January 24, 2022

How Should a Climbing Harness Fit?

by Brad

Table of Contents

How to size a climbing harness?

It is essential to know the dimensions of a climbing harness before you purchase one. The size of a harness is measured in inches and centimeters. A general rule of thumb is that if you are 5 feet or taller, then you should be using a harness size M or L. If you are under 5 feet, then an S-type climbing harness will work best for you.

The following are some standard measurements for different types of full-body climbing harnesses:

  • A youth climbing harness usually measures from 12 to 16 inches around the chest and from 34 to 38 centimeters around the hips.
  • An intermediate-sized harness will measure from 16 to 20 inches around the chest, measuring between 38 and 42 centimeters around the hips.
  • The largest size, which is often used by professional climbers, measures from 20 to 24 inches around the chest and will be up to 48 centimeters around the hips.

What is a climbing harness made of?

A climbing harness is made up of two main components: a waist belt and leg loops. The waist belt is the most important part of the harness because it distributes the force across the back, hips, and legs. The leg loops are placed around each leg in order to help distribute weight evenly.

The material used for a harness can vary depending on what type of climbing you are doing. For example, if you are rock climbing, you would use a lightweight material like nylon webbing, specifically, Nylon 66, or polyester because it will not stretch when under pressure from your body weight. If you are mountaineering, you will use thicker materials that can withstand more strain from rocks and ice than nylon or polyester.

How do I choose a harness that fits me well?

If you are a newbie to the world of harnessing, choosing the right one for you can be a daunting task. It is important to understand the different types of harnesses and how they work before making your purchase.

Harnesses come in different types:

  • Harnesses that have handles on both sides.
  • Harnesses with handles on one side only.
  • Harnesses with handles at both front and back.

How does the body fit into a climbing harness?

The body fits into a climbing harness in two different ways: it can be attached to the torso, or it can be attached to the waist and the tights. The first option is more common among beginners because it’s easier to attach and detach, but it doesn’t provide as much support.

How tight does the climbing harness need to be?

Ideally, your harness should fit around your hips snug enough to prevent sliding down yet loose enough to prevent hot spots or pressure points. When fitted correctly, leg loops should fit between your leg and up to four fingers (flat). However, they should be loose enough to allow a full range of motion.

Do climbing harnesses stretch?

A climbing harness doesn’t stretch, but it feels much looser when you weigh it. If it’s already loose, it will feel looser when you use it. You might lose weight too.

How do you know if your climbing harness fits?

The harness waist belts should fit around your Iliac Crest and not pull down. Buckles should be adjusted halfway through their range and not maxed out at either end. Leg loops should be comfortable but not too tight.

How do I know if my climbing harness is too small?

When the harness is too small, a small amount of tail will stick out past the buckle, so when winter arrives, and you are bundled up in a warm jacket, the harness won’t be loose enough to fit over your winter layers.

Is my climbing harness too big?

You can check if your harness is too big by sticking your hand in between your body and the harness, making a fist, and then pulling your fist out. Your harness should also be within an inch or two of your navel.

How much weight can a climbing harness hold?

For a rock-climbing harness to be certified by the UIAA, it must hold a minimum of 15kN of force (or 3,300 lbs of force) at the belay loop and 10kN (or 2,200 lbs of force) at the waistbelt. Due to their dynamic nature, climbing harnesses are rated for force rather than weight.

How is an ideal harness designed?

An ideal harness is designed for the specific activity it is meant for. For example, a climbing harness is designed to be attached to a rope and allow the user to climb. It should also be comfortable and durable.

An ideal harness can also be used in different ways than its original intended use. For example, a climbing harness can also be used as an emergency life-saving device by attaching it to a pole in order to rappel down a cliff or mountain.

Harnesses come in different shapes and sizes, depending on their intended use. This includes backpacks, waist belts, chest straps, leg loops, etcetera.

How to put on a fall protection harness?

Fall protection harnesses are designed to provide protection from falls in a safe and controlled manner. They are also designed to be easy to use so that anyone can put them on in a matter of seconds. Here is how to put a climbing harness.

Some fall protection harnesses come with instructions that tell you how to put them on, while others require you to watch a video or read the instructions online before using them. For the best understanding of how to put a fall protection harness, we suggest watching the following video.

YouTube video

What are the different types of climbing harnesses?

There are a wide variety of harness types that vary in terms of their design, materials, and intended use.

  • Gym/Sport harnesses. These harnesses are stripped down for ultralight, fast travel. They are suitable for outdoor and indoor sports routines.
  • Mountaineering/alpine harnesses. These harnesses are suitable for all seasons. They have adjustable leg loops and are super lightweight.
  • Trad (traditional) harnesses. The gear required for trad climbing is generally larger and heavier than what is required for sport climbing. Hence, a trad harness maximizes space while still being relatively light and comfortable.
  • Specialized harnesses. These harnesses are created for other types of climbing – big wall, full-body, rescue, competition.
  • Mixed and ice harnesses: These harnesses are specially designed to deal with winter conditions.

A brief history of the climbing harnesses

The first recorded use of a climbing harness was by the Austrian mountaineer Christian Almer in 1858. It was a simple design made from leather and rope.

The modern-day climbing harness is a complex piece of equipment with many parts. The materials used to make it include metal, plastic, and nylon. A Dutch climber from the late nineteenth century named Jeanne Immink is primarily credited with the invention of the climbing harness as a climbing safety device. Immink’s harnesses weren’t much like those used today.

In addition to the first modern harnesses, Troll made some of the first climbing nuts, rappelling rope descenders, and slings. In Yosemite, climbers began adapting swami belts for greater comfort and versatility. Stitching eventually replaced the knots, and the modern harness we use today was born. 

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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