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Harness Considerations

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 29 Jul 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Climbing Harnesses Harness Comfort

There are many different designs of climbing harnesses .Most harnesses which are used in rock climbing are worn around the waist although you can also buy chest and full body versions which are especially useful for young children who may have just started out in climbing and give them more protection in the event of a fall.

Considerations

The type of harness you choose will often depend upon the type of climbing you are going to do. For example, those who go alpine climbing will often need to wear different amounts of layers so they’ll want a harness which is very adjustable although they don’t come with as much padding in order to save weight. There are also harnesses which are slimmer in design which have narrower leg loops which allow for more freedom of motion. These types tend to be preferred by rock climbers, boulderers, and those who enjoy climbing walls within gyms because of the flexibility the increase in freedom of movement allows. However, you can also buy multi-purpose harnesses too.

Despite climbers having very different opinions on the merits of individual harnesses, however, what they will all tend to agree on is that whichever harness you choose needs to fit properly, feels comfortable and is safe.

Comfort and Fit

A sure indicator that a harness is comfortable is that you should hardly notice that you’re wearing it. This is why you should always visit a store in person to try out a range of harnesses as opposed to buying one online as an ill-fitting harness will not only cause chafing of the skin which can result in sores developing, it will also impede your movement. Most importantly, however, unless the harness fits perfectly, it’s likely to be unsafe. When you go to try out harnesses, you need to make sure that you do this in the kind of clothes that you intend to go climbing in. A waistbelt should fit snugly just above the hip bones and, after the buckle has been correctly secured and doubled back, there should still be approximately 3 inches of webbing extending from the buckle. Leg loops should also fit snugly although you should still be able to fit your hand between the loop and your leg.

Correct Way of Wearing a Harness

A good climbing store will let you try on a range of harnesses and show you how they should be worn. Ultimately, they’re designed to spread out the impact of a fall between the legs and the waist and, in doing so, cause as little damage as possible. A harness should be worn so that the leg loops bear around two-thirds of the impact of a fall because your thighs, which contain bone and muscle, can more easily absorb the impact of a fall more than your waist around which is where most of your vital organs are situated.

Testing Out a Harness

Some outdoor specialists will be able to let you attach a rope to the harness and have it set up so that you can be suspended in it for a while. Here, you’ve got the opportunity to determine whether it feels just as comfortable hanging in it as it was simply walking around in it. You might also want to wear a pair of gloves and to see how easy it is to operate the buckles and to access tools which you might want to have attached to its loops. You’ll want to avoid chafing and blisters so you may want a harness that not only feels comfortable but has extra padding, especially if you’re climbing indoors in warmer climates where you may not wear as many layers.

Very slim people and younger climbers often opt for full body harnesses which will prevent them from falling out of the harness should they fall and be flipped upside down.

A good stockist will not only ask you how it feels but may also take you through a checklist of questions and your responses will enable them to determine whether or not the harness is right for you.

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