Buying a rock climbing harness

Buying a rock climbing harness

Parts of a harness

A climbing harness is among the first pieces of kit you buy. Although there are many variations and features of a harness, the basic structure is widely the same. Two tie in points, one belay loop and lots of nice padding.  


What do the fancy models give you?

For the most part, a harness is a harness. They all catch you and they're all better than the ones you get from the climbing centres.
So what sets the top models apart? Premium models offer more specific features such as, being lightweight for sport or alpine climbing or lots of padding for sitting at belays. However, for the first time buyer, an all-rounder is best, so all bases are covered. A good all-round harness will be very adjustable (adjust bigger for winter layers and smaller for summer), comfortable and have a decent amount of gear space (4-5 good sized gear loops) for multi-pitch and trad climbing. 

Another option to consider is space for caritool karbiners, which allow you to easily rack ice screws.

Fitting a harness

Like with most things you will be wearing, it is normally best to try a harness on before buying it. Although there are stated waist and leg sizes, not all people will fit perfectly into the specified size. Getting it right is important, so the padding and gear loops are located in the right place. Get it wrong and you may find yourself uncomfortable or not able to reach the gear loops easily. If you must buy online, it is worth considering a harness with a floating belt or two waist belt buckles to maximise adjustability, unless of course you already know exactly what you are buying! 


Our favorites

Climbing discipline Features Our choice







Adjustable leg loops for extra winter layers.
Decent amount of gear space for trad climbing.
Comfy to sit in. 


Edelrid Jay/Jayne DMM Viper/Vixen

First time


Go for an all-rounder.
It will definitely not stop you from
climbing your dream grade.
Plus, they often come in a pack
with a belay device and chalk bag       which is all you need to get started,
saving you a bit of cash.


DMM Viper/Vixen starter pack.


Sport climbing


Lightweight, comfy to sit in.

Black Diamond Solution/Solution Womens

Trad Climbing


Comfy to sit in, lots of space for gear.


DMM Renegade



All harnesses reach a point when they need to be retired. Key areas to look out for with harness include the belay loop, tie in points and materials around the buckles. So if these or any other weight bearing points look particularly worn or fluffy, it is time time to start looking for a replacement. Any serious signs of wear such as cuts, tears or extreme wear, replace it immediately! For those of you looking for a time limit, most people would look to replace a harness around every 5-10 years, depending on wear and use. In regards to other parts, metal will almost definitely outlive the fabric, so don't worry unless it obviously looks weakened, bent or corroded.