Finding Your Ideal Harness

There are several things to consider when choosing a climbing harness. The first thing to consider is what you will be using the harness for. An ice climbing harness is unnecessary if you only intend to use it indoors.  Or in reverse, an indoor climbing harness will not uphold to weather conditions if you do intend to primarily ice climb. Just like a sports car isn’t your typical backcountry vehicle, climbing harnesses have their niches as well.

All harnesses will have the same basic parts: waist belt, leg loops, tie in a loop, belay loop, and gear loops. The differences are found in quantity of loops, weight, durability and comfort level.

Indoor Gym (Sport) Harnesses

  • Double-back waist belt to make it easy to get on and off quickly
  • Two gear loops
  • Thin belay loop to save on weight
  • Little or no leg adjustability

Traditional (Trad) Harnesses

  • Thicker padding for comfort when bolting or setting routes
  • 4 or more gear loops to hold lots of gear
  • Haul loop for bringing an extra rope if necessary

Ice Climbing Harness

  • Adjustable leg loops and waistbelt for multiple layers
  • 4 or more gear loops to hold lots of gear
  • Haul loop for bringing an extra rope if necessary
  • Thicker, more durable fabric to endure harsh winter conditions

Alpine Climbing Harness

  • Fully adjustable waistbelt and leg loops
  • Thin belay loop to save on weight
  • 4 or fewer gear loops
  • Haul loop for carrying an extra rope if necessary

Most new climbers begin with indoor climbing. It’s smart to start with a comfortable harness that is easy to get on and off. Harnesses are something you shouldn’t order online without trying on. Sizing can be tricky. Check out an outdoor store, such as our pro shop, for further advice and assistance with trying them on.