water, which would otherwise make climbing more difficult when it froze.
3) Sport Climbing Harness
Very lightweight harnesses, and minimalistic, they are used for indoor and gym climbing. Simple non-adjustable leg loops, thin waist belts and 2 or fewer gear loops all help keep them lightweight.
Climbing Harness Size and Fitting
The two main sizes you need to be concerned with are waist size and leg size and what the maximums are, as specified by the manufacturer.
Waist belts and leg loops can be adjusted to fit your own specific sizes. When being worn your harness should feel snug and secure without pinching anywhere.
Climbing Harness Safety
Safety is paramount, given that a climbing harness literally holds your life in its hands, as it holds you.
Always check for industry and official certifications such as a ‘CE Certified’ which will identify that the product has passed certain quality tests. Look for features such as reinforced stitching and quality buckles.
Climbing Harness Adjustability
There are normally two adjustments which you can make on climbing harness, and they are the waistband and the leg loops. While adjustment is important for comfort, they also add to the safety aspect by ensuring that the harness is secure.
If you feel pressure on your legs, waist or anywhere else while climbing, you should adjust that specific strap or loop at the next safe opportunity. Some harnesses will be easier to adjust than others, and there will also be differences in how much adjustment can be made.
Climbing Harness Weight and Comfort
Every harness will have a maximum safe weight and it is a simple matter of you checking this as it relates to your weight, albeit most harness will be suitable for anyone who isn’t seriously overweight.
Comfort will be achieved by first ensuring that the harness is adjusted correctly to your size and weight. thereafter features such thick padded foam waist bands can enhance your level of comfort while climbing.
Best Climbing Harnesses FAQ
1) What is the best climbing harness?
Excellent values are the Edelrid Sendero, a perfect all-around harness choice, the Black Diamond Solution, perhaps, our favorite harness for sport climbing, and the Petzl Sama, another excellent all-around harness choice. While the lowest-priced options are good choices for newbie climbers, we think it's worth spending some extra money for one of the best harness choices that will most probably serve beginners very well for many years.
2) How often should you replace your climbing harness?
The most appropriate time to replace your harness is after 1-3 years, depending on the frequency of its use. Regardless of its use, any rappelling or climbing harness should be replaced after a maximum of 10 years.
Climbers who go climbing once a week or a few times a month could definitely get a few years out of their harness before it is time to replace their climbing harness.
3) What is the lightest climbing harness?
With its mere 150 grams in a medium-size (5.2 ounces), the lightest climbing harness on the market is Blue Ice Addax.
4) How do I tie in to a climbing harness?
This is easier to show than explain, so it might be worth looking on YouTube for a video where you can see how it is done. Nevertheless, here are the steps required:
- Hold the end of the rope with one hand and measure out a length equivalent to your arm span.
- Make a loop about 3 feet from the end of the rope, and then wrap it back through to form a ‘figure of 8’ knot. This knot should be around 36 inches from the end of the rope.
- Pass the rope through the loops at the front of your harness and pull until the knot is 1 inch from the first loop.
- Take the end of the rope and follow the figure of eight. Continue until you are at the start of the knot
- Pull everything tight, and you should have around 10 inches of rope left.
You can use these 10 inches of rope to tie a further backup fisherman’s knot and to keep the excess rope out of the way. You can check how to tie some of the most popular rappelling and climbing knots.
5) How do I use a climbing harness?
Climbing harnesses can be used for multiple climbing activities which can either be on a professional basis or for leisure. There are many professions who use them where access is required to high up places.
A couple of examples are those who have to repair guttering and window cleaners who specialize in tall buildings, such as office blocks. Leisure climbing includes rock climbing. ice climbing, and indoor wall climbing to name but three.
Safe use is achieved by putting on the harness and adjusting it so that it fits snuggly and comfortably, ensuring that all buckles and straps are securely fastened.
Depending on the type of climbing you are undertaking, you will then use one or more ropes to secure the harness as you either ascend or descend.
6) How do I put on a climbing harness?
Step into the leg loops and pull the harness up as you would a pair of shorts. Tighten the waist belt by pulling it through until it feels secure and comfortable.
Tighten each leg loop by pulling their straps through. As with the waist belt they should secure and comfortable. Make any minor adjustments so that you are 100% comfortable.
Double check all buckles and straps to ensure they are secure. You should get a climbing partner to check your harness for you too.
7) What size climbing harness should I use?
There are three specifications which you should check on a climbing harness as it relates to your size. These are:
- Maximum weight;
- Waist size;
- Leg sizes.
Quite simply you should choose a climbing harness which will easily accommodate all three of your own personal measurements.
8) How do I choose a climbing harness?
There are several factors to consider when choosing. The main one is that the climbing harness meets the necessary quality standards, as remember, your life could depend on it being able to support you.
You will also want to check the specifications in terms of weight and size to make sure it will fit you. Other factors such as comfort features, ease of use, number of gear loops, color choice may also play a part in your decision.
Finally, there is the cost of the harness and whether that constitutes good value for money.
Best Climbing Harness Final Verdict
Each of the climbing harnesses we have reviewed offer good levels of comfort and safety, so it is difficult to differentiate on them on that even though one or two have specific quirks depending on your size.
We looked at all the features each harness offers, and the best climbing harness to came out on the top is the Black Diamond Momentum Harness. This climbing harness is made from a top manufacturer with a lot of experience in this field and this is evidenced quite clearly by how simple the Momentum is to use.
Adjustments are easy, especially the leg straps and once it is being worn, it is very comfortable in all areas, with the dual-core waist belt construction being particularly impressive.
Other features such as four equipment loops and a choice of four colors, add to the appeal of this climbing harness, which is also very competitively priced for such a brand name.
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