How to Tie a Rapelling Harness Out of Rope

How to Tie a Rapelling Harness Out of Rope
The invention of modern climbing harnesses in the late 1960s changed the way climbers tied into the rope for ascending and descending. Before climbing harnesses, climbers tied directly into the rope with a bowline on a coil, or made simple harnesses themselves out of a piece of webbing or rope. Making your own harness can be a way to save weight or improvise in an emergency if something happens to your harness.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Tie the Leg Loops

Things You’ll Need:
  • 22 feet of one-inch tubular webbing OR
  • 22 feet of 6 mm rope
Step 1
Start by tying the leg loops. Go about 4.5 feet in from one end and form a loop that is just bigger than your thighs; take into account clothing, especially if this harness is for winter use over heavier Gore-Tex pants. Tie the loop in place with an overhand knot, then go another six inches from the first loop and tie a second overhand leg loop with an overhand knot.
Step 2
Step into the leg loops, with the long end of the webbing or rope on the left side of your body. Wrap the webbing rope around your waist once, going around your left hip first, and pass the end under the overhand knot of the left leg loop.
Step 3
Continue wrapping the rope or webbing around your waist, and on the second pass, thread it under the overhand knot of the right leg loop, then wrap the long end once more around your back, going from the left hip, so that it comes out by your right hip.
Step 4
Take the short end of the webbing or rope, and wrap it around your right hip, around your back and out past your left hip.
Step 5
Tie the two ends of the rope or webbing together with a water knot for webbing or a double fisherman's knot for rope. Make sure the waist belt is snug.

Tips & Warnings

Before committing to the harness on a full rappel, test it on the ground by clipping the rope to a piece of protection like a nut or camming device placed into a crack near the ground and clipping into the harness and hanging on it. You can also throw the rope over a tree branch if one is available and do the same test. Make sure that the knots stay in place and don't slip and that the harness remains snug around your waist.

Article Written By Candace Horgan

Candace Horgan has worked as a freelance journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Denver Post" and "Mix." Horgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and history.

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