Your harness puts in a lot of mileage. It’s there when you’re sitting at a hanging belay, taking a whipper, or sending a multi-pitch climb. It’s one of the most important pieces of gear in your kit. So it’s worth investing some time and money to make sure you have a good one.
The best climbing harness is as important as a competent climber, good belayer, and quality rope. It should be strong enough to perform after countless falls and catches, yet lightweight enough for you to climb without restriction. It also needs to be comfortable, flexible, and with all the necessary components to support your type of climbing. And it needs to fit well.
There are tons of harness options out there—from discipline-specific harnesses to male and female versions. It can be hard to sift through everything to find the perfect harness for your climbing style and body type. That’s why we’ve rounded up our top 10 best harnesses for you to start your search! But before we jump into the list, here’s a run-down of what features to look for when you’re shopping for your next harness.
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Table of Contents
- Climbing Harness Buyer’s Guide
- 10 Best Climbing Harnesses on the Market Review
- 1. Petzl Sama Climbing Harness - Best All-Around
- 2. Black Diamond Momentum - Best Harness for Beginners
- 3. Misty Mountain Silhouette - Best Women’s Harness
- 4. Mammut Zephir Altitude - Best Harness for Mountaineering
- 5. Black Diamond Solution - Best for Gym Climbing
- 6. Metolius Safe Tech All Around - Best for Big Wall Climbing
- 7. EDELRID Orion Climbing Harness - Best for Ice Climbing
- 8. EDELRID - Jay II Climbing Harness - Best Budget
- 9. Arc’teryx FL-365 - Best for Trad Climbing
- 10. EDELRID Fraggle II - Best for Kids
Climbing Harness Buyer’s Guide
The climbing harness had humble beginnings, starting first as a simple belt worn around the waist. This Swami Belt was invented by Yosemite climbers in the 1960s and was nothing more than loops of webbing made to form a belt. Thankfully, harness technology has improved a lot since then to include leg loops, gear loops, and other features to keep you safe and comfortable.
Today’s harnesses vary depending on what you’re looking for. Whether you’re a gym climber, sport climber, trad climber, or ice climber, there are certain features to look out for in your harness to make sure you have easier access to your gear and are better equipped for your send. You’ll also want to make sure your next harness is sized correctly and offers enough adjustability to fit you well.
First we’ll cover the most common features available on modern harnesses, then we’ll cover the different types. Finally, we’ll share some tips for choosing the correct size of harness.
The features on your harness will determine how comfortable you are on your climb. Depending on what type of climbing you do, you want to make sure that certain features are available to make your time on the wall easier and more organized. These are the most common harness features and times where you would want them on your harness.
Types of Harnesses
Nowadays, there are lots of different types of harness for each specific type of climbing. Although particular harnesses are marketed for specific disciplines, most can overlap and work for several types of climbing. While it may pay off to have dedicated harnesses for each climbing disciple you practice, most recreational climbers can get away with one good all-around harness.
How to Fit a Climbing Harness?
Now that you know which features and types of harnesses are out there, it’s important to make sure that the harness fits you correctly. It is critical that the harness is worn and sized correctly in order for it to perform as expected while you’re climbing.
The waistbelt should be high above your hips, near your belly-button. Tighten it securely, ensuring that there is no more than a 2-finger gap between your waist and harness. This ensures that you won’t slip out of the harness if you fall upside down.
If you have adjustable leg loops on your harness, you’ll also want to ensure they are snug. They don’t have to be super tight, as this can affect your comfort and mobility.
When you’re testing your harness, look for stores that have a harness testing station or a rock wall where you can hang on a rope while wearing the harness. This is the only way you can determine how comfortable it will be while you’re climbing. When the harness is weighted, you should be able to sit upright comfortably, and you shouldn’t feel any pressure points or digging from the waistbelt or leg loops. If this happens, you should consider trying out a different harness.
10 Best Climbing Harnesses on the Market Review
Now that you know what to look for in a climbing harness, let’s dive into the reviews! Here are the top 10 climbing harnesses on the market today.
1. Petzl Sama Climbing Harness - Best All-Around
The Petzl Sama performs well under most circumstances, which is why it landed the spot of best all-around harness. Whether you’re climbing in the gym, at a crag, or on multi-pitch routes, this harness will not disappoint. It’s one of the comfiest harnesses on the market, and remains comfortable even after falling or hanging for extended periods of time. The design allows for freedom of movement and features four gear loops that offer plenty of space for a full rack.
Another great selling point to the Sama is its affordable price. It’s priced significantly cheaper than most of its competitors, making it a great value.
The downside to all the comfort and padding on this harness is the weight. It’s not as lightweight as other harnesses on this list; however, it’s not heavy or bulky enough to cause any real issues while climbing. It also lacks ice clipper slots and adjustable leg loops, which means it’s not a great choice for ice climbers.
2. Black Diamond Momentum - Best Harness for Beginners
This harness is a popular choice for beginners. It’s a staple at climbing gyms and is even ranked #1 on Amazon in the Climbing Harnesses category. It’s a great option for beginners because it is super affordable and still packed with all the necessary features for many types of climbing. The padded waist belt and leg loops offer comfort during climbing; however, it does create some bulk and doesn’t mold to your body as well as other harnesses.
The adjustable leg loops fit a wide range of thigh sizes, and the gear loops provide adequate racking space. Rear elastic risers allow you to adjust the placement of the leg loops to make your seat at hanging belays more comfortable. This harness even features haul loop. Considering the affordable price and well-rounded features of this harness, it is not only an excellent choice for beginners but also for any climber looking for a good value.
3. Misty Mountain Silhouette - Best Women’s Harness
The Misty Mountain Silhouette is designed specifically for female climbers. The wide waistbelt and leg loops distribute force evenly yet taper off to provide freedom of movement without excessive bulk. The waistbelt and leg loops are both adjustable, allowing you to fully customize the harness to your body type. To add to the features, there are releasable leg loop holdup straps and a rear haul loop. The gear loops provide ample space for a double rack.
This harness is best suited for trad or multi-pitch climbs that you’ll be on the wall for extended periods of time. With this in mind, it would have been nice to have a fifth gear loop for clipping extra gear, but the large haul loop can be used to rack extra gear in a pinch.
4. Mammut Zephir Altitude - Best Harness for Mountaineering
A mountaineering harness has to be lightweight, breathable, and flexible to allow you to stay on the wall for extended periods of time while still having the flexibility to allow you to pursue the summit. The Zephir Altitude harness performs on all these fronts to offer the functionality you need while remaining relatively unnoticed on your body.
The Zephir Altitude is lightweight, weighing only 7.5 ounces and is versatile based on how many layers you’re wearing or how large your pack is. The click-buckle at the waist makes it easy to put on or take off the harness, and the adjustable leg loops will always fit over your layers. There are two gear loops and attachments for four ice screw carabiners to make sure you always have space for the gear needed to reach the summit.
5. Black Diamond Solution - Best for Gym Climbing
The Black Diamond Solution harness offers a comfortable fit, even when taking whips. It’s also quite light—weighing in at just 330 grams. The low-profile waistband and fixed leg loops streamline the harness to allow for freedom of movement and comfort. It is designed to mold to the contours of your body.
The main drawback of the Solution is its gear loops. The pressure-molded gear loops are rigid and small, which don’t allow much room to hold gear. If you’re using it for gym climbing or short sport routes this won’t be a problem, but if you primarily trad climb you may run into space issues with this harness.
Additionally, some people have run into problems with this harness running small compared to others of the same size. The fixed leg loops don’t offer much room for adjustment and can be too small for those with larger thighs.
6. Metolius Safe Tech All Around - Best for Big Wall Climbing
If you’re looking for a harness that offers a natural, comfortable fit that is sturdy and durable, then look no further than the Metolius Safe Tech. This harness is extremely durable and features a locking speed buckle for quick, non-slip adjustment. The harness is fully adjustable, and the leg loops can be removed when needed. There is even an adjustable rise that allows you to dial in the distance between the leg loops and the waistbelt for your body. Dual belay loops reduce clutter at belay and rappel stations.
Every piece of webbing and stitching in this harness is fully strength-rated. So if you unintentionally clip into the wrong part of the harness, you should be okay. Note: only clip into the belay loop–never the gear loop.
7. EDELRID Orion Climbing Harness - Best for Ice Climbing
The Edelrid Orion harness offers a comfortable fit and plenty of room to rack your gear. It’s durable, lightweight and breathable fabric enable you to remain comfortable while wearing the harness for extended periods of time and in a variety of weather conditions. The wide waistbelt and leg loops are well padded and ensure you’re comfortable despite long hang times. Adjustable leg loops make it easy to put your harness on over layers, and a reinforced tie-in point increase the lifespan of the harness.
There are four gear loops and 2 attachment options for ice-screw clips. The harness is a bit on the heavier side, but the comfort and durability features more than make up for the extra ounces.
This harness is loaded with plenty of features to make your time on the wall as comfortable as possible. However, some larger climbers may run into issues with the waist belt because the entire strap isn’t covered with padding.
8. EDELRID - Jay II Climbing Harness - Best Budget
The Edelrid Jay is an affordable harness that still comes with all of the features and comfort to make it a great value. Ideal for beginner climbers or anyone who would like a general all-purpose harness to wear at the gym or crag, the Edelrid doesn’t disappoint.
The gear loops are well placed and large enough to hold a full rack of gear, meaning you can grab this harness if you’re headed to the crag. It also has adjustable leg loops and a sliding belt design, which allows you to keep your gear and belay loops centered no matter how tight the buckle is cinched.
It’s not the most comfortable harness on this list, but for the price it gets the job done.
9. Arc’teryx FL-365 - Best for Trad Climbing
The Arc’teryx FL-365 makes racking your gear a breeze. You can easily fit all the gear you need on its wide gear loops and the haul loop on this harness effectively serves as a fifth gear loop. It’s low profile allow you to pack it down easily. The Arc’teryx brand is known for providing industry standard products, and this harness doesn’t disappoint. It is lightweight and unobtrusive while still providing adequate space to rack your gear. It even has four ice clipper slots. Additionally, this harness has thin padding on the waistbelt and leg loops that form to your body to provide added comfort while you’re on the wall.
All of the components of this harness are impeccably made with durable, high quality materials. This level of craftsmanship does come at a premium; however, as the FL-365 is the most expensive harness on this list.
10. EDELRID Fraggle II - Best for Kids
The Fraggle is designed for children up to 88 pounds. This full body harness with jointed padding fits a child’s anatomy. Breathable 3D padding and soft webbing edges provide maximum comfort for your kid without any pressure points.
The Fraggle features two tie-in points both above the body’s center of gravity, which ensures that your child won’t flip upside down while climbing.
Anybody who rope climbs spends a lot of time in their harness. This essential piece of gear not only keeps you safe on the wall but also attempts to make your time on the wall as comfortable as possible.
The relationship you develop with your harness will stick with you through your climbing career. It’s worth spending a little bit of time and effort to make sure you choose the best harness for you! Now that we’ve covered the types of harnesses and our top picks, you can get out there and start testing.
No matter what features and optimization you choose, the companies that make your harness go through extensive testing to be sure you are safe. Thanks to their hard work researching and developing effective ways to make harnesses, we can all enjoy climbing without fear of gear failure. Whether you’re a trad climber, sport climber, or ice climber, you can thank your best climbing harness next time you go out for an adventure.