While some prefer the rush of free climbing, for the rest of us, anything that involves our feet leaving the ground requires a sturdy, reliable climbing harness. What kind of harness you need will depend on your personal preferences as well as the type of climbing you do most often. We’ve compiled a list of the best climbing harnesses for different categories to help you find the right one for you!
Top Picks: Best Climbing Harnesses
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the bottom line:
- Best Overall: Black Diamond Momentum. This lightweight harness features a Speed Adjust waist buckle and dual-core padding for the optimal balance of proper fit and optimal comfort, all at a reasonable price.
- Best on a Budget: Petzl Sama. It’s lightweight, comfortable, adjustable, and best of all— it won’t break the bank!
- The “Green” Pick: Black Diamond Solution. This contoured Fusion Comfort Technology harness is made from Bluesign-approved fabric to minimize environmental impact.
- Best for Beginners: Mammut Ophir 3. Highly adjustable without being too complicated to get the hang of, this versatile harness is perfect for the new climber looking to expand their horizons.
- Best for Trad: Edelrid Jay III. Ergonomic contours, “floating” padding that keeps gear loops always centered, and an abrasion protector makes this harness perfect for trad climbing.
- Best for Ice Climbing: Arc’teryx AR-395A. With a name like Arc’teryx, you can rest assured you’re getting a harness well-suited to cold-weather climbing.
- Best for Kids: Petzl Macchu. This fully adjustable harness is designed to grow with your child and comes in two fun colors to suit their preference.
1. Black Diamond Momentum
The best climbing harnesses overall
Brand: Black Diamond | Best Use: Sport, Gym, Trad | Gear Loops: 4 | Weight: 10.6 oz | Price: 💰💰
When it comes to the best climbing harness, the consensus is, without a doubt, the Black Diamond Momentum. At just 10.6 ounces, this harness is much lighter weight than many of its competition, and with 4 pressure-molded gear loops, you won’t want for room to bring all your tools with you. Black Diamond’s signature Speed Adjust waist buckle, along with their TrakFit adjustable leg loops, makes getting strapped in fast and easy. Therefore, you can spend less time getting ready and more time climbing. The dual-core padding offers plenty of cushioned support that will sit snugly without constricting.
- Suitable for beginners and advanced climbers alike
- Bullhorn shape with dual-core cushioning for optimal comfort
- At just 10.6 ounces, you won’t have your harness weighing you down
- Some have experienced severe discomfort around the waist
- A few reviewers mentioned this harness might not be the best for big walls, noting some constriction in the legs
2. Petzl Sama
The best budget climbing harnesses
Brand: Petzl | Best Use: Sport, Indoor, Trad | Gear Loops: 4 | Weight: 13.7 oz | Price: 💰💰
While some can ring in at well over $100, you don’t have to break into your emergency fund to afford a quality climbing harness. And at less than $60, no one proves this better than the Petzl Sama. This versatile harness is suitable for sport, indoor, and trad climbing and weighs in at a modest 13.7 ounces. Elastic in the leg loops help customize the fit and ensure they remain snug no matter what position you find yourself in. The waistband is designed slimmer in the front for optimal comfort and freedom of movement.
- Lightweight, padded design is comfortable to wear over long periods
- Versatile climbing harness for multiple applications at an unbeatable price
- Multiple gear loops so you can bring all your tools with you and keep them organized
- Some reviewers wished the leg loops were adjustable to get a better fit
- A few reviewers mentioned that the adjustable waist strap appeared to pull to one side
3. Black Diamond Solution
The best eco-friendly climbing harnesses
Brand: Black Diamond | Best Use: Sport | Gear Loops: 4 | Weight: 12.3 oz | Price: 💰💰💰
If you’re looking for a climbing harness, chances are you’re interested in climbing things outside. And if you’re the kind of person who likes to spend time outside, then it’s probably safe to say you care about the outside and want to protect it. So why not choose a climbing harness that’s eco-friendly? Black Diamond’s Solution harness is made from Bluesign-approved materials, so you can rest assured that it has minimal environmental impact.
- Adjustable, releasable elastic risers
- Contoured waist belt and leg loops for additional comfort
- Fusion Comfort Technology distributes load evenly for unmatched comfort
- A few reviewers wished the leg loops were adjustable as well as elastic
- Some others feel the gear loops are in awkward locations which leaves them fumbling
4. Mammut Ophir 3
The best beginners climbing harnesses
Brand: Mammut | Best Use: Gym, Trad, Alpine | Gear Loops: 4 | Weight: 13 oz | Price: 💰💰
If you’re new to the world of climbing, the Mammut Ophir 3 is universally considered to be one of the best climbing harnesses for beginners. This multi-purpose harness is highly adjustable, so you can use it with whatever clothing and equipment are appropriate for your environment. Additionally, it’s not too complicated to get the hang of. Split webbing and padded mesh help ensure you are both comfortable and supported all the way around, while the self-locking Slide Bloc buckles on the waist belt and leg loops help keep you safe and secure.
- Adjustable leg loops for optimal fit and support
- 4 rigid gear loops, along with a haul loop and chalk bag hanger for easy equipment organization
- A versatile, multi-use harness at a reasonable price point, perfect for beginners who aren’t sure what they’re into yet
- Loops could be too rigid for some
- May require additional fitting for those who are taller
5. Edelrid Jay III
The best trad climbing harnesses
Brand: Edelrid | Best Use: Gym, Sport, Trad | Gear Loops: 4 | Weight: 14.5 oz | Price: 💰💰
For the avid trad climber, consider the Edelrid Jay III. This harness features an ergonomic waist belt made with 3D mesh padding that overlaps the edge of the band, offering maximum comfort without hindering freedom of movement. The movable padding also ensures the gear loops at the hips stay centered at all times, so your equipment is exactly where you need it, when you need it. Edelrid’s patented Dyneema and polyester textile abrasion protector ensures an extra-long life for the tie-in point so that you can have long-term peace of mind.
- Great for pros and beginners alike
- “Floating” padding ensures loops are always centered, which is vital
- Great price for a sturdy, reliable harness with all the features needed for trad climbing
- A few experienced poor leg loop quality
- Some reviewers missed the larger haul loop that comes standard on most other harnesses
6. Arc’teryx AR-395A
The best ice climbing harnesses
Brand: Arc’teryx | Best Use: Sport, Trad, Alpine, Mixed, Ice | Gear Loops: 4 | Weight: 13.6 oz | Price: 💰💰💰💰
Arc’teryx is a highly respected outdoor gear brand with an emphasis on cold-weather gear, so it’s no surprise that the best ice climbing harness comes from them. Warp Strength technology keeps weight evenly distributed at all times, while the adjustable leg loops and drop-seat buckle system ensure a snug, comfortable fit the first time. And with 4 gear loops, 4 ice clipper slots, and a real haul hoop, you’ll have plenty of space for all your ice climbing gear.
- 4 ice clipper slots for rack space
- Self-locking buckles tighten quick and easy for minute adjustments
- Double weave material with four-way stretch for optimal comfort and durability
- A few reviewers mentioned having issues getting the best fit but seemed to like their harness once they did
- One reviewer noted that the gear loops tilt forward, which can lead to gear bunching up on top of one another
7. Petzl Macchu
The best kids climbing harnesses
Brand: Petzl | Best Use: Kinds Under 88 lbs | Gear Loops: 2 | Weight: 11.8 oz | Price: 💰
The best kids climbing harness.
Manufacturer/Brand: Petzl | Best Use: Kids Under 88 lbs | Gear Loops: 2 | Weight: 11.8 oz | Price: 💰49.95
If you’re looking to introduce a child in your life to the joys of climbing, Petzl’s Macchu is the perfect beginner harness to get them started. Every strap is adjustable to ensure a snug, secure fit for your peace of mind that can easily accommodate growth over time. Dual double back buckles keep both tie-in points in the proper position, while ENDOFRAME technology ensures even weight distribution. Both the waist belt and leg loops have padding for additional comfort. Plus, choose from blue or purple color options to suit your child’s preference!
- 2 rigid gear loops with additional accessory loop for chalk bag
- Fully adjustable, padded waist belt and leg loops ensure optimal comfort and snug support
- Designed to grow with your child, so you don’t have to replace the harness as they gain inches
- Some have experienced long delivery times
- Price point could be a little high for a quickly growing child
What to Look for in the Best Climbing Harness
There are a lot of different features and characteristics to consider when choosing a climbing harness, and a lot of them will depend on the type of climbing you’re planning on doing:
Indoor Climbing focuses more on athletic ability rather than adventure. Pretty much any style of climbing harness will work for indoor recreational gym climbing. The biggest factor when selecting a harness for indoor climbing is making sure it’s comfortable. You’ll be hanging and belaying in it a lot, after all, and you don’t want to end up with skin irritations!
Traditional, or trad climbing, refers to pretty much any outdoor climbing, though it usually means rock and mountain climbing. Trad requires a sturdier harness than what you would use when climbing in a gym, and abrasion-resistance is a must. Comfort is still super important since you’ll likely have longer belay periods than at the gym. You’ll also probably have to carry the harness in a backpack to and from your destination, so something lighter weight is preferable.
Harnesses for ice climbing are specifically designed to handle harsh, cold environments. These usually have extra padding on the lumbar region and adjustable leg loops with buckles, and will likely weigh more than traditional harnesses.
With that in mind, here are some of the most important factors when choosing any climbing harness:
Regardless of features, one of the most important things to consider when choosing the best climbing harness for yourself is comfort. The best way to get a comfortable harness is to get one that fits properly, so be sure to check measurements and measure yourself. Even the most padded harness won’t be comfortable if it’s the wrong size for you. The easiest way to ensure you get the right fit is by going to a gear shop and trying on different harnesses.
Your climbing harness will wrap around your hips or at your waist, depending on your body type. Choose whichever feels most comfortable and natural to you. Women typically prefer a harness on the waist. Either way, make sure that the belt cinches tightly and holds securely. When the waist belt fits properly, the belay loop and the other gear loops will be centered. You should be able to fit a couple of fingers in between you and the harness, but not more. Too tight and it will hurt to walk around, but too loose, and it will ride up when you are hanging.
The leg loops aren’t meant to be as tight as the belt around your waist or hips, but they should still be snug. Nowadays, leg loops are often fixed with an elastic section, so they don’t require buckles. While this does help reduce the weight of the harness, it also means the leg loops aren’t as adjustable. Leg loop sizing will vary from one manufacturer to the other. Be sure to double-check the leg fit—the last thing you want is a snug waist belt but leg loops that are either so tight they hurt or loose enough that they aren’t supportive.
Harness rise refers to the distance between the back of each leg loop and the waist belt. This is an important measurement to make sure the harness is comfortable. If the rise is too short, the leg loops will sit too high on your thighs, and you’ll tip backward when hanging. If the rise is too long, on the other hand, then the leg loops will hang too low and can hurt your hips.
Proper harness rise will keep you upright and properly balanced each time you fall as well as when you’re hanging. If it takes effort to stay upright, your harness rise is probably wrong for your body. The best rock climbing harness will have a strap that allows you to adjust the rise so that you can tailor the fit just right for you.
For this guide on Best Climbing Harnesses, our team spent 3 hours researching the most popular options from over 15 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about eighty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each climbing harnesses. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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