The Best Climbing Harnesses of 2021

CAMPING GEAR

A harness is an essential part of every climber’s kit. Whether you’re a beginner climber learning to belay in the gym or an experienced big wall climber preparing to spend a week on El Cap, the importance of a reliable harness cannot be stressed enough.

Just like running or cycling, climbing is divided up into many different subdisciplines and activities. Though all of these disciplines consist of moving upward on steep terrain, they’re each unique and require different kinds of gear.

The ideal harness for a sport climber probably won’t be the best choice for an ice climber or aid climber. Similarly, the best harness for a beginner likely won’t meet the needs of a more experienced climber.

On this list of the best climbing harnesses of 2021, we’ve included our favorites in a wide variety of categories. From best for beginners to best for trad climbing, our list will include an option that suits your climbing needs.

At the end of the list, we’ve also included a comprehensive how-to-choose guide that breaks down all of the factors you should consider when looking for the right climbing harness.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Climbing Harnesses of 2021

Best Overall: Petzl Sama & Selena

petzl sama & selena climbing harness

These tried-and-true midrange harnesses from Petzl ($69) have been slightly updated for 2021. The new versions carry the same reliable streamlined build that many climbers have come to expect from Petzl.

Using a combination of foam and split webbing, the Sama (mens’s) and Selena (women’s) are well-padded and comfortable for both climbing and belaying. The Sama is designed for men and features a short rise between the waist and leg loops. The Selena is designed for women and comes with a longer rise and an adapted waist-belt-to-leg-loop ratio.

These are a bit heavier than other harnesses in the all-around category. The extra weight here comes from pro-comfort features, including thick nylon webbing and wide foam waist and leg loops. For such a comfortable hardness, it’s a little surprising that the Sama and Selena do not have adjustable leg loops. Be sure to try these harnesses on before purchasing.

Though the Sama and Selena lean slightly toward sport climbing, they’re also great for single-pitch trad, gym climbing, and even multipitch routes that don’t require a massive rack. For any climber not especially concerned with lightweight gear and ultrahigh performance, the Sama or Selena can serve as an effective quiver-of-one.

We’ve seen this harness hold up really well in the long term, even with regular use. It’s a crowd favorite and rightfully so.

Weight: 14.8 oz. (M Selena) 14.6 oz. (M Sama)

Key Features:
  • Highly padded waist and leg loops
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
Cons:
  • On the heavier side
  • Not the most breathable

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Best Value: Edelrid Moe

edelrid moe climbing harness

New for 2021, the Moe ($59) is a modern all-around harness that offers exceptional value for the price. Whether you’re a new climber stepping into the gym for the first time or a longtime crusher, you’ll surely find lots to love about the Moe.

One of our favorite features of the Moe is its ability to fit a wide range of body types. Edelrid’s centerfit technology allows the foam padding of the waist loop to slide freely around the structural nylon webbing.

The slidable webbing works in tandem with an adjustment buckle to customize the fit of the Moe. Though the leg loops do not have full-size buckles, they can be adjusted slightly as needed.

The Moe comes with four standard-size symmetrical gear loops. We went trad climbing with the Moe and found the gear capacity to be generally sufficient for most single- and multipitch routes. The ample padding kept us reasonably comfortable while hanging in the harness, though the waist and leg loops don’t seem to breathe especially well.

After a full session, a ring of sweat was left behind after removing the Moe. To be fair, most foam harnesses deal with this problem; foam adds comfort but lacks ventilation.

Though we’ve only used the Moe for a month or so, it has yet to show any signs of wear and seems plenty durable. Red wear indicator threads are woven into the tie-in loops, which help determine when it is time to retire the harness.

The Moe is a solid, streamlined harness versatile enough for just about any discipline — yes, even ice climbing.

Weight: 11.5 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • Center Fit technology (adjustable belay loop positioning)
  • Ice clipper slots
  • Elastic leg loops
Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Customizable fit
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Not very breathable

Check Price at REICheck Price at Amazon

Best Ultralight Climbing Harness: Edelrid Ace II

edelrid ace ii

During testing, any harness that weighed less than 11 ounces fell into the “ultralight” category.” Of these, the 2021 Edelrid Ace II harness ($139) is our favorite. Ultralight harnesses are generally geared toward performance sport climbing and redpoint burns — and this is exactly where the Ace II shines.

We tested the Ace II in very warm early summer conditions at Smith Rock, Oregon. During balmy afternoons, it was a relief to put on this comfortable, lightweight, and well-ventilated harness. Edelrid’s 3D-Vent technology combines split-webbing construction with fully ventilated materials.

There are zero non-permeable layers of foam, adhesive, or webbing in the waist and leg loops of the Ace. Several other harness manufacturers offer ultralight harnesses with similar construction, but we found the Ace offers the best performance to weight ratio in its class.

Like most harnesses in the ultralight category, the Ace shines while climbing and reveals its weaknesses while belaying. While hanging from an anchor or belaying a friend during an extended working burn, the Ace can create some wedgie-esque discomfort.

Ultralight harnesses can’t do it all, and the Ace is no different. While this harness is a clear standout within its class, users should be aware it is not a do-it-all piece of gear.

Every part of the Ace — including the adjustment buckle and butt straps — is pared down and low-profile. We love the ultra-thin Dyneema belay loop, though it’s smaller than most and results in a fit that rides slightly higher.

Another cutting-edge feature of the Ace is the butterfly shape of the waist loop — an innovative design slowly becoming the norm for high-end harnesses. The anatomically contoured waist loop hugs the hips similar to a backpacking pack and reduces pressure on the lower back.

Overall, the Ace is a top-notch ultralight harness that backs up its fancy features with excellent performance.

Weight: 10.8 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • Split webbing 3D-vent construction
  • Ice clipper slots
  • Low-profile Dyneema belay loop
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Well-ventilated
  • Relatively comfortable
Cons:
  • Not comfortable for prolonged sitting or belaying

Check Price at Amazon

Best for Trad and Multipitch Climbing: Black Diamond Solution Guide — Men’s & Women’s

black diamond solution guide

The Solution Guide ($99) is the souped-up cousin of Black Diamond’s ever-popular Solution harness. Despite the name, this harness isn’t a specialized piece of gear to be used by guides only. Thanks to its impressive gear storage capabilities and high-end durability, we think the Guide is the best trad and multipitch climbing harness on the market.

When a route calls for a large rack, it’s important to wear a harness with enough carrying capacity. In addition to oversized front gear loops, the Guide also includes a fifth gear loop in the back, which offers a perfect place to store a water bottle or a pair of approach shoes. In our experience, the Guide has plenty of room for just about any free climbing rack.

In addition to plentiful gear storage, the Guide also features a wide waist belt, which noticeably improves low back support during hanging belays and long rappels. Both the waist and leg loops of the guide utilize Black Diamond’s version of split webbing, also known as Fusion Comfort Technology.

Three flat strips of webbing help spread out the load without the need for bulky foam. Comfort while hanging is essential for a multipitch harness, and the Guide delivers.

Because this harness is designed for trad climbing, we’re glad it’s made from abrasion-resistant materials that can withstand the abuse of off-width climbing and chimneying. The Guide showed zero concerning signs of wear after multiple sessions that included sport, trad, and multipitch climbing on abrasive granite.

Strictly made for rock climbing, the Guide doesn’t come with any ice clipper slots. Still, it’s a versatile harness at a fair price.

Weight: 14 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • Fifth gear loop for extra gear
  • Abrasion-resistant “Super Fabric”
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Lots of gear storage for trad climbing
  • Good value
Cons:
  • Lacks ice clipper slots

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at REI

Best Big Wall Harness: Misty Mountain Titan Harness

misty mountain titan harness

The Titan Harness ($189) from Misty Mountain is a true big wall climbing harness. Unlike just about every other harness on this list, the Titan does not shy away from extra bulk and maximum padding.

After all, a big wall harness should be comfortable enough to sit and hang in for multiple hours on end — comfort and support are the top priorities. For long aid routes, route development, and even the occasional pitch of free climbing, the Titan is a high-quality workhorse.

With a 5-inch dual-density foam waist loop, the Titan leads the big wall harness market in cushioning and low back support. The 4-inch leg loops are well-padded and easily adjustable to accommodate thick winter layers if need be. Both the waist and leg loops are wrapped in a 500-denier CORDURA nylon shell, so you won’t need to worry about abrasion while you’re groveling up granite offwidths.

Six reinforced gear loops offer plenty of space for expansive aid or free climbing racks. Other key features include dual belay loops, a rated haul loop, and two side slots for ice clippers.

Though the Titan is lightweight relative to its sturdy profile, you shouldn’t buy it as your go-to free climbing harness. This is a specialty piece of gear — it was born to shine on Grade XI big walls and gear-intensive aid routes.

Weight: 22.4 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • Six gear loops
  • Rated haul loop
  • Dual belay loops
  • Removable leg loops
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Highly supportive
  • Adjustable
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Not ideal for lightweight climbing styles

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Best Mountaineering-Specific Harness: Blue Ice Choucas Light

blue ice choucas light

At just 3.1 ounces in a size medium, this is by far the lightest climbing harness on our list. In short, minimizing weight is the top priority of the Choucas Light ($79).

While rock climbers require durable harnesses that can withstand abrasion from the rock, mountaineers often prefer minimalist options that won’t weigh them down as they trudge toward the summit.

The Choucas Light is not made for taking repeated whippers. Instead, the idea behind this harness is it can be worn or stuffed away in a pack without getting in the way.

When needed for a quick rappel or technical traverse across a glacier, the Choucas Light is a capable full-strength harness. Just don’t plan on hanging in it for very long, as it isn’t built for comfort.

When packed away, this harness can easily fit into a pocket or daypack. It has two small gear loops and two ice clipper slots. The leg loops detach completely, which is exceptionally helpful when you have skis on.

While ski mountaineering is probably the ideal use of the Blue Choucas, some users may also find it useful for ice climbing. If you enjoy climbing mountains and ultralight gear, this is the harness for you.

Weight: 3.1 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • Ice clipper slots
  • Two small gear loops
  • Detachable leg loops
Pros:
  • Extremely light
  • Packable
Cons:
  • Uncomfortable for prolonged hanging
  • Minimal gear storage

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Best of the Rest

Metolius Safe Tech Trad Harness

metolius safe tech trad harness

The Safe Tech Trad harness ($128) — part of the long-standing Metolius Safe Tech line — is a unique option for climbers looking to prioritize safety and emergency preparedness. The defining characteristic of the Safe Tech line is its extensive use of high-strength materials.

Just about every clip-in point on this harness (including the gear loops) is rated to at least 10 kN. We’ve included this harness on our list because it offers unique load-bearing versatility that stands alone on the harness market.

Though not technically a big wall harness, the Trad is definitely designed to support a climber during sustained periods of hanging. Its wide padded waist belt and adjustable leg loops also suggest that it’s compatible with heavy loads of gear and thick winter clothing.

Built with traditional foam and webbing, the Safe Tech Trad harness looks and feels somewhat outdated compared to most other harnesses on this list. It’s heavy, somewhat difficult to adjust, and generally overbuilt for most free climbing applications. Still, the load-bearing versatility of this harness offers unique value to search-and-rescue personnel and safety-minded climbers.

Weight: 16.5 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • High-strength construction throughout the harness
  • Dual belay loops
  • Rated haul loop
Pros:
  • Lots of safe places to clip in
  • Comfortable for extended hanging and belaying
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Overbuilt

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Petzl Sitta

petzl sitta

The 9.5-ounce (medium) Petzl Sitta ($199) is a high-end, ultralight harness that’s well-loved by alpine climbers and sport climbers alike. It’s certainly on the more expensive end of the harness spectrum, but it’s hard to beat for redpoint burns or moving quickly over alpine terrain.

Like most ultralight harnesses, the Sitta features a split webbing design with minimal foam. Petzl’s version of split webbing is called “Wireframe Technology,” which distributes the load across the waist and leg loops using thin strips of high-strength Spectra.

Like other split-webbing harnesses on this list — including the Edelrid Ace and the Black Diamond Solution Guide — the Sitta offers comfort and durability without the bulk of foam padding.

In true ultralight fashion, the Sitta is pared down to the essentials. It does not have adjustable leg loops, and the four gear loops are fairly small. Though this harness could be used for certain trad routes, it works best when it isn’t loaded down with gear.

While we thoroughly enjoyed giving redpoint burns on our projects in the Sitta, we’re a little thrown off by the price tag. For significantly less money, the Edelrid Ace II offers similar features and equivalent performance.

Weight: 9.5 oz. (M)

Key Features:
  • Wireframe Technology split webbing construction
  • Hip-hugging waist loop
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable relative to low weight
Cons:

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Grivel Trend Harness

grivel trend harness

Grivel is traditionally known for ice climbing and mountaineering gear. With the new Trend harness ($99), the Italian gear company is making a flashy entrance into the sport climbing market.

While most climbing gear sticks to relatively simple and monochrome design principles, the Trend aims to be an outlier. Available in four funky and expressive prints, this harness will turn some heads at the crag.

The version we tested has a fuzzy-textured leopard print, and our first day out climbing with it yielded more than a few “Love the harness!” calls. The remaining print options are snakeskin, black-on-black leopard, and abstract.

It’s nice to see some climbing equipment with a fashion sense, but we’re especially impressed the Trend offers plenty of function too. At just over 10 ounces in a medium, the Trend is an excellent ultralight sport climbing harness. With four gear loops, fixed leg loops, and a hip-hugging butterfly-shaped waist loop, the Trend is well-stocked with modern features.

The Trend is among the lightest foam and webbing style harnesses on the market. If Grivel wanted to truly turn the Trend into an ultralight and breathable sport climbing tool, they could do away with the foam and experiment with well-ventilated split-webbing construction.

As it stands, the foam on the Trend is actually relatively thin, so it doesn’t feel excessively cumbersome. Also, we like that the foam wraps around the tops of the waist and leg loops provide extra comfort while hanging or belaying.

For sizing, be aware the Trend seems to run small compared to other major harness manufacturers such as Petzl and Black Diamond. We found a size small in the Trend was significantly smaller than any other small harness we tested.

Overall, the Trend is a well-made harness perfect for the sport climber seeking a unique blend of function and flair.

Weight: 10.4 oz. (M)

Key features:
  • Eye-catching fabric
  • Hip-hugging contoured waist loop
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
Cons:
  • May be too flashy for some climbers

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Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Climbing Harness

Before you purchase a climbing harness, it’s important to understand your needs as a climber.

Different harnesses are designed for different climbing applications. While any harness made by a reputable manufacturer is built to keep you safe, a carefully selected harness will offer much more than basic safety.

It’s important to select a harness designed for the kind of climbing you plan to do. For example, heavily padded harnesses are great for aid climbers or route developers, but they will be too heavy and bulky for casual sport climbing.

Similarly, a harness with tons of gear loops may be a good choice for big wall trad climbing, but it may not be necessary for ski mountaineering. Our list of recommendations includes various types of harnesses, and our buyer’s guide can help you understand the differences between them.

Entry-Level and All-Around Harnesses

Climbing harnesses designed for all-around use are the most beginner-friendly. Instead of specializing in one specific discipline, all-around harnesses include features that apply broadly to multiple climbing styles.

For beginner climbers, these harnesses are a comfortable and affordable tool that allows the exploration of different kinds of climbing. On this list, we recommend the Edelrid Moe and the Petzl Sama/Selena as excellent entry-level options.

While these models aren’t ultralight or packed with high-tech features, they’re perfect for top-roping at the gym, learning to lead outside, or venturing up your first multipitch route.

Sport Climbing

Harnesses built for sport climbing are lightweight, low-profile, and performance-oriented. All-around harnesses can absolutely be used for sport climbing too. However, they tend to be bulkier and heavier than most experienced sport climbers prefer.

Because harness weight is a consideration for this climbing discipline, sport climbing harnesses tend to have minimal metal buckles and fixed leg loops. Also, sport climbing harnesses commonly feature split webbing construction instead of a single piece of webbing covered in bulky foam.

Gear storage is not a major priority for sport climbing harnesses, and they usually come with either two or four scaled-down gear loops.

High-end sport harnesses should be considered a specialty piece of gear. They’re great for redpoint burns and projecting, but we don’t recommend them to climbers seeking versatility. On this list, the harnesses we recommend in this category are the Edelrid Ace II and the Petzl Sitta.

climber wearing sport climbing harness

Trad Climbing

Trad climbers regularly carry a hefty rack of cams, nuts, and other gear via the gear loops on their harness. Compared to an entry-level or sport climbing harness, trad-specific models tend to have at least four large gear loops.

Whether you’re single-pitch cragging or multipitching, trad climbing often involves physical climbing techniques including crack climbing and chimneying. A trad harness should be durable enough to hold up to these rugged sub-disciplines.

Because trad climbing commonly does involve multipitch routes, you’ll also want a model comfortable enough for all-day use. While sitting in a hanging belay, you’ll be glad to have wide and well-padded waist and leg loops.

A rear haul loop is a helpful feature too. Even if you don’t use it to haul a load, it can be a great place to clip a water bottle or a pair of approach shoes. On this list, the trad climbing harnesses we recommend are the Black Diamond Solution Guide and the Metolius Safe Tech Trad.

Alpine Climbing

Alpine climbing often involves long approaches, long multipitch routes, tricky protection, and less-than-ideal rock quality. An alpine climbing harness offers most of the same features as a trad climbing harness. The key difference is that alpine harnesses typically include features geared toward glacier travel and ice/mixed climbing.

In addition to at least four large gear loops, alpine harnesses usually have ice clipper slots, which are helpful for carrying ice screws. When traveling in the alpine, you’ll likely experience severe temperature fluctuations in a single day. Adjustable leg loops can expand to accommodate additional lower body layers when necessary.

Most alpine climbers aim to move light and fast, so many harnesses in this category are streamlined and packable. On our list, the alpine harnesses we recommend are the Petzl Sitta and the Blue Ice Choucas.

Big Wall Climbing

Big wall climbing harnesses are all about comfort, gear storage, and support. For most people, big wall climbing is a slow and laborious process that involves a whole lot of hanging around in a harness.

Compared to any other type of harness, the waist and leg loops on a big wall model are extremely padded and burly. A true big wall harness has two belay loops, at least four large gear loops, and a load-bearing haul loop.

Though these beefy harnesses aren’t ideal for any other styles of climbing, they’re an essential item for slogging up the wall in true big wall style. On this list, we recommend the Misty Mountain Titan for big wall climbing.

Mountaineering

Of all the categories of climbing harnesses, mountaineering models are the most lightweight. Most of the time, mountaineering involves lots of walking, hiking, and low-angle climbing on snow and ice. For this reason, these harnesses need to be comfortable for walking in and also need to be easy to put on and take off.

Removable leg loops are a great feature for ski mountaineering specifically. Because falling is generally not a safe option in a mountaineering setting, these harnesses are not padded to comfortably cushion a fall. Sure, these harnesses can safely catch you, but it isn’t going to feel good.

Minimalism is the name of the game with mountaineering harnesses, and they tend to be less expensive than more feature-packed styles. On this list, the mountaineering harness we recommend is the Blue Ice Choucas.

climber wearing mountaineering climbing harness

Parts of a Climbing Harness

The basic parts of every climbing harness are the waist loop, leg loops, belay loop, and gear loops. Every harness on our list includes these fundamental features, no matter which climbing discipline it’s designed for. Beyond the essentials, harnesses may also feature additional features such as a haul loop and ice clipper slots.

Waist and Leg Loops

The waist loop of a climbing harness should fit snugly around your waist and sit just above your hip bones. Most waist loops can be adjusted using a system of webbing and buckles. Many harnesses come with a similar buckle adjustment system on each leg loop.

Harnesses with fixed leg loops are usually built for high-end sport climbing. It’s very important that your waist and leg loops fit properly, and we recommend trying a harness on before purchasing.

Belay Loop

The belay loop is made of very strong nylon or Dyneema webbing and connects the waist loop to the leg loops. While belaying or rappelling, this loop is used to attach yourself to the rope and the greater climbing system.

Lightweight harnesses for sport climbing or mountaineering will have thinner belay loops, while all-around and trad climbing harnesses will have thicker loops. Many big wall harnesses, like the Misty Mountain Titan, include two belay loops for extra versatility. Because your belay loop is a key part of the climbing system, you should check it regularly for wear.

Gear Loops

Every harness will include at least two gear loops where you can conveniently hang items including quickdraws, cams, jacket, water bottle, and so on. The more gear-intensive and technical the climbing, the more gear loops you’ll need.

A harness with fewer than four gear loops is a specialty item and is probably designed for high-end sport climbing or mountaineering. Most all-around and entry-level harnesses come with four gear loops, which is plenty for gym climbing and single-pitch climbing.

For multipitch climbing, the addition of a fifth gear loop or haul loop is often useful. Big wall climbing requires lots of gear, and many big wall harnesses have more than four gear loops.

Haul Loop

A haul loop is a small attachment point located at the back of a climbing harness. This feature is not necessary for gym climbing or single-pitch climbing.

For multipitch or big wall climbing, look for a haul loop rated to full strength so you can use it to haul heavy loads. While actively climbing, a haul loop can be a convenient place to store an extra layer or water bottle.

Ice Clipper Slots

Harnesses with ice clipper slots are specifically designed for ice climbing. They’re primarily used to carry ice screws. On this list, the Edelrid Ace II is an excellent harness that comes with ice clipper slots.

Materials and Construction

As of 2021, climbing harnesses have evolved into lightweight, comfortable, and exceptionally strong pieces of gear. Still, as new materials and technology come to the forefront, harnesses continue to improve. In today’s market, there are two primary types of harness construction: foam and split webbing.

Foam Harnesses

Foam harnesses are built on a single piece of high-strength webbing embedded in layers of cushy foam. While the webbing gives this kind of harness its load-bearing ability, the foam provides support and comfort.

A well-constructed foam harness effectively disperses your weight while falling or hanging. Foam offers ample padding, and it is still the standard for harness built for comfort, including most entry-level and big wall harnesses. On this list, the Petzl Sama and Selena are great foam harnesses.

However, foam and webbing construction does have some disadvantages. Foam is an insulator and does not breathe well. In warm weather, these harnesses can feel hot and sweaty. Foam also wears out over time, and the more you climb in it, the less comfortable it will become. For experienced sport and trad climbers, foam harnesses are no longer the best option on the market.

Split Webbing Harnesses

Though foam and webbing harnesses have been the standard for several decades, more and more climbers are turning to split webbing harnesses.

Instead of a single piece of webbing covered by foam, split webbing harnesses feature a web-like matrix of high-strength materials. By spreading out the load-bearing materials, these harnesses are able to distribute the load more evenly.

On split webbing harnesses, very little padding is required to create a comfortable fit. Split webbing harnesses tend to last longer than foam options, and many climbers find they offer a comfort advantage too.

The tradeoff is split webbing harnesses are considerably more expensive. However, split webbing is clearly the future of harness technology, and many of our favorite harnesses fit into this category. On this list, the Edelrid Ace II and the Petzl Sitta are high-quality split webbing harnesses.

Harness Sizing

It’s very important your climbing harness is properly fitted. Ultimately, the best way to find a good fit is to try a harness on before purchasing. Every harness and every person has a unique shape and dimensions, and the process of identifying the perfect match can involve some trial and error.

A properly fitted harness will feel snug and sit just above the hips. The harness should be tight but not uncomfortably so. It’s okay to be able to fit a finger or two between your body and the harness.

The leg loops should sit semi-snugly around your mid-thigh. It’s good to maintain a little wiggle room in your leg loops, as they can cut off circulation if they are too tight. While all harnesses include adjustable waist loops, not all include adjustable leg loops.

If you plan to climb in alpine conditions where you’ll need to change your lower body layers often, adjustable and/or removable leg loops are a must. Leg loops come with thin elastic straps that attach to the waist loop along the backside of the thighs. These are often releasable for easy bathroom breaks.

Durability

Depending on what kind of climbing you do — and how often you do it — a harness can last anywhere from a few months to multiple years. Because sport climbing tends to involve less contact between your harness and the rock, sport harnesses can be relatively thin.

Trad and aid climbing involve techniques such as offwidth and chimneying, which require direct contact between your body and the rock. Most trad and aid harnesses are made from burly materials. For example, the Black Diamond Solution Guide is built with an extra abrasion-resistant outer material.

Though the ultralight innovations sweeping the climbing market are exciting, it’s important to remember lighter materials do generally come with a decrease in durability. If you choose to buy a super low-profile model like the Petzl Sitta, you should also be aware it probably won’t last as long as more robust options.

man putting on climbing harnesses

When to Retire Your Harness

Just like a climbing rope, a harness should be regularly inspected for signs of wear. Pay extra attention to the weight-bearing components, including the tie-in points, belay loop, waist loop, and leg loops. Look carefully for fraying, fuzziness, or any signs of abrasions. The belay loop or tie-in points are usually the first parts of a harness to wear out.

If you’re not sure whether your harness needs to be retired, look up the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance. Generally, we advise conservative decisions regarding whether a harness is still safe to use. If you have doubts about the condition of your harness, purchase a replacement.

Weight

Whether you’re wearing it or hauling it in your pack, you’re going to spend a lot of time carrying your harness around. Lightweight harnesses are generally associated with increased performance.

For entry-level climbers, weight is not as important as comfort. However, for climbers working to push themselves and improve — especially in the sport climbing discipline — minimal weight is preferred.

Though lightweight harnesses work great for sport climbing and mountaineering, other disciplines call for something a little heavier. Big wall harnesses with their numerous gear loops and maximal comfort are rightfully heavy.

On this list, we’ve included incredibly light harnesses like the Petzl Sitta, which weighs 9.5 ounces. On the other end of the spectrum, we also recommend the thick and burly Misty Mountain Titan, which weighs a whopping 22.4 ounces.

Price

Climbing harnesses vary significantly in price, and it’s a good idea to determine your budget as you shop around. Generally, entry-level and all-around harnesses are the cheapest, and good options are available for around $60.

Mountaineering harnesses tend to be on the cheaper side too, as they’re minimal and don’t boast fancy features or elaborate construction. On the more expensive end of the spectrum, top-of-the-line sport climbing harnesses can cost well over $150.

Men’s and Women’s Harnesses

While some harnesses are designed specifically for men or women, many styles on the market are not labeled as such. On this list, the Petzl Sama and Selena are examples of two harnesses essentially the same in terms of materials and features, but each caters to a specific gender.

Compared to men’s harnesses, women’s styles often have a longer rise between the waist loop and leg loops as well as other minor differences. On this list, there are also multiple harness options that are not gender-specific, including the Petzl Sitta.

FAQ

What Is the Best Climbing Harness?

The best climbing harness is the one that suits your current and future needs as a climber. If you’re just starting out, look for a harness that fits well and feels comfortable, as comfort is the top priority for beginners.

There are many kinds of climbing and many kinds of climbers. Choosing the perfect harness may require some patience and trial and error.

How Strong Are Climbing Harnesses?

Like all load-bearing climbing gear, harnesses are rated and certified to hold a certain force, measured in kilonewtons (kN). To make a long explanation about forces and materials short, climbing harnesses are plenty strong to handle various climbing scenarios, including falls.

All climbers should be aware only certain parts of the harness are certified. In climbing systems, we rely on the strength of the belay loop, tie-in points, and waist loop. Some harnesses, like the Metolius SafeTech Trad, also include rated haul loops and gear loops.

A worn-out harness can lose its strength, and it’s important to routinely check your harness and other climbing gear for signs of wear.

How Long Do Climbing Harnesses Last?

Depending on the type and frequency of use, climbing harnesses can last anywhere from a few months to multiple years. Generally, harnesses with more durable materials and a bulkier build will last longer than ultralight and low-profile options, though many factors that make it difficult to predict the lifespan of a climbing harness.

Are Climbing Harnesses Comfortable?

We consider all of the harnesses on this list to offer an appropriate amount of comfort for their intended application. With that said, most climbing harnesses are not as comfortable as a pair of sweatpants — it’s usually a relief to remove your harness at the end of a climbing session.

On this list, some harnesses, including the Misty Mountain Titan, are built for comfort and offer more support while hanging or belaying. Other options, like the ultralight Petzl Sitta, are less padded and quickly become uncomfortable while sitting or hanging.


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