Best Climbing Harness – 2020

Whether you’re top-roping in the gym or climbing an actual mountain, you’ll want the best harness for the job. In addition to being a vital part of every climber’s safety, harnesses offer varying levels of comfort, adjustment, organization, and weight. Our top picks for the best climbing harnesses of 2020 below highlight a diverse selection of leading models for all disciplines including sport, trad, big wall, alpine, and the gym.

a person climbing with a harness

There is a diverse range of climbing harnesses available in the market and it can be overwhelming to pick the best one for yourself, so we are going to lay out everything you will want to know all in one place. Do you want to learn more about harness parts and features? Start with our review below to choose the perfect climbing harness for yourself. 

So without any further ado, let’s check out all our top picks and their gory details.

Climbing Harness – A Buyers Guide

What type of Climbing Harness will suit me the Best?

The more choice you have, the harder it is to choose. The same scenario applies to choose a correctly fitting climbing harness that would satisfy all your gear needs. Are adjustable leg loops important to you? Do you often find yourself looking for more gear loops to attach your stuff? Are you planning on climbing in icy conditions? Manufacturers tend to create climbing harnesses that are designated for one or another type of climbing, which is why you should take every single little detail into consideration before buying one. Check the various types of climbing scenarios below and pick your climbing harness accordingly.

Sport Climbing

In this case, the low weight of your climbing gear is the feature you should be looking for. Your harness should be able to support your quick body movements and not restrict any motions. There is no need for heavy and bulky gear loops that would slow you down and add extra weight.

Big Wall Climbing

It takes time to climb a big wall, which means that hefty and feature-rich climbing harnesses are what you should be looking for. They are usually padded for additional comfort, have an extensive amount of loops and have a look of the bulletproof vest. You might not be moving with the speed of light, but you will eventually conquer that massive rock.

Trad Climbing

You will undergo multi-pitching often enough to need a climbing harness that is made from durable material that allows you to hang comfortably. It must have more features than the sport climbing harness, but not so many that would add to its weight. Basically, a wide and padded waistband made from foam with 4 gear loops and a centered haul loop will suffice.

Mountaineering

There is generally no hanging or falling involved in mountaineering, so the focus should be made on your comfort more than on anything else. Your climbing harness must be quick and easy to put on and take off to the point where you feel comfortable walking with it. It would also be a nice touch if your harness was as lightweight as possible since your clothing already takes quite a bit of space.

Alpine Climbing

The combination of light and fast is what alpine climbing implies. Your climbing harness has to do the seemingly impossible – feature large loops, be durable, packable, and lightweight all at the same time. Ideally, it should also include ice clipper slots and adjustable leg loops for sufficient storage and leg comfort. Luckily, there are climbing harnesses like this on the market.

Gym Climbing

Perhaps the least demanding climbing type calls for a simple but durable climbing harness that would, most of all, improve your climbing skills. No large loops or tech-savvy technologies are required as this would only add up to the harness’s price. And that is not what you should be looking for. Rather, your climbing harness should cost as little as possible, be comfortable, and last you a good amount of time.

Climbing Harness Safety Ratings

All climbing gear that is part of your safety system (i.e. climbing rope, harness, carabiners, cams, quickdraws, etc.) is certified to hold a certain force, represented by a kilonewton (kN) rating. Without getting too deep into the details, a 1 kN-rating means a piece of gear can handle about 100 kilograms (or 220 pounds) of static weight. The amount of weight a kN represents decreases as the force of the fall increases—a lead fall, for example, will exert far more force on your gear than a static top-rope fall. Climbing gear, including harnesses, is usually rated in the range of about 14-25 kN.

Climbing harnesses are so strong that the number doesn’t matter so much as knowing which parts of your harness are engineered to handle force, and which are not. You can count on a harness’ tie-in points and belay loop to always be fully-rated, as this is where you’ll attach the rope and belay device. Aside from these main connection points, it’s good practice not to rely on any other part of your harness (a gear loop or leg loop, for example) for safety. The rare harness has a rated haul loop, which is essential for when you’re attaching it to a line with a loaded haul bag. And then there’s the Metolius Safe Tech Deluxe: more fool-proof than any other harness on the market, all loops on this harness, including leg risers, are engineered to withstand at least 10kN of force.

Price Range for a Climbing Harness 

Rather than focusing on style, type of climbing, or materials used, it’s sometimes helpful to think of harnesses grouped according to price. Between around $50-$70, think entry-level gym models and mountaineering harnesses (as well as sale items from past-year models). These will get the job done but aren’t your most comfortable options (especially for hang dogging). In the $70-$100 windows are your typical mid-range models, where you can find excellent sport climbing harnesses as well as some decent trad harnesses. We recommend most people end their search here. Finally, in the $100+ category are top-of-the-line harnesses for serious climbers. If you’re shopping at this price point, you’re probably planning to spend a lot of time in your harness and take it to some pretty extreme places. 

Proper Adjustability & Size 

Sizing your harness appropriately is as important as getting the right harness for your preferred type of climbing. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as walking into the store and choosing a medium-sized harness since that’s what you normally wear in pants. Sizing involves considering everything from the length of the belay loop (shorter ones force the leg loops higher into the crotch—uncomfortable for people with high hips), to the physical shape of the waist belt, to the amount of adjustability offered in the waist and leg buckles. It’s also important to note that not all harnesses have leg buckles, but we do recommend them for those with larger legs or winter climbers who need the ability to add or subtract layers.

As with anything you wear, it’s a good idea to try a harness on before you buy it. Go into the store, put it on, adjust it properly (the waist belt should sit higher than you wear your pants—right above your hips), and actually hang in it (most climbing shops and gyms have an area for you to do so). If you have the option, take some falls in the harness and see how it feels. Keep in mind that a harness doesn’t need to be ultra-tight to be safe—you should be able to fit two fingers between your body and the waistbelt or leg loops. All harnesses will have elastic risers to help keep the leg loops riding near the apex of your thighs. Some are releasable with small buckles for easy bathroom breaks, while others are not. These should be cinched tight enough that your leg loops stay in place, but not so tight that they restrict your movement.

Best Climbing Harnesses – Our Top 10 Picks of 2020!

1) Petzl Sama

PETZL Sama

Check Petzl Sama on Amazon

Pros Cons
High level of comfort and a relatively low weight Not suitable for ice and mountaineering climbing
The loops arrangement works great with almost any kind of rock climbing The waist belt has the tendency to slightly ride up when hanging
Affordable

Key Features: 

  • Material: polyester, nylon, EVA, aluminum, polyurethane, and high-modulus polyethylene
  • Waist size: 30-33 inches
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Leg loop size: 20.5 – 22.4 inches
  • Weight: 385 grams

Our Review:

Beloved sports gear brand Petzl has nailed it yet again with Sama harness this time. Its denim-like pattern along with grey coloring is memorable – just like the upcoming climbing adventure of yours. You will feel your most comfortable wearing a safety cushion that has elasticized leg loops and a flexible waistband. The EnfoGrame structure will add up to your level of comfort as it helps to distribute the weight accordingly. This universal climbing harness is exceptionally versatile – it is suitable for almost any type of rock climbing. Sport climbing, trad climbing, or gym bouldering – you name it, the harness can be appropriated to any scenario. The abundance of front and back loops allows you to climb with no restrictions, which means that you will not be stopped in the face of your adversity by anything.

2) Arc’teryx FL-365

Arc'teryx FL-365 Check Arc’teryx FL-365 on Amazon

Pros Cons
The construction is slim yet tough Expensive
The level of safety is particularly high
The material is of a top-grade quality

Key Features:

  • Material: Burly Double Weave (50% nylon, 43% polyester, 7% elastane)
  • Buckles: 7075-T6 aluminum, single self-locking waist
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Weight: 366 grams
  • Recommended use: professional climbing

Our Review:

Standing for Fast and Light, this model of a climbing harness is a premium piece of gear that has a fair share of adorers. It feels like a second skin when you are wearing it, and we can vouch for this being essential when climbing tricky surfaces. The Warp Strength Technology enables the climber to disperse the load evenly throughout the entire waist belt. This means that you will be fully supported while also not feeling bulky equipment packed on your already tense body. The material is stretchy, the gear loops are of a perfect size, the leg loops snug every body shape, the ice clipper, and the haul loop make the gear versatile – what else is there to wish for? Believe us when we say that aspiring climbers are able to achieve their ambitious goals with the help of this harness in no time.

3) Edelrid Jay III

EDELRID Jay III Check Edelrid Jay III on Amazon

Pros Cons
Female version of this harness is available Not packable
Eco-friendly harness
Adjustable climbing harness

Key Features: 

  • Material: Bluesign-certified fabric including Dyneema and polyester
  • Waist size: 27.6 – 37.4 inches
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Weight: 410 grams
  • Recommended use: climbing

Our Review:

Are you tired of climbing harnesses that do the trick but are unreasonably expensive? Here’s where the Jay III model by Edelrid comes to rescue. Not only is it affordable but it is also well-built and is highly adjustable. It fits so well you will forget to take it off when you are finished climbing that icy mountain. The 3D mesh padding designed for this harness ensures the maximum comfort, while the ergonomic waistbelt secures your body and doesn’t let it slip. The belay loops are made to sit well down the center of your figure and not weigh you down. The movable leg loops are useful for adjusting the fit of your feet and thus contribute to the overall climbing safety. No matter what body type you are, Jay III is created to properly fit you and prepare you for the anticipated climb.

4) Black Diamond Solution

Black Diamond Men's Solution Check Black Diamond Solution on Amazon

Pros Cons
The comfort of this harness is undeniable Not versatile
Affordable
Stylish

Key Features:

  • Material: Bluesign-certified fabric including foam and split webbing
  • Waist size: 30 – 33 inches
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Weight: 330 grams
  • Recommended use: entry-level climbing

Our Review:

Take a close look at this Arc’teryx FL-365 dupe – it will send shivers down your spine in the best way possible. The Solution released by Black Diamond costs a fraction of the FL-365 price but has a similar level of quality and sturdiness. How is that possible? The company prioritized the highly qualitative construction of the climbing harness and stuck to giving it a cragg climbing specialization. As a result, a perfectly fitting gear that moves with your body was created. It has a Fusion Comfort Technology that allocates the weight proportionately and releasable elastic risers that ensure your contentment with your equipment. Feel free to practice your climbing skills in the gym settings or in the rocks of the nearby park as long as you want – there are no limitations.

5) Mammut Ophir 4 Slide

Mammut Ophir 4 Slide Check Mammut Ophir 4 Slide on Amazon

Pros Cons
Sturdy gear loops Not versatile
Loops stay scratchless and faultless for long 
Adjustable

Key Features:

  • Buckles: Slide Bloc
  • Haul loop: 2 kN
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Weight: 397 grams
  • Recommended use: climbing

Our Review:

The brand’s most versatile climbing harness is hands down the Ophir 4 Slide. It holds the climber’s body well regardless of the weather conditions. Be it a freezing winter or a steaming hot summer – you will be secured in your Mammut harness. The model incorporates a Split Webbing Technology that is responsible for reducing the harness’s weight that can easily transfer to your body weight and for increasing the overall ventilation. This eliminates the need for additional padding that might restrict your movement. And, let’s face it, that’s the last thing you need when the peak of the rock is 4 meters away from reach. You will be able to use the harness for years as it has a built-in tie-in protector that prolongs the equipment’s life.

6) Petzl Sitta

PETZL - SITTA Check Petzl Sitta on Amazon

Pros Cons
Lightweight Expensive
Built is premium and long-lasting 
Adjustable

Key Features:

  • Buckles: single self-locking waist
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Weight: 269 grams
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Recommended use: climbing, mountaineering

Our Review:

You won’t believe the support and comfort this harness provides in addition to its looks and is super lightweight. We didn’t either, but then we tested it and became the believers. The Petzl built is superior, and this is backed by the harness’s WireFrame Technology. This mechanism implies that the weight is distributed evenly due to the light and sturdy Spectra strands. They ensure your optimal comfort by dispersing the load among the leg loops and the waist belt. This model didn’t even need to integrate some kind of a foam padding for the extra support – the aforementioned technology paired with two Caritool ice clippers is enough. You can gain this assurance yourself – check all the features of this harness and you will want to click the ‘add to cart’ button straight away.

7) Black Diamond Primrose

 Click image to open expanded view Black Diamond Primrose

Check Black Diamond Primrose on Amazon

Pros Cons
Lightweight Does not offer great durability
Flexible construction 
Adjustable

Key Features:

  • Material: synthetic
  • Buckle: adjustable
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Weight: 350 grams
  • Recommended use: climbing

Our Review:

Having researched and tested a big number of sports gear, we came to the realization that there is not enough equipment designed for women specifically. On this basis, we decided to give the Black Diamon’s Primrose a shot and, truth to be told, remained pleasantly surprised. Women of all shapes and sizes will find it fitting as it is flexible enough to include an adjustable waist with leg loops located higher than usual. TrakFit technology is added to support this statement. This harness is also distinguished by its low weight that is especially handy for women that cannot bear wearing heavy equipment. Indeed, it is good to know that nothing is going to weigh you down when performing those multi-pitch climbs.

8) Petzl Adjama

PETZL Adjama Harness

Check Petzl Adjama on Amazon

Pros Cons
Compatible with the Caritool holder It is quite heavy compared to other Petzl models
Flexible construction 
Foam and split webbing ensure the maximum level of comfort

Key Features:

  • Material: nylon, polyester, EVA, polyurethane, aluminum, high-modulus polyethylene
  • Waist size: 30-33 inches
  • Gear loops: 5
  • Leg loop size: 20 – 24 inches
  • Weight: 485 grams
  • Recommended use: climbing

Our Review:

Did you think 4 gear loops is a lot? Wait until you see that Petzel’s Adjama has 5 of them in total: 2 front loops for the ease of gear accessibility, 2 back loops for relieving tension, and 1 loop in the center for clipping either a belay device or a climbing accessory. With such a wide array of loops, you are fully stacked for your next trad climb. The adjustable and padded leg loops ensure comfort during your climb, while the flexible waist belt allows for the free body movements all throughout the climbing practice. The Petzl quality is hardly beatable – it is what made the brand become the ‘go-to’ sports gear for many generations of avid climbers. Who knows – you might fall in love with this climbing harness and join the community too.

9) Black Diamond Big Gun

Black Diamond Big Gun Climbing Harness Check Black Diamond Big Gun on Amazon

Pros Cons
Most feature-rich climbing harness  Bulky
Flexible construction 
Extremely sturdy and long-lasting

Key Features:

  • Waist size: 30-33 inches
  • Gear loops: 7
  • Leg loop size: 20 – 24 inches
  • Weight: 660 grams
  • Recommended use: climbing

Our Review:

This bulky number right here is great for 20+ pitch big wall climbing – we can attest to that. Its features are designed for holding you in and not letting you slip at any point of the climb. The waistbelt along with leg loops is heavily padded and can accommodate any kind of a climber. You won’t be bored during your climb thanks to the 7 gear loops that come with the harness. Attach your favorite pair of shoes, a hefty bottle of water, and a few more knickknacks, and you are set for a good while. If you are planning on sleeping during those long climbs, it is possible too. The Big Gun has detachable leg loops that can be taken off whenever you feel like taking a nap. Your level of comfort while sleeping with a harness on will strike high through the roof.

10) Black Diamond Momentum

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

Check Black Diamond Momentum on Amazon

Pros Cons
Construction is able to accommodate every type of climber  Runs small
Affordable
Sturdy

Key Features:

  • Buckles: Speed Adjust (self-locking)
  • Gear loops: 4
  • Leg loop mechanism: TrakFit
  • Weight: 340 grams
  • Recommended use: climbing

Our Review:

One of the company’s best-selling climbing harnesses has earned its sweet spot due to the enticing combination of quality and price. Novices practicing their climbing skills at the gym and experts embarking on long climbs have found Momentum to work well for them. You can tell straight away how comfortable it’s going to be – the cushioning on the leg loops and on the belt speak for themselves. The leg loops also have a built-in TrakFit technology making them adjustable, while the waist belt has a buckle that makes it match with the leg loops’ level of comfortability. Wear it during the boiling heat of the summer or in the icy winter – it’s all the same for this Black Diamond climbing harness. Just make sure to use the organizational haul loop that will surely add more flexibility to your training.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: Do I need to purchase a climbing harness?

If you are planning on immersing yourself into climbing or are simply looking to upgrade your climbing harness, the natural answer to this question is ‘yes’. It makes perfect sense to invest in one as it is a crucial piece of gear that ensures your ultimate safety. And, as we are familiarized with precautions connected with extreme sports, safety should be on the first place of your priority list. By purchasing a climbing harness, you simultaneously procure a literal safety net that is going to protect you from potential injuries. This is why you must do your research beforehand and choose the climbing harness that is sturdy and durable. You want your climbing equipment to last you at least a few years before you retire it and upgrade to a new one. Another essential criterion is the level of comfort your harness provides. It is the case when the higher is the better. We call it a common-sense – you are bound to enjoy your climb a lot more when you feel comfortable and secure.

Question 2: Is there a difference between the men’s and women’s climbing harnesses?

You’d like to think that sports gear brands are coming out with climbing harnesses that are targeted towards both men and women, but that’s not always the case. Whether the complications arise with developing the right sizing and shape or companies simply don’t bother to put an extra effort into developing two separate harnesses, it is what it is. With that said, you are not prohibited from using a men’s harness if you are a woman and vice versa. It may even be that you’ll find men’s harness to be more comfortable than the one designed specifically for women or the other way around. If it fits you well, then there should be nothing stopping you from opting for it. And even though women-oriented climbing harnesses tend to have higher located leg loops while men-oriented ones are stiffer, it comes down to your personal preference

Question 3: Split webbing and foam – what is their use?

A long time ago climbing harnesses were considered to be a luxury for many climbers. They were constructed from cheap over-the-counter materials that didn’t ensure comfort. As the years went by and climbing started gaining momentum, brands from all over the world started investing in producing highly qualitative gear that resembled nothing like the old third-rate harnesses. It incorporated padding, gear, and rear loops and other features that made climbing an exciting sport. The two prominent innovations include split-webbing and foam, both of which are used for distributing the load.

Foam is included in many climbing harnesses to provide the climber with additional comfort and a soft catch when hanging during the climb. It also helps to distribute the load evenly, especially in times when you decide to attach to your harness a lot of stuff. Even so, there are a few cons to the foam construction we have to mention. Some climbing harnesses end up weighing more due to the heaviness of the foam and the hindered airflow. The long lastingness of the foam’s initial shape is also questionable as it is observed to get worn out quite quickly. That is not to say that foam is of no use and you should stay away from it. Rather, brands like Beal and Edelrid have managed to add mesh or perforation to the foam with the aim to make it breathable and lightweight. If you are an entry-level climber whose practices mainly occur in gym settings, we would definitely recommend purchasing a harness with foam.

Split webbing, on the other hand, was an innovation released by the famed Arc’teryx that was looking to create an alternative to foam. What they essentially did was take a piece of webbing and splitting it in width while also distributing the strands evenly throughout the waist belt and leg loops. This new mechanism allowed climbers to move freely with the harness without feeling like it restricts movements due to its bulkiness and heaviness. Soon after other brands including Black Diamond and Petzl jumped on the bandwagon and released split webbing climbing harnesses of their own. The two technologies are not mutually exclusive, however, meaning that you will still find companies issuing climbing harnesses that integrate a thin layer of foam and split webbing in the harness. This makes the climbing equipment lightweight, durable, and comfortable all at the same time.

Question 4: For how long can I use my climbing harness before it’s time to throw it away?

Although a lot of tools in the climbing equipment are easily replaceable, the climbing harness is something that climbers rely on immensely. It has to be sturdy and long-lasting – this way your investment will pay off in a few months. For this reason, you better take care of it before it’s too late and the only option left is to splurge on another harness. After each climb, inspect your harness for fuzzy pieces or any signs of fraying, including the fabric attached to the belay loop. Do not ignore the care instructions provided by the manufacturer as they are developed specifically for prolonging the life of your climbing harness. Due to the construction of the climbing harness playing the most significant role in its longevity, it is crucial to choose the one that meets your requirements and doesn’t compromise any of them. This way you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of a climbing harness for longer. And remember, as soon as you notice server signs of wear and tear – retire it! It might not end up serving you the typical 7 years stated by the manufacturer, but it could potentially save your life.

Conclusion

While we’ve done our best to provide you with great recommendations for the best climbing harness depending on whether you are looking for the best value, the best all-around harness, one for sport climbing, multi-pitch climbing, or the lightest harness, the truth is that the best harness for you will be the one that matches your needs and is the most comfortable for you. We hope that the information provided here has been useful in your search, and we wish you happy climbing!

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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