December 4, 2020

How to Tie a Swiss Seat Harness? (10 Steps Instructions)

by Bernice

Let us now discuss the most ancient emergency Swiss Seat harness for rappelling purposes.

Irrespective of a rappeller’s skills, it is the most critical equipment for a climber’s safety.

I am obsessed with protection and always want to talk about it.

Today, I was exploring different ways to improve climbing safety.

I wanted to talk about a few safety tips.

Suddenly, I realized that it is high time to introduce the Swiss Seat to my readers.

It has immense possibilities of saving the lives of several rappellers.

I want to mention here that this type of harness for an emergency is not quite famous these days.

People now depend mostly on a standard rappel harness.

Incidentally, if you are interested to learn about a rappel harness, you should check my detailed guide here.

This harness guide also tells you the procedure to choose a suitable one for you.

Let us assume that you don’t have the harness equipment, and all of a sudden, you feel that you need to do rappelling in an emergency.

If we talk about emergency rappel knots, the Swiss Seat is among the most ancient ones.

It can never offer the exact level of protection as a traditional harness.

Still, it can potentially save your life for sure. It is not all that difficult to tie a Swiss Seat.

However, if you make a mistake in any part, it can wind up badly.

Table of Contents
How to tie a swiss seat harness
How to Tie a Swiss Seat Harness? (10 Steps Instructions)

What Is a Swiss Seat Harness?

The Swiss Seat is a harness that serves as an emergency rappelling harness. The Swiss Seat is also called a rappel seat. A carabiner and 12 ft of rope are commonly included in survival and E&E kits to tie a Swiss Seat Harness in an emergency rappelling situation.

Swiss Seat Harness History

It is perhaps impossible to find out about the place where it was invented.

However, this knot is about a few hundred years old.

When general rappel equipment was not available, people used to adopt creative methods to climb down safely.

A few rappel techniques were evolved. Some of them used only the strings.

A guide was written by me recently about rappelling techniques.

You can refer to my rappelling ropes guide to find out more about such methods.

Please ensure to go through it once if you want to know more.

Rappellers have tried to use several webbed harnesses.

Among them, two such tackles were quite different from the others.

These two are the Swami Belt and the Swiss Seat. 

Both of them have pros and cons.

However, the swiss option became more famous than the other one.

I don’t mean that the Swami Belt disappeared into nowhere.

What Is the Difference between a Swiss Seat and Swami Belt?

At first look, the Swiss Seat feels a little extra comforting than the Swami Belt.

Perhaps it is more dependable on an overall basis.

However, some rappellers chose the Swami belt over the other one.

Here are some of the reasons.

  • Perhaps, the Swami Belt distributes the force in a better way. However, it boils down to two things. Firstly, the strength of your drop, and secondly, the kind of string or web you use.
  • The pulling point of the Swami Belt is located over the center of gravity of a climber. It helps the climber to remain straight during the descent.
  • Some rappellers believe that the Swami belt can be quickly tied since it needs many wraps about your waist.
  • In the case of using a two-inch tubular web, it has comparatively less weight.

There are noticeable differences in the design of both types.

During the descent, the Swiss Seat divides maximum force to the rappeller’s legs.

Similarly, the Swami Belt puts the weight on the rappeller’s waist.

Finally, it depends upon you which type of design is suited for you.

What Materials Do You Need to Tie a Swiss Seat Harness?

YUZENET Braided Polyester Arborist Rigging Rope (3/8 inch X 100 feet) High Strength Outdoor Rope for Rock Climbing Hiking Camping Swing, ArmyGreen
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YUZENET Braided Polyester Arborist Rigging Rope (3/8 inch X 100 feet) High Strength Outdoor Rope for Rock Climbing Hiking Camping Swing, ArmyGreen
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  • 【Property】-Excellent resistance to moisture, UV rays. the rope is also flexible enough for operator to easy make knots.
Locking Climbing Carabiners Heavy Duty - Favofit UIAA Certified 25KN (5620 lbs) Rock Climbing Clips for Climbers - Large Caribeaner as Firefighter Safety Survival Gear Equipment
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Locking Climbing Carabiners Heavy Duty - Favofit UIAA Certified 25KN (5620 lbs) Rock Climbing Clips for Climbers - Large Caribeaner as Firefighter Safety Survival Gear Equipment
  • UIAA Certified Reliability: Trust in our UIAA-certified climbing carabiners (Certificat No.: USA 21-6012), built to secure you with a 5620 lbs strength. From climbing to mountaineering and rappelling, conquer any challenge with unwavering confidence on even the most demanding terrains.
  • Advanced Secure Locking: Our innovative twistlock locking carabiner clip offers quick, one-handed operation, guaranteeing you a secure connection. Perfect for speedy transitions between belays, rappels, and anchor setups, enhancing your efficiency.
  • Exceptional Lightweight: Experience the perfect balance of strength and weight with these strong carbineers, designed to reduce fatigue during long climbs or treks. Ideal for alpine ascents, multi-pitch climbs, and expeditions where every ounce counts.
GM CLIMBING 1 inch MIL-W-5625 Nylon Tubular Webbing Milspecs 4000Lbs Durable for Outdoor Tactical Parachute Climbing Rescue Survival Tie Down 1 inch x 30Ft / 10 Yards Camo Green 483
180 Reviews
GM CLIMBING 1 inch MIL-W-5625 Nylon Tubular Webbing Milspecs 4000Lbs Durable for Outdoor Tactical Parachute Climbing Rescue Survival Tie Down 1 inch x 30Ft / 10 Yards Camo Green 483
  • MIL-W-5625 Milspecs Nylon Tubular Webbing by GM CLIMBING, 1 inch wide to withstand over 4000lb / 17.8kN breaking strength, made out of 100% nylon 6.6 for excellent durability and toughness. Favored by climbers, rescue specialists, and outdoorsmen in the military, parachute, and tough outdoor applications, making a wide variety of straps, slings, anchor systems, tactical gears, parachute static lines, shot bags, heavy-duty tie-downs, lashing, and more.
  • 4000Lb Strong and Durable! Tough and durable nylon 6.6 made to obtain exceptional resistance to abrasion, UV, mildew and most chemicals, highly adaptive to outdoor uses, and keeping a long use life. Yielding high strength of 4000Lbs, the webbing is made for applications requiring heavy-duty webbing, from setting anchor systems to general cargo tie-down.
  • EASY to KNOT and STITCH! Tubular webbing is flexible and exceptionally excellent in holding knots, compared to common flat webbing. Simple and neat Overhand-on-a-bight knot to form a loop and end, ready for you to set a choker hitch anchor; water knot to join two ends of the webbing to make a versatile sling. The fine and tight weave allows the webbing to be easy to stitch and make slings, ladders, dog leash, guitar strap, compression straps, etc.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

  • The materials needed to tie a Swiss seat harness are two lengths of rope or cord, a carabiner, and a length of webbing.
  • The two lengths of rope or cord should be the same length and at least 12 feet long.
  • The carabiner should be large enough to accommodate the rope or cord.
  • The length of webbing should be at least 8 feet long.

How to Secure a Swiss Seat Harness (Rappel Seat)?

Generally speaking, you must keep a standard survival kit.

It may include a string of twelve feet and a carabiner.

You can say that such a kit is the raw material for making a simple rappel seat or emergency rappel harness.

If you have a waist size of more than 32 inches, you will require a little extra length of the string.

Hence, it is crucial to practice tying the rappel seat.

That way, you will know the length of the cord you need according to your waist size.

Also, please ensure to have sufficient rope length to tie the square knot for your Swiss Seat.

YouTube video

How to Tie a Swiss Seat Harness in 10 Steps

  1. Firstly, you will be required to find the middle point of the string roughly.
  2. After that, hold the bight by your left hip. We assume that you mostly use your right hand. You would prefer to keep it on the opposite side of your brake hand. 
  3. Drop that right now. Wrap the string on the waist. Please check that one end of the cord must be longer. 
  4. Now, you should make an overhand knot and a second wrap on any side. Ensure that the running ends are hanging free.
  5. Pull those ends through your legs and back. Squatting will make everything tighter.
  6. Feed each side up and behind the waist. It will create a half hitch for locking.
  7. Now, you make a square knot by your side where you initially began-backup this knot with an overhand knot on both ends.
  8. Still, if any cord is left, push it into your pocket. Please note to use a smaller rope next time.
  9. Link the carabiner through the earlier wrap of the Swiss Seat. Repeat this for square knot wrap also.
  10. Ensure that the gate faces you. Or else, it will keep rubbing the cord.

Let us hope that you are not confused.

I have researched this thoroughly and got an exciting video.

Here you can watch every step in full detail.

I believe that a visual feel is crucial to learning to tie any knot or an emergency harness.

Is the Swiss Seat Harness Comfortable?

No, the Swiss Seat Harness does not provide much comfort.

It is not very pleasing for men too.

But comparatively, it provides enough support while dropping down.

This is precisely the reason why rappelers and their trainers choose it.

A lot of slack may be generated by the time you finish making it.

It will depend upon the cord length.

The excess margin may be a little uncomfortable to some people.

Therefore, I usually suggest my readers tie the harness and practice it many times.

Potential rappellers should do so before using it in a real emergency. 

How to Tie a Hasty Harness?

The hasty harness is a type of harness that is used to secure a person to the ground or some other object.

It is typically used when someone needs to be secured in an area where there is the potential for them to fall.

To tie a hasty harness, you need two lengths of rope, one that will wrap around the waist and another that will wrap around the chest.

Tie each length of rope in a knot at each end and then tie them together in the center.

Use this knot as your starting point and continue tying knots until you have reached your desired level of security.

To Summarize: How to Tie a Swiss Seat Harness

You can rely on the Swiss Seat for an emergency rappel harness.

Moreover, it is easier to tie this knot.

At the repetition cost, I would remember to use this knot only as a last resort.

Nowadays, several affordable options are available to rappellers.

All these options offer a comfortable and safe rappelling experience.

Swiss Seat is still used by military people for providing training to their staff and even for real-life rescue operations.

They use it for rappelling in an emergency scenario.

Moreover, people also use the Swiss Seat for transporting injured people to safe places.

Such harnesses are used by skilled rappellers.

Therefore I will never suggest beginners try it.

You can mostly rappel with it, but it can endanger your life if you make mistakes in any step.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Roger

About the author


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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