When to Retire a Harness

When to Retire a Harness
A harness is a crucial piece of equipment for a climber. If a harness fails, the chances of surviving a fall are slim. Knowing exactly when to retire a harness can be the difference between life and death. However, harnesses can also be expensive and should only be replaced when needed to avoid offending the pocketbook. Luckily, deciphering the exact moment to retire a harness is a fairly easy process. With a keen eye you can be safe without spending the extra money.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Retire a harness after every serious fall. Each time you free-fall for several feet before being caught, your harness undergoes extreme stress. This increased stress can permanently damage a harness, making it unusable.
Step 2
Examine your harness frequently. Not only will this allow you to catch any flaws quickly, it also familiarizes you with your harness so you notice any changes instantly. Check the harness between outings and after any potentially harmful hit or fall.
Step 3
Look closely at the stitching to ensure that all the stitches are solid and holding. Once a stitch begins to fall out at a key point, a chain reaction can occur that leaves you vulnerable to disaster.
Step 4
Check for any large abrasions in the harness fabric. Occasionally a few good slams into the side of the wall can cut into the material, leaving it weakened. If you don't see any blemishes, run your hand across any susceptible areas. Occasionally these gashes are more easily felt than seen.
Step 5
Switch out your harness every two years for average weekend use and more often for frequent use. This ensures optimal safety. Even without obvious wear, a harness can slowly degrade over time.

Tips & Warnings

Many of a harness's gear loops will begin to appear fuzzy after several uses. This is normal, and, unless the loops appear frail, there is no cause for concern.
Always err on the side of caution: If you suspect you need a new harness, get one.

Article Written By Heather Rutherford

Heather Rutherford has enjoyed writing professionally since 2004. Her articles have appeared in ModernMom.com, DailyLife.com, ParentsHut.com, Trails.com and On-the-News. She also works intimately with several small businesses to prepare business plans and other marketing materials. Rutherford is seeking an Associate of Arts in business from North Idaho College.

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