How to Tie a Swiss Seat

How to Tie a Swiss Seat
A Swiss seat is an impromptu climbing harness that can be tied out of webbing or even rope. It's not terribly comfortable, but it will allow you to rappel, belay someone else or be put on belay yourself in an emergency. Because you need only about 10 feet of rope or webbing to tie a Swiss seat, it's also much lighter to carry and takes up much less space than carrying a typical climbing harness would.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • 10 feet of 1-inch flat webbing
  • 10 feet of 1-inch flat webbing
Step 1
Use overhand knots on bights of rope to tie two leg loops in the middle of the webbing, 4 or 5 inches apart. The loops should be big enough to fit over your thighs comfortably--they shouldn't impair your circulation or pinch your legs--but there should also be as little slack in them as possible.
Step 2
Step into the leg loops and pull the webbing up to the top of your thighs. There should be a long piece of webbing hanging from each leg loop; pull each piece of webbing through the front of the opposite leg loop and out the other side.
Step 3
Wrap the webbing pieces around your waist in opposite directions; they should each continue in the direction you started wrapping them in. Cross the webbing pieces behind you and continue wrapping them around your waist in opposite directions until you have about a foot of webbing left on each piece.
Step 4
Secure the two webbing pieces together with a water knot. There should be a tail of at least several inches left over in each piece of webbing once the knot is tied. If you don't have a bare minimum of 3 inches of "tail" left over, you need to untie the knot, undo one wrap of the webbing around your body and then tie the knot again.
Step 5
Keep a close eye on the water knot. While it is a good knot to secure flat webbing, it tends to "creep"--slowly untie itself--when repeatedly weighted and unweighted.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure you use rope or webbing that is intended for climbing; avoid using old auto seat belts, cotton rope or other light materials if at all possible.
Climbing is a dangerous sport. Always seek expert guidance and a supervisor until you're completely sure of what you're doing. Always double-check your knots, no matter how many times you've tied them before, and continuously check to make sure the water knot on your Swiss seat is still secure.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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