Outfitting your child with an appropriate, well-fitting harness is essential for safe climbing, both outdoors and in a climbing gym. Children's harnesses are specially tailored for small frames and offer added safety features. The age and size of your child are important factors in choosing between a waist-belt, full-body or chest harness.
Children age eight and above will enjoy climbing with their own waist-belt harness, such as the Black Diamond Equipment Wiz Kid Harness. These harnesses are similar to those worn by adult climbers but are constructed on a smaller scale and offer additional safety features. Children's harnesses typically feature non-opening waist clasps and auto-locking buckles that eliminate the need to double back the straps. Waist belts and leg loops are padded to make climbing comfortable for youngsters, and leg loops are often color-coded to make them easy to put on. Gear loops give children the opportunity to manage a small amount of gear or wear their own chalk bags.
For climbers younger than eight, full-body harnesses provide extra stability and offer a higher tie-in point to keep the child upright in case of a fall. When choosing a full-body harness, look for one that has the adjustment buckles on the back, where they are out of reach of the climber. These include the Petzl Kid's Ouistiti Harness. Bi-colored webbing (black on the inside, colored on the outside) makes it easy for smaller climbers to slip into this harness, which also features auto-locking buckles. Full-body harnesses are also a good choice for any beginning climber or for an older child who does not yet have the well-defined hips necessary to wear a waist-belt harness.
Chest harnesses are another smart option for new or smaller climbers. A chest harness is worn in conjunction with a waist-belt harness, giving an additional tie-in point that will help keep the climber upright during a fall. CAMP's Bambino Kids' chest harness features crossover back straps and a tie-in point with an adjustable height, allowing for practical adjustment and a fully customized fit. As the climber grows and becomes more comfortable climbing, the chest harness can be retired.