Choosing your Harness
The harness is your first line of protection when it comes to climbing. It is directly connected to your body, then linked to a set of gear. This combination of fabric and material could look complex but once the parts are broken down piece by piece, you will understand its structure more easily. Once you do, you will be better equipped in choosing the perfect type of harness that satisfies your needs.
[illustration of harness here]
The swami belt goes around your waist (that’s why it’s also known as the waist belt) and should feature a combination of security and comfort. It is usually adjustable with the use of buckles. Buckles are usually situated off-center so that it would not get in the way when you tie in your rope into the belay loop. The belay loop, a multi-padded part, is the strongest point in your harness. It is load tested to ensure strength.
The leg loops should be like the waist belt as well, secure and comfortable. It could be made with a variety of materials, but harnesses used for long, multi-pitch climbs have added padding for support and ease. Another type of loop found is the gear loop. This is one of the main identifiers of harness differences. Commonly made of plastic and/or webbing, they are designed to carry gear like cams and quick draws. There could be 2 or more gear loops on your harness. Harnesses meant for traditional climbing usually has more loops compared to a harness designed for beginners, due to difference in number of equipment that they bring while climbing. Now that we’ve lain down the parts, we move on to the types. The components just vary from each one to the next.
[spread of illustrations]
Sport or indoor gym harnesses
Since its intended use is for the climber to be familiar with the wall and get comfortable climbing it, this type of harness is stripped down to the bare essentials. The buckles of the waist belt are quick and easy to release, only 1-2 gear loops are present is equipment are not necessary, a less thick belay loop that saves weight, and stretchable leg loops that lack the padding to also shave bulk.
[illustration of sport harness here]
More gear, more features. A traditional harness has more gear loops since it’s designed to hold lots of carabiners, cams, etc., leg loops and waist belts are padded and fully adjustable for that added comfort when doing long climbs, extra lumbar padding so that the lower back and waist are secured, and a haul loop is present if ever they need to carry a secondary rope.
[showing difference of gear hoops]
Ice and mixed harnesses
This type is similar to the traditional harness but its material is suitable for colder and harsher weather conditions. There are added gear loops and clipper slots for ice screws and tools.
[highlight material/ fabric of ice harness]
Harnesses could have an added description saying “for men” or “for women” and don’t worry, it’s not just because of a color change. These specialized harnesses are designed for the women’s physique, and they altered it based on a shapelier waist belt and a reduction in the leg-to-waist ratio.
[showing difference of shape]
You have probably seen cute toddlers testing out their skills in climbing wearing a full body harness. Since young children have a rather higher center of gravity, this type of harness is preferred. It’s best to work for children 5 years and below.
[illustration of a kid’s harness]