How to Choose a Rock Climbing Harness

How to Choose a Rock Climbing Harness
A good, safe harness is one of those things a climber cannot do without. When worn properly, it secures the climber to the entire climbing system. There are dozens of companies that make harnesses, and there are dozens of types of harnesses. Though it's not tricky business, it's a good idea to really put some thought and research into your first purchase.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Gear guides from Climbing magazine or Rock & Ice magazine
  • Gear guides from Climbing magazine or Rock & Ice magazine
Step 1
Figure out the type of climbing you will predominantly be doing: sport, mountaineering, traditional, artificial aid or indoor. This will determine the sort of padding you need, how light or heavy you want it to be, what sort of gear loops it has and whether it is adjustable, among other things.
Step 2
Research the various options available at your local outdoor store, read gear guides, and ask friends and employees at your local rock gym about their harnesses. Additionally, learn about the different components of a harness so you know what you need for the type of climbing you are doing.
Step 3
Visit your local outdoor store, climbing gym or friends' houses, and try on as many harnesses as possible. If possible, go to a climbing event and use different harnesses. Walk around in them and hang in them for at least a few minutes. If possible, climb with them on, practicing how you move over the rock and the motions of clipping carabiners to the gear loops.
Step 4
Determine the harness that is the best fit for you. Gear guides can be very helpful and informative, but each person has a different body shape, and various harnesses are designed to fit differently.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure to hang in your harness before you buy it. That's really the time when having a good or bad harness will be most noticeable. If it constricts you in any way or digs in where it shouldn't, consider a different harness.
Don't buy used harnesses unless you are positive they are new. Also, retire your harness once it starts to fray. Be particularly careful to check your belay loop. They have been known to fail when overused.

Article Written By Lizzy Scully

Lizzy Scully is a senior contributing editor for Mountain Flyer magazine and the executive director of the nonprofit Girls Education International. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from University of Utah and Master of Science in journalism from Utah State University.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.