A harness is another super important piece of your rock climbing equipment. With rock climbing harnesses we are looking for the perfect combination of safety and comfort. Of course, there are other aspects to it and you will be looking at different harnesses when single-pitch sport climbing, when hitting mainly big walls in Yosemite or Patagonia, or when using the harness for ski touring and mountaineering.
We do not have to talk too much about safety. Please, just make sure you always buy only certified harnesses made for rock climbing. Recently there has been some uncertified climbing equipment seen in those super cheap online shops from China, … There is no point saving a few dollars here. Rock climbing is a very cheap sport and saving money on safety gear does not make any sense.
How to fit your harness properly?
When you put the harness on, tie its waist belt around your waist (over the iliac crest). Tie it reasonably, there is no need to stop breathing and check if the belay loop and gear loops are symmetrically centered. See the photos below.
The leg loops need to be comfortable and do not need to be tight around the waist. You should be able to put your flat hand between the harness and your leg.
What to look for when buying a harness?
Sport climbing harness - when sport climbing hard single pitches where the performance is the key and where you won't be spending hours or days hanging in the anchors you can easily drop a bit from the comfort side and add to the performance. What we are saying is that you can go for a thin and lightweight harness which won’t be much comfy when hanging too long in it. However, it still needs to provide comfort and allow you full movement when climbing. Less you feel you have the harness on, the better.
You can also assume that you do not need so many gear loops on your sport climbing harness as all you need to carry is a bunch of quickdraws and two loops, one on each side will be enough.
Here are our tips for cool sport climbing harnesses:
Multipitch and Big Wall harness - on other hand for multipitch and big wall rock climbing you mainly have to consider you will be spending a lot of time hanging in it on the wall. So we are looking for a bit more robust harness with a thicker waist and leg loops and a bit more padding. Weight won’t be that big issue but of course, you still look for a good balance that will work for you the best.
For longer multi-pitches or big wall climbing you will also carry much more gear so it is quite important to have enough space on your harness for it. Here you want at least 4 tough gear loops.
Here is a tip from Rockbustrers for cool multipitch or big wall harnesses from our partner Singing Rock: