Are you one of the 25 million people worldwide who regularly enjoy rock climbing?
Whether you’ve been climbing for decades or you just completed your first climbing course, you won’t get anywhere without the right rock climbing harness.
Even if you start out renting or borrowing from friends, eventually you’ll want to invest in your equipment. With so many options out there, though, how do you know what type of rock climbing harness is best for you?
In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to select the best rock climbing harness.
Harness Selection Tips
1. Safety First
Over 40,000 people went to the emergency room for climbing related injuries between 1990 and 2007.
Don’t add to that number in the next batch of statistics. Even though climbing gear is getting safer every year, your top priority should still be keeping yourself safe at all times.
If you’re climbing mainly at an indoor rock gym, a top-roping harness is likely your best choice. It’s designed to keep you safe and comfortable while hanging, belaying, and clipping to fixed bolts.
What if you’re venturing out into traditional cragging or multi-pitch climbing? Since there are no fixed bolts on your climbing routes, you’ll have more equipment to carry with you. Look for a harness with large enough gear loops to safely carry everything you need.
2. The Right Size & Fit
The best rock climbing harness in the world won’t work for you if it doesn’t fit correctly.
Since everybody is uniquely shaped, your best bet is to visit your local gear shop and try on different harnesses. Pay close attention to where the harness rests on your body and how it feels when you move.
For instance, is it more comfortable for the harness to rest on your hips or your waist? It shouldn’t be too loose or too snug–you should be able to slip a few fingers between yourself and the harness.
What about the leg loops? They shouldn’t be quite as snug as the waist belt, but they should sit comfortably against your legs without restricting movement.
A final size feature to consider is the rise of the harness or the distance between the waist and the back of the leg loops. If the loops are too high, you’ll fall back when you hang. If they’re too low, your hips will absorb too much shock when you land (ouch).
3. Added Features
A final factor to consider when selecting a climbing harness is any extra features you might need.
Do you need extra gear loops for outdoor climbing or cragging? Haul loops or ice clipper slots are invaluable if you do (or plan to do) any outdoor climbing or ice climbing.
Some harnesses also come with extra safety features like a wear indicator to let you know when it’s time for a replacement.
While none of these extra features are mandatory, they could make the difference in selecting the best rock climbing harness for your needs.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Rock Climbing Harness
No matter which rock climbing harness you choose, safety and comfort should be your top priorities.
Of course, having the right equipment is only part of staying safe while climbing. It also takes a proactive approach to avoiding injuries and protecting your body while you climb.