If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best rock climbing harness is, we recommend the Petzl Corax Climbing Harness.
When it comes to rock climbing, there really is no such thing as a useless piece of gear. Everything has a purpose, and is vital for your safety in one way or another…however, some items are arguably more valuable than others. Your climbing harness is one of these vital lifelines, making it all the more essential that you find the best one you possibly can. You can climb without a belay device, chalk, climbing shoes, and accessory cord, but you can’t (safely) climb without a harness. Let’s look at what makes the best climbing harness before diving into individual reviews.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following harnesses:
An incredibly important factor for any harness, it’s no wonder it’s hard to find any that are “one size fits all.” Rock climbers basically live in their harnesses, so wearing one that’s too small is going to be a painful experience after a certain amount of time. However, going too big is also problematic if you end up running the risk of sliding out of it at the worst possible time, especially if you’re carrying a heavy rack of quickdraws and related gear. Find a size that’s loose enough where you can sit comfortably in it all day, but is still tight enough where it won’t fall below your hips.
This one shouldn’t take much explanation. Whether you’ve called for a “take,” or you fell and need some time to catch your breath, you’ll find yourself weighting your harness multiple times a day. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll want something soft and cushy digging into your legs and crotch area, otherwise you’re in for a world of pain. Some harnesses have more padding than others, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference when you’re determining what you want. Personally, I like a slimmer profile and enough cushion to be able to tolerate sitting in my harness for an extended period of time, though I try to avoid hanging around for too long. My girlfriend, on the other hand, likes to have a bit more padding than I do.
Hard Points and Belay Loop
Not all harnesses are created equal when it comes to these features. The most common design is having your 2 hard points on top of each other with your belay loop connecting them, but there are some harnesses that only have a single loop to tie into and belay from. I wouldn’t recommend using these.
As you continue to learn how to climb, you’ll probably find that the harnesses with a single loop are far less comfortable than the other style. They tend to be more of a one size fits all design, meaning some padding had to be left out so they could accommodate any body type. In addition to that, having one loop means that all of the wear from climbing and belaying is being put on a single point, instead of being spread out among multiple areas. This will wear out your gear faster, which is never a good thing.
Double Back Buckles
Most climbing harnesses are designed with buckles that are already double backed (meaning, the belt comes through the buckle and then folds back through it again). These are the most secure type of buckles, and the only thing you should be climbing on. However, not all harnesses come with buckles that are already double backed – sometimes you’ll have to do this yourself, whether it comes that way or the buckle comes undone by itself. Keep an eye on it every time you put it on.
Best Climbing Harness Reviews
The Petzl Corax is actually the harness that I’ve climbed in for the last several years. It’s without a doubt the best harness I’ve ever worn, and is probably the harness I’ll get again when my current one wears out. Both the waist and leg loops have double backed buckles that are easily adjustable, allowing this harness to fit most body types. As I mentioned before, I like a more streamlined design without giving up on comfort completely, and the Corax has done just that for me. There’s enough padding to stay comfortable enough while you’re hanging out, but not too much where it starts to feel bulky and awkward.
Once you’ve cinched the waist loop to your desired tightness, there are a couple elastic bands that keep the excess belt close to your body. Additionally, there are plenty of loops spread around the harness to attach your gear, as well as a smaller band in the back for you to clip your chalk bag.
– Streamlined design
– Plenty of gear loops
– Double backed buckles
– Adjustable to fit many body types
– Sturdy belay loop and hard points
– Padding might not be sufficient enough for some climbers
A friend of mine climbs with the Black Diamond Momentum harness and absolutely loves it. Of course, most of his gear is made by Black Diamond so he might be a little biased, but having worn his harness a couple of times, I have to agree that it’s a good product.
While not really my style, I have to admit that this product is a true tank. Everything is reinforced, double stitched, or ultra padded for maximum security and comfort. For how inexpensive it is, it certainly has the feel of an extremely high quality product, making it a great choice for beginner/intermediate climbers.
The interesting thing about this harness is that it doesn’t have any buckles. Instead, Black Diamond incorporated their trakFIT technology that uses a slider adjuster to provide a secure fit. I have to admit, I’m still not really sure how I feel about this…but from my experience, I haven’t had any issues with the straps tightening or loosening on their own.
– Reinforced and double stitched material
– Ultra padded
– Inexpensive for the quality you get
– New trakFIT technology
– Sizing can be a little tricky – I recommend ordering a size up
Another one by Petzl, this is the harness that my girlfriend swears by and would recommend for any female climber. She’s my primary belayer, and the leg straps can dig into her skin when she’s holding my weight (I’m about 70 pounds heavier than her) but this harness doesn’t give her any problems. The padding is a lot thicker than it is on my harness, and the design took into account the contours of a woman’s stereotypically wider hips.
Because it’s a product designed for women, it does only come in female gendered colors. Some of you might like this, some of you might not – I personally wish there was an option with neutral colors. However, in the grand scheme of things, having the colors be my biggest complaint isn’t much of a problem.
With double backed buckles and plenty of gear loops, this harness has all of the features that you would ever want or need. My girlfriend has put hers through countless times at the gym and many visits to crags in multiple states, and it stills shows almost no sign of wear.
– Great design for women
– Extra padding
– Double backed buckles
– Plenty of gear loops
– Color choices
– One waist strap
Finding the right climbing harness is an important step to take. When I first starting climbing, I went far too long just being content to rent a mediocre harness from the gym I climbed at, not realizing how much better (and cheaper) it would be if I just bought my own. Through trial and error, I eventually ended up with the Petzl Corax, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I love how there’s an adjustable waist strap on both sides, so I can tighten it evenly. The harness fits comfortably around my waist and legs, and the double backed buckles are a breeze to adjust. Even though it doesn’t have as much padding as the other harnesses in this review, I’ve never had an issue with comfort, even after climbing and belaying all day. As long as you get the right size, I’ve found almost nothing to complain about with this product, and would gladly get it again when my current one wears out.
Need some shoes to go with your harness? Check out our review on some of the best climbing shoes here!