A climbing harness
is a piece of equipment
A wide range of equipment is used during rock climbing. The most popular types of climbing equipment are briefly described in this article. The article on protecting a climb describes equipment commonly used to protect a climber against the consequences of a fall....
used in certain types of rock-climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...
Abseiling , rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.- Slang terms :...
or other activities requiring the use of ropes to provide access or safety (e.g. industrial rope access, working at heights, etc.). A harness is used to secure a person to a piece of rope
A rope is a length of fibres, twisted or braided together to improve strength for pulling and connecting. It has tensile strength but is too flexible to provide compressive strength...
or an anchor point.
In its simplest form, a harness can be made from a length of rope or a nylon webbing tied round the waist. More sophisticated harnesses exist in many patterns, designed to give greater comfort and security, and more options for carrying equipment. Among the most popular hand tied harnesses are the Swiss Seat and Studebaker Wrap.
While harnesses can be improvised it is more common to use harness commercially produced which often include built in padding and amenities such as gear loops. Most commercial climbing harness meet the guidelines and manufacturing standards of organizations such as the Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme
The UIAA or Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme, is the organization that represents several million mountaineers and climbers, world-wide, on international issues. Formed in 1932 in Chamonix, France, it now has over 88 members associations from some 76 countries, all of national...
or European Committee for Standardization
The European Committee for Standardization or Comité Européen de Normalisation , is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to foster the European economy in global trading, the welfare of European citizens and the environment by providing an efficient infrastructure to interested parties for...
. More expensive harnesses are not necessarily better as individual body types and activities are best suited to different types of harnesses, despite the price range.
Some of the first climbing harnesses were devised in the UK in the early 1960s by Alan Waterhouse, Paul Seddon and Tony Howard who went on to form the Troll climbing equipment manufacturers. A harness designed by British climber Don Whillans
Don Whillans was an English rock climber and mountaineer. Born and raised in a two-up two-down house in Salford, Lancashire, he climbed with both Joe Brown and Chris Bonington on many new routes, and was considered the technical equal of both. He was an apprentice plumber when he first started his...
was made by Troll for the 1970 Annapurna
Annapurna is a section of the Himalayas in north-central Nepal that includes Annapurna I, thirteen additional peaks over and 16 more over ....
South Face Expedition. It went into mass production shortly afterwards and soon became popular worldwide.
A sit harness
comprises a waist belt and two leg loops which are normally connected in the front of the hips either through a permanent webbing loop called a belay loop
. These are the most commonly used harnesses for recreational activities such as abseiling and rock-climbing, as they afford a wide range of movement while still maintaining a high level of safety. Ensuring the harness fits correctly is key to avoiding pain in the upper thigh area, caused by the leg loops being too tight and creating a tight feeling around the upper legs and groin area, while at the same time ensuring that a climber flipped over in a fall will not slip out.
A chest harness
is worn around the shoulders, usually with a sit harness so as to provide an additional attachment point farther up the body. This attachment point allows for better balance in some situations, such as when carrying a heavy pack (as the centre of mass is below the connection to the rope) and when the person in the harness may be unable to maintain an upright position (due to injury or other influences).
A full-body harness
is the combination of a sit harness and a chest harness which are permanently or semi-permanently connected to each other. This kind of harness normally offers a wide range of attachment points. It is most commonly used in industrial/rescue situations, and also commonly used by small children while climbing, instead of a sit string harness.
There are a number of companies that sell climbing harnesses for sport, rock, and ice climbing including (in alphabetical order):
Arc'teryx is an outdoor clothing and sporting goods company founded in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1989. The name and logo of Arc'teryx refer to the Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird...
- Black Diamond
- Blue Water
- Mad Rock
- Misty Mountain
Petzl is a world leading manufacturer of climbing gear, caving gear, work-at-height equipment, and headlamps based in Crolles , France. The company was created by the cave explorer Fernand Petzl in the mid-1970s...
- Singing Rock
- Wild Country
Wild Country is a major manufacturer of rock climbing equipment, and is most noted for introducing the Friend, a spring-loaded camming device...