April 2, 2020

Rappelling Harness vs Climbing Harness: Are There Differences?

by Roger

Let’s figure out for once one debate, the rappelling harness vs climbing harness question. Is there any difference between a rappelling harness and a climbing harness? Well, rock climbing and rappelling are really two different sides of the same coin, but they are not the same thing.

Rappelling involves going down from the top of a cliff, mountain, waterfall, tree, or cave, whereas rock climbing involves going up. However, there is a bit more to it than that, and you really cannot do one of these things without knowing how to do the other.

Let’s first talk about what rock climbing is and what rappelling is, and then we can figure out this whole rappelling harness vs climbing harness issue.

Just to provide you with a little hint here, there might in fact not be any difference between the two at all! In case you are wondering which harness to buy – the one for climbing or the one for rappelling.


Table of Contents

What Does Rock Climbing Involve?

Rock climbing is of course a sport that involves climbing up a rock face or cliff but also involves climbing down on occasion. It is a very demanding sport, and you can read who invented rock climbing and how did it happen.

This is true physically, because to rock climb you have to be in peak physical condition, and it requires a whole lot of mental toughness. There are actually about a dozen different types or styles of rock climbing

There is also the fact that of these rock climbing types, the vast majority use a climbing harness. Some people do free solo climbing, but of course, this is extremely risky.

ROCK CLIMBING

What Does Rappelling Involve?

Rappelling, unlike rock climbing, is the downward motion off a cliff, or in other words, you are lowering yourself down a rock face.

Most rock climbers who get to the top also need to come down, and for this, most will just use the climbing harness. Now, let’s go over a very important point here. There is no difference between the rappelling and climbing harness.

Yes, they are the exact same thing, with the only difference being whether you are going up or down. Ok, so the fact of the matter is that the rappelling harness vs climbing harness debate is indeed pointless because they are the same thing.

However, with that said, to ensure that you are safe and secure, you still want to get the right harness for the job.

So, Is There a Difference between a Rappelling and a Climbing Harness?

There you have it, there isn’t any difference between a rappelling harness vs climbing harness. The only difference is that rappelling means going down while climbing is going up. Just ensure that you have a high-quality harness that fits right and is in good condition.

Top 5 Climbing and Rappelling Harnesses

This is a list of the five highly-rated harnesses used for climbing and rappelling.

Black Diamond Equipment - Men's Momentum Harness Package - Anthracite - Large
237 Reviews
Black Diamond Equipment - Men's Momentum Harness Package - Anthracite - Large
  • Momentum harness
  • ATC-XP belay/rappel device
  • Rocklock Screwgate locking carabiner
Sale
Black Diamond Equipment - Women's Momentum Harness - Aqua Verde - X-Small
122 Reviews
Black Diamond Equipment - Women's Momentum Harness - Aqua Verde - X-Small
  • Pre-threaded Speed Adjust waistbelt buckle
  • Bullhorn-shaped waistbelt built using Dual Core Construction
  • trakFIT adjustment for easy leg loop customization

Last update on 2022-05-25 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2022-05-25 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

What to Look for Before You Choose the Right Climbing and Rappelling Harness?

So, let’s talk about some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a climbing or rappelling harness.

Below we have listed the factors that you will want to pay close attention to when choosing the rappelling harness vs climbing harness.

The Material

First, you want to pay attention to what material the harness is made of. It absolutely needs to be made of very strong and durable materials.

The best and most commonly used material for climbing and rappelling harnesses is nylon, as it is super tough, nearly impossible to rip, and is the most reliable option to go with in general. 

It also does not absorb water or get damaged if it gets wet. Another good choice to go with is polyester, although most would recommend nylon. But a harness won’t last forever, you should also know when to replace your climbing/rappelling harness.

The Size

Another very important thing to keep in mind before making a purchase is the size of the harness. One that is too small won’t fit right and will crush your legs and private parts.

On the other hand, one that is too large will not hold you securely and may cause you to slip through it.

For the best support, the climbing or rappelling harness needs to fit snugly over your iliac crest and it should be very snug so it cannot be pulled down.

If the buckle is at the max, pick a larger size, and if it is at its minimum, go with something smaller. They do come in one-size-fits-all models, but this is not recommended.

Its Condition

The other thing that you always want to pay attention to is the condition of the harness. Never buy a cheap secondhand harness and always make sure you buy a quality one.

Even the smallest of frays mean that your harness is no longer usable. This is meant for safety, so only harnesses in the best of best conditions can be used.

Rappelling Harness vs Climbing Harness

What are the Individual Parts of a Climbing and Rappelling Harness?

There are different types of climbing and rappelling harnesses. While some harnesses offer more functionality than others, all quality harnesses should include at least these five segments.

  • Haul loop. The haul loop is located at the rear of the waistbelt, it serves one very important purpose: supporting extra gear such as a haul line or extra rope. You should never use the haul loop to carry loads, as this may be dangerous.
  • Leg loops. Additionally, leg loops are very important, as they provide support and control. Legs should go through the loops, which should include adjustable straps. A rappelling harness has leg loops that are connected to a waist belt, enhancing overall stability.
  • Gear loops. Gear loops, as the name suggests, are designed to carry small pieces of (small) gear including carabiners. Thus, you should never put any weight on these loops, as this could seriously injure you.
  • Waist belt and buckle. A series of straps and buckles help you adjust the rappelling harness to your individual needs. A waist belt can hold quite a bit of weight, and it is very strong. There’s generally an off-center buckle on the harness, which is a good thing because it won’t rub against the rope that’s tied in front.
  • Belay and tie-in loops. Belay loops are the strongest part of the harness, as they can bear the most weight. Both tie-in loops are connected to the belay loop at the front of the harness.

What is Tactical Rappelling Harness?

A tactical rappelling harness is a straightforward one-size-fits-all harness with buckles and an all-black web. The low-profile style ensures a comfortable, tight grip that may be worn all day or fast when you need it.

They are designed for vertical entry in various contexts, including maritime, rescue, helicopter rappelling, urban, and mountain.

Fusion Tactical Duty Belt 23KN Griffin Military Police Half Body Search Rescue Harness, Black, Medium
  • Emergency and search/rescue harness
  • Wear it as a duty belt, then simply open the inner-front Velcro pouch and clip the leg loops to air evac or rappel in a heartbeat
  • Features 3 award-winning high-strength, quick-release adf raptor buckles (18 KN) on legs/waist

Last update on 2022-05-25 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

What is a Military Rappelling Harness?

A military rappelling harness is designed for long-hanging military situations such as emergency rappelling. It’s fully adjustable and padded. The 5-inch wide belt is comfortable. It is anatomically tapered for comfort and flexibility.

The waist belt extends 4-6 inches to fit over heavy vests or gear or suit cold-weather garments. The Camlock clip closure method provides extra security and avoids the need for two-pass buckles.

For simple attaching, the racking process utilizes large-diameter encased tubing. The wide, cushioned leg loops are fully versatile with quick-adjust fasteners to fit various sizes. A new level of versatility and comfort in military harnesses. 

How to Tie a Rappelling Harness?

You tie a rappelling harness by finding the rope center and folding half. Put the fold at your lower back center, with the ends extending out to either side of the body, giving you an equal distance in every hand.

Then you fold the halves around your waist and cross them in front of you and pull the untied ends behind you via your legs with both hands around the outside of your legs. While you squat, pull down on these.

Lower it through your back and move it behind the rope length that hugs your bum, from back to front, while keeping tension on the open end. Make a square knot off-center to the body to join the two sides.

As a keeper knot, form a half knot with every free end. If you have one and the tie is on the left, tuck any extra rope away in a deep left pocket; cargo pants are ideal here. The harness is now well tied.

How to Make a Rappelling Harness?

You make a rappelling harness by wrapping the rope around the upper thigh and attaching the first leg, making a bowline knot, then tying a second bowline around the opposite leg.

Pass the lengthy end via the crosspiece and around the back, make the harness more durable, and then make a square knot between the two sides. It would help if you backed up both sides.

How to Make a Rope Rappelling Harness?

To make a rope rappelling harness, attach a carabiner to the crosspiece using a clip and make sure your harness is in good working order.

The crosspiece should be solid enough to support your weight by pulling up on it. There’s no space between the rope loops and your thighs for more than two fingers.

Make a strong connection to something solid. Tie the rappelling and climbing rope to something strong enough to support your entire weight without breaking or bending.

How to Put on a Rappelling Harness?

You put on a rappelling harness by first loosening the buckles on the leg-loop and waist belt buckles and straightening out any twists in the leg-loops or waist belt. Then, step into your harness by going via the waist belt and into the leg loops, then pulling the harness up around your body.

Fasten the buckles on the waist belt and leg loops and ensure that each buckle is double-backed appropriately. Check to make sure there are no twists in the buckles and that they are all double-backed.

How Does a Rappelling Harness Work?

Rappelling harness works by connecting to the rope so that it creates friction; the exact technique varies from device to device. The rappel device connects to your harness and keeps you attached to the rope.

  • The rope swings over the cliff’s edge, creating a trail to the base.
  • The rappel device is attached to the rope and enables you to adjust the rope’s velocity as it passes through and the pace of your descent.
  • The rappel device is connected to your harness.
  • You fasten your harness to your body. You’re now ready to lower the rope.

How to Make a Rappelling Harness out of Webbing? 

You make a rappelling harness out of webbing by making a loose water knot using one side of the webbing. Enter the loose webbing end into the tie and trace the curves to complete the knot. Tie the knot as tight as you can. The two webbing opposite ends should come out on opposite ends of the knot.

Put one webbing strand above the hips and another underneath the hips as you wrap the webbing around your back. Then pull the lowest webbing strand forward between your legs. Connect the three webbing strands in front of your body at the center of the stomach with a locking carabiner.

Related Article: Best Lightweight Climbing Harnesses

How to Set a Rope in a Rappelling Harness?

To set a rope in a rappelling harness, note that the level of safety provided by tying in using an eight-figure knot or securing a rope with a carabiner is not quite the same; the decision you make is based on the situation.

When it comes to setting a rope to a harness, an eight-figure knot is the finest option. It’s the tried-and-true solution, with powerful pull in all dimensions, even in a fall with external or rotation impacts.

Furthermore, if the eight-figure knot is made correctly, the chances of unraveling are almost none. When there is a risk of falling and a lack of redundancy, a knot is recommended: rope access, climbing, roped progression.

What are Dog Rappelling Harnesses? 

Dog rappelling harnesses are made to wrap over your dog’s neck and secure it in position with straps that run under its neck and around its rear leg.

The top of the harness has a reinforced grip to link your pet’s harness to your own. The harnesses are available in various sizes, and the buckles are adjustable for even more customization. Read our entire guide on the best dog rappelling harnesses.

What are Full-body Rappelling Harnesses?

Full-body rappelling harnesses are important in the event of a crash from a height. You use a full-body harness to keep the user upright.

A complete body harness, if fitted appropriately, will uniformly spread the energy produced during free-fall all across the user’s body, lowering the risk of major damage.

OneTigris Full Metal Buckled Tactical Dog Harness for Large Dogs No Pull Dog Harness Vest with Hook & Loop Panels, Military Adjustable Easy to Put On Dog Vest Dog for Walking Hiking Training
  • FULL Metal Buckles Tactical Dog Harness: Team 1TG’s first full metal buckled tactical harness,which can bear great pulling force, ensuring your dog is safely harnessed during training, hunting, working, and any other occasions. 5 metal buckles strength tested at 397lb/180kg for size M and 485lb/220kg for size L/XL.
  • Longer Length for a Snug Fit: ITG dog harness large breed specially designed snug-fit, zero-hindrance, easy on-and-off structure that doesn’t restrict shoulder and forearm movement with full adjustability to fit dogs of different ages, sizes and body builds
  • 3 Stainless Steel D-rings: No pull dog harness featured with 3 stainless steel D-rings at the front and rear with a chest attachment point for no-pull trainings.The 3 stainless steel D-rings gives the handler/owner various leash attachment options such as long leashes on the back for hikes and runs, front chest leashing for no-pull training and walks in more crowded areas.

Last update on 2022-05-25 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Rappelling Harness vs Climbing Harness: Conclusion

So, there you have it, there is actually not a single difference between a rappelling harness vs climbing harness. 

The only difference is that rappelling means going down while climbing is going up. Just ensure that you have a high-quality harness that fits right and is in good condition.

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Roger

Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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