Rock climbing has increased in popularity over the past decade. With Australian rock climbing ambassadors, like Andrea Hah and Tom O’Halloran, singing the sport praises. Many other indoor climbers are moving outdoors and daring on difficult climbs.
As most experienced climbers will know, safety is by far the most important aspect of climbing any kind of tall surface. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors. Wearing a harness has become standard when you take on any climbing activity. Climbing activities that range from roped indoor bouldering to climbing and abseiling.
A climbing harness and strong ropes just might be the one thing that saves you from plummeting to your downfall. The device might look like a sumo wrestler’s mawashi (belt), but it does wonders in securing you to an anchor point on a rock.
For those who don’t have the experience of Alex Honnold, who decided to climb El Capitan without any safety harnesses or ropes, then you need to invest in a good quality climbing harness.
To help you make an informed decision when purchasing a lifesaving climbing harness, Best Aussie Reviews have put together a complete buyer’s guide to the best climbing harnesses in Australia.
Top 6 Climbing Harness in Australia 2020
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Why Should You Wear a Harness While Climbing?
Even though some daredevil climbers prefer taking on a cliff without wearing a harness, it doesn’t mean that this is the best idea. The harness has a variety of different loops that connects the climber to a variety of gear throughout the climb.
Its main purpose is to provide safety for the climber. Preventing a climber to fall down if they lose their grip. It secures and supports your body to anchor points and ropes.
Ultimately saving you from a terrible fall to the ground down below, when you lose your footing.
How to Wear a Climbing Harness
If you haven’t encountered a climbing harness before, you will definitely notice that it’s quite a tricky piece of equipment. It has many loops, buckles, and adjustable straps that should be tightened and fitted, to keep you safe during your climb.
It’s therefore important that you understand all parts of the harness (we’ll discuss this in detail a little bit later). Using your harness properly will ensure that it serves its purpose.
Even though some harnesses might have different wearing instructions. Here are general instructions on how to put on a climbing harness:
- Start with loosening the leg-loop and waistbelt buckles to create enough space for you to insert your legs and waist
- Straighten out the harness by removing twists
- Put legs through loops and pull up the waistbelt as you would with pants
- Tighten the leg-loop and waistbelt buckles for a comfortable yet secure fit
- Double-back all buckles for extra security
- Double-check that all buckles are fastened, that there aren’t any twists in the belts, and that all parts are secured
Now you are ready to climb!
Best Brands of Climbing Harnesses
PETZL is an equipment company that creates a variety of tough safety pieces of equipment, for both sports and professional environments. From helmets to ropes, and pulleys to harnesses, PETZL specializes in the best climbing equipment on the market.
The brand was founded in 1975 by French man Fernand Petzl. Since its humble beginnings, it has created a variety of specialized work-at-height equipment, caving, mountaineering, and climbing gear.
Many of their team members were once professional climbers, and that’s why they truly understand the importance of creating durable, well-functioning, and efficient climbing products.
Black Diamond is a popular brand name for climbing and skiing equipment. The successful company was founded in 1989 and is based in Utah, USA. The founder, Yvon Chouinard, hand-forged pitons as early as 1958 and sold them out of the trunk of his car.
Since then the company has undergone changes in management. Now it’s seen as one of the leaders in climbing equipment manufacturing. You can buy Black Diamond products all around the world.
Their ingenious designs and durable materials are perfect for all kinds of climbs.
Key Features to Consider When Buying a Climbing Harness
Climbing harnesses are much more than they seem. You might think it’s only a bunch of loops and holes that serve no purpose, think again. Each part of the climbing harness has a specific function. It’s important that you know what features and key aspects to look out for when shopping for a harness.
Parts of a Harness
Here is a list of the different parts of a harness:
Waist Belt and Leg Loops
The waist belt and leg loops form the main construction of the harness. A band of central webbing that has foam padding provides comfort and strength.
Foam that surrounds the support system might become a bit worn after some time. It’s important to consider the width of the leg loops and the padding. As the leg loops can create compression when it has to carry your weight for too long and become quite uncomfortable.
Brands have created new manufacturing techniques and fabrics to try and improve the comfort level of the waistband and leg loops.
Most leg loops are designed in a fixed size that should snuggly fit around thighs and waists. Some harnesses’ leg loops are adjustable to be able to fit over layers of winter clothes.
A loop of extremely durable webbing that is used in belaying. Belaying is used when one climber assists another by exerting tension on a rope. This prevents the assisted climber to not fall too far. When you attach a locking carabiner to the loop you can use it in belaying.
Typically the belay loop is in a vertical orientation. It attaches the leg loops to the waist belt.
Traditional buckles are known as ‘double-back’ buckles. In order for you to safely secure the webbing, you have to transfer the webbing through the buckle and back again, to ensure it has been locked off.
A more convenient and much faster buckle is the modern auto lock buckle that can be found on newer harness models.
Buckles are used to tighten leg loops and waistbelts around the body for a secure fit.
Extra loops that are placed around the waistband. They are made from durable cord or plastic with the main function of storing ‘gear’. Gear that can include slings, karabiners, cameras, nuts, and quickdraws.
Common harnesses have 2-4 gear loops depending on the weight.
Tie in Loops
This piece of rigid webbing is sewn onto the front of the waistbelt. With the function of passing the supportive rope through the upper and lower tie in holes using bowline knots.
It secures that both the waistband and leg holes are independently secured to the rope, which allows for more even weight distribution.
A small webbing loop that is sewn into the back of the waistbelt. Specifically for trailing a rope or alternatively hanging a chalk bag. They shouldn’t be used as the primary attachment point, but are handy for other secondary functions.
Ice Clipper Slots
Little stretchy slots that are sewn onto the waistbelt. They are perfect to hold karabiners and ice screws.
The climber’s natural booty lift. The rear risers connect the leg loops to the back of the waistband. By adjusting the shape and length of the rear risers, you can alter the shape and feel of the harness for more comfortability. They are usually detachable and are used when climbers want to remove or add extra clothing.
Male vs Female Harness
There is a big difference between male, female, and children’s harnesses. Female harnesses are specifically designed to fit the female physique. It has an increased rise, a more shapely waistbelt, and a smaller leg-to-waist ratio.
Children’s harnesses are designed as a type B harness for weights lighter than 40 kilograms. For children under the age of five, a full-body harness is recommended.
Make sure that you purchase the right harness that fits your body shape.
Fit and Size
It’s extremely important to choose a climbing harness that sits comfortably on your body. Nothing will be worse than hanging mid-air from a tall rock in complete discomfort and agony.
Choose a climbing harness that has enough padding that will minimize the pressure from the webbing on your legs and waist. Do remember that even if the harness has a lot of padding, it won’t make up for an ill-fitted model.
Your harness shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. When a waistbelt fits correctly the belay loop will be perfectly centered. Fixed leg loop sized will give you only a few centimeters of leeway. Whereas adjustable leg loops can be customized to your size.
The best way to fit a model is by trying it on and hanging in it. Make sure that the size and fit are perfect for your body type.
It’s important that you get a harness that will be able to support your full body weight. Children’s full-body harnesses can hold up to 40 kilograms. Most adult climbing harnesses don’t offer a weight limit, but the belay loop should be able to hold up to 1500 kilograms.
This is where harness standards come in to play.
Specifically designed for safety, most harnesses have to undergo rigid testing. All harnesses that have a waistbelt and two leg loops are classified as Type C harnesses. Full-body harnesses, like the ones used for children, are classified as Type B harnesses.
A type C body harness should have a belay loop that can hold 1500 kilograms. When you purchase a climbing harness, make sure that it adheres to the standards.
As previously stated, more modern climbing harnesses come with fixed leg loops. But if you need a bit more customization, then you have to consider whether the harness has adjustable straps.
Buckles can be double-backed and re-sized to fit your body type more comfortably. Especially if your hip to waist and thigh to hip ratio are a bit different than typical body shapes.
Types of Climbing Harness
Harnesses aren’t all designed the same. They are different in terms of providing different functions for a variety of climbing activities. Here are the most common types of climbing harnesses:
Designed for climbing in harsh snowy and icy winter weather conditions. The harness is fully adjustable to accommodate the removal and addition of winter clothing.
Has four or more gear loops for ice tools, screws, and other winter gear.
The original climbing harness with loads of durable and thick padding. It’s designed with either adjustable leg loops and buckles or fixed leg loop sizes. Commonly lightweight with a lot of different gear loops.
Also known as the Trad harness
It can be used indoors and outdoors. It’s extremely lightweight and doesn’t feature a lot of different gear loops. Designed to be quick and easy to put on and remove. Typically manufactured with only 2 gear loops and with a stretchable fabric that is a one size fits all.
Specifically designed as an all-season harness. Between 2-4 gear loops that allow for minimal gear carry-ons. Made from thinner material that allows for easy portability and packing.
Some mountaineering harnesses don’t have a belay loop to save on weight.
Harnesses come in different designs for typical climbing sports, but in some cases, specialized harnesses are designed. Specialized harnesses include designs for competition climbing, big wall climbing, canyoneering, and rescue harnesses.
Best Climbing Harness in Australia Reviews
Here is a list of climbing harness reviews on our top picks:
Black Diamond Momentum
Overview: Black Diamond created the perfect all-mountain harness in a variety of flattering colours. Specifically designed as a lightweight model that has an extremely comfortable fit while providing safety.
For a quick on and off, it features a main buckle that allows for customizable adjustability. Modern technology known as Black Diamonds’ trakFIT allows for leg loop adjustment. The riser straps are made from an adjustable elastic. The waistbelt is padded and in a bullhorn-shape for optimum lumbar support.
It has 4 gear loops and a haul loop that are pressure moulded. The Dual core technology allows for maximum comfort while allowing balance.
What makes this product great is that it weighs only 363 grams, making it a perfect lightweight packable harness for mountaineering.
Type: Mountaineering Harness
Key Features: Speed adjust waistbelt buckle, bull-horn shaped waistbelt, pressure-moulded gear loops, extremely lightweight, Dual core technology, trakFIT leg loop adjustment
PETZL Adjama Climbing Harness
Overview: PETZL is known for its high-quality harnesses. Weighing only 460 grams, the PETZL Adjama is the perfect mountaineering and ice climbing harness. It features adjustable leg loops and double-back light buckles for easy adjustment.
PETZL’s endoframe construction technology allows the harness to create excellent weight distribution for added comfort. Furthermore, the waistbelt is wider on the sides which allows more room for waist and hips, avoiding uncomfortable compression. The fact that there aren’t any crossing seams on the waistbelt, ensures that the climber won’t experience any chafing.
The use of high-tenacity polyethylene creates a durable harness that is resistant to vigorous rope friction.
It features 4 gear loops; 2 rigid gear loops in the front for accessing equipment quick and easy, and 2 flexible ones in the back. Two additional slots for hauling rope and caritools. The elastic leg loops are detachable.
Type: Mountaineering and Ice Climbing
Key Features: Endoframe technology, lightweight at 460 grams, extremely durable, detachable and adjustable leg loops, wider waistbelt.
PETZL Sama Climbing Harness
Overview: Looking at PETZL’s indoor gym harnesses, the PETZL Sama is by far the front runner. Specially designed for sport climbing, the Sama is comfortable and high-quality. It weighs only 680 grams which is extremely lightweight.
The sleek design has padded leg loops and waistbelt. Both are wide for comfortable positioning on the body. Yet again, PETZL added their Endoframe technology that allows for excellent weight distribution. Even though the leg loops aren’t adjustable, they are made from elastic that creates maximum mobility.
In addition, the climbing harness has 2 rigid gear loops in the front and one rear loop for trail lining.
Manufactured from durable materials that include aluminium, EVA, polyurethane, nylon, and polyester.
Type: Traditional Harness and Gym/Indoor Harness
Key Features: Lightweight at 680 grams, Endoframe technology, durable fabric manufacturing, elastic leg loops, wide waistbelt.
Mammut Ophir 3 Slide (Women)
Overview: Mammut designed a climbing harness specifically catered to the female’s physique. It has patented abrasion protection and functional drop-seat buckles. Even though the harness might look delicate it surely is a force to be reckoned with. Manufactured from high-quality materials and durable fabrics.
The two-part webbing design creates maximum comfort. A symmetrical harness with four gear loops. For petite built women, the harness comes in extra small sizing with only two gear loops. The special design creates top comfort and breathability with freedom of movement for all kinds of climbing.
Type: Traditional harness for all-seasons
Key Features: Patented abrasion protection, drop-seat buckles, comes in petite sizes, two-part webbing manufacturing
Fusion Climb Centaur Children’s
Overview: Specifically designed and manufactured for children ages 7-12. The lightweight Fusion Climb centaur climbing harness is an easy on and off harness for indoor and outdoor climbing and activities.
The belay loop is re-enforced with extra webbing to allow for maximum durability and longevity. The webbing is manufactured from polyester and has a breaking strength of 2267 kilograms.
Perfect for young climbers who need to be visible while climbing, as well as getting the safety and security from the harness.
Type: Traditional Climbing Harness for Children
Key Features: Easy pass-through buckles, lightweight at only 680 grams, 2267 kg breaking strength, bright and visible colors.
Edelrid Fraggle III for Children
Overview: Another great option for children who want to pursue climbing as a sport, is the Edelrid Fraggle III full-body climbing harness. The 3-D mesh padding creates a soft and comfortable fit that allows for maximum security and safety.
The 2 slide block buckles allow for easy harness adjustment. Leg loops aren’t adjustable but rather fixed for easy on and off. It features two tie-in loops for carabiners.
Type: Trad Harness
Key Features: 3-D mesh padding, a weight limit of 40 kilograms, adhere to type B harness safety regulations.
Making sure that your harness meets the above-mentioned criteria and key features, will ensure a safe climb every time. Definitely not a piece of equipment where you can compromise quality over price.
When you got the relevant climbing experience and invested in decent climbing gear. Then you are ready to take on some of Australia’s toughest climbing spots. Whether it’s Mt Arapiles, Mt Buffalo, or the Blue Mountains – make sure you pack your all-important climbing harness.