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The Best Rock Climbing Harness for 2019

The reality of climbing is that above all else, safety comes first

Always. 

Sometimes it’s pesky and inconvenient, but the alternative is out of the question. So we step into that climbing harness, cinch it down, ignore the pinching, the sweat already pooling, and climb on. 

But help has arrived. Climbing harness materials, technology and construction have changed drastically in the recent years. We’re now inundated with new features and colors. Finally: the harness world has caught up to the wonderful world of climbing.

Before you dive into finding the best rock climbing harness, it is important to consider what kind of climbing you’ll be doing in your harness. 

The right choice for sending routes at the gym while attached to the auto-belay is much different than the harness that will be right for you all-day multi-pitch adventures. Equally important is getting the size correct. 

The best way to get this right is to head to your local outdoor equipment store and have an employee help you out. Pinching legs suck and a harness that is too loose is sacrificing safety.

The perfect situation looks like this: You know what type of climbing you’ll be doing in your harness, you have an expert help you find the right fit, and then you get to hang in it – either on the wall or at a station the outdoor store has set up. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be spending some quality time sitting in your harness after a fall. While contemplating what went wrong to lead to me swinging in a seated position, it’s a small success to sit in a comfortable harness. At lease then I know I got something exactly right!

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Rock Climbing Harness:

  • What type of climbing do I plan to do with this harness?
  • Do I prefer a men’s or women’s harness, or will unisex work?
  • Do I want leg loops I can adjust or will an elastic band be comfortable?
  • How many gear loops will I need?
  • How much padding do I need on the waistbelt and leg loops?

Below are some of the best rock climbing harness options currently on the market to make sure that you’re safe, comfortable, and in no way held back by your climbing harness on your favorite routes.

Best Harness for Multi-Skilled or Beginning Climbers: Black Diamond Momentum


Momentum Harness- Men’s



 
Momentum Harness – Women’s


Pros:

  • Great price point
  • Comfortable leg loops

Cons:

  • Might be too generic for specific climbs
  • Doesn’t pack down because of its padded structure

Features and Benefits:

The Black Diamond Momentum harness is the jack-of-all trades in the harness world. Perhaps this is why it’s Black Diamond’s best-selling harness. On top of that achievement, it’s exceptionally well-priced. The legs are comfortably padded, as is the waistbelt.

The climbing harness has four pressure molded gear loops which mean they’re not flimsy. They stick out just enough from the body of the harness that you can easily feel for them to clip gear on and off without frustration of searching for the loop. The leg loops feature both a clip and elastic to eliminate any pinching.

The leg loops and waistbelt are made of an abrasion-resistant nylon. So it’s strong and comfortable!

If you’re a beginner and not quite sure if you’re going to be doing a lot of climbing outside or sticking to shorter routes at the gym, this will be the perfect harness for all of that and everything in between. The Momentum Harness is truly all-encompassing in terms of climbing styles. It’s a great investment for both beginners or advanced climbers who are looking for a comfortable harness for their multi-talented climbing styles.

Black Diamond has been kind enough to make this harness in a men’s and women’s version so we can all get the best fit possible. It also comes with a mesh bag to tote it around in. The material is ultra-breathable so it’s not going to get wet enough with sweat to ring out on those climbs when the sun is trying to light the wall on fire. But storing your climbing harness in a breathable mesh bag is ideal for its longevity, even if it’s not wet from a long day climbing in the sun.

You know that feeling of freedom when you climb out of your harness? Like when you take your shoes off? That’s not gonna happen with the Momentum Harness because it’s too comfortable. You might contemplate sleeping in it or using it as a pillow or snuggle up with it. With the cushy foam and the texture of the fabric on the band, it’s basically a climber’s teddy bear.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a climber who doesn’t feel this harness is a bargain for the reliability, quality and comfort you’re buying.

Pros:

  • Simple preparation
  • Great taste
  • Good variety
  • 30 years shelf life

The Bottom Line:

Regardless of your climbing experience or specialty of climbing style, the Black Diamond Momentum Harness is going to treat how you’d like to be treated on Valentine’s Day. If it came with Belgian chocolates and a day-pass to the climbing gym of your dreams, it would actually be the perfect Valentine.

Most Eco-Friendly, All-Around Harness: Edelrid Jay and Jayne


 
Men’s Edlerid Jay Harness



 
Women’s Edelrid Jayne Harness


Pros:

  • Bluesign certified.
  • All-around climbing harness for sport, trad or ice

Cons:

  • Not the lightest option.

Features and Benefits:

The Edelrid Jay and Jayne are the workhorse rock climbing harnesses from Edelrid. Both are designed to be fully functional and comfortable to sport, trad or ice climb in. The leg loops feature an entirely different construction than the waistbelt.

 

The leg loops are made with a lightweight foam and a strap that effortlessly glides into place where you find it the most comfortable.

 

The hipbelt is made with a webbing that goes all the way around for maximum weight distribution and durability. Since the webbing is all one piece, the entire padded waistbelt can slide, so you can reposition it perfectly once it’s on and you’re tied in. Along the hipbelt are four stiff gear loops so it’s easy to clip gear in and take it out when needed. These loops don’t feature any plastic in accordance with the bluesign approval. Instead, the material is stiff enough on its own that it’s no problem finding the loops even without a plastic casing.

 

Edelrid was the first climbing company to manufacture all of their ropes to have bluesign certification, and now they’ve certified their best-selling harnesses, the Jayne and Jay Harness. Edelrid has a strong company stance that if we want to enjoy playing outdoors, we have to take care of the outdoors and the company’s contribution to this is bluesign certification. This means all of their manufacturing is done without using hazardous chemicals or dyes. The product is healthier to have on our skin as well as healthier for the environment since harmful chemicals and dyes aren’t being manufactured for them or leaching into any water supplies.

 

The Edelrid Jay and Jayne come in some great color options, too. My favorite color happens to be seafoam green. They call it “mint,” but that doesn’t make me love it any less. The 2019 version also comes in a sandstone color that is so close to the color of rocks at Joshua Tree National Park that you might be able to convince non-climbers you’re not wearing a harness but rather levitating on the wall while resting. Magic.

 

The Jay and Jayne have lightweight buckels because we don’t want to be adding any unnecessary weight to encourage gravity to keep us on the ground.

 

Most agree the Edelrid Jay and Jayne are both great options for a climbing harness that can go with you on any climbing adventure in any type of terrain. It’s suitable for beginner to advanced so it’s an especially good deal for beginners since it’s going to accommodate you as your climbing skills and interests progress.

The Bottom Line:

We know the Jay and Jayne Edelrid Harnesses are going to a reliable, durable and comfortable harness since it’s Edelrids best-selling harness. This is a great option for climbing sport, trad or ice all while being environmentally conscious.

Best Harness for Sport Climbing or Gym Climbing: Black Diamond Solution


 
Solution – Men’s



 
Solution – Women’s


Pros:

  • Lightweight.
  •  Simple but efficient design.

Cons:

  • Not for carrying tons of gear on trad climbs 
  • Not great for cold weather climbs with multiple layers of clothing.

Features and Benefits:

Slightly lighter than the Black Diamond Momentum Harness, the Black Diamond Solution Harness is a great option for sport climbs no matter how long the day will be. Three bands of are included on the waistbelt so weight is distributed over the entire belt. No pressure points here, which is so necessary when hanging at transitions or falling often, like I do.

 

Just like the Momentum Harness, the Solution has four moulded gear loops. They sit off your hips just perfectly so finding the gear loops never takes any thought. A simple loop on the back is built in for your chalk bag. I love that this loop isn’t over designed to add weight – it’s simply a loop to hold a bag full of chalk that will soon be equally on all of your clothing, in your hair and on your face as much as it’s on your hands and the rock.

 

My favorite part of this harness is the leg loops. They don’t have any clips – nothing to adjust. It features a comfortable but not clunky lightweight foam, so there is comfort when hanging and some shock absorption features when necessary. Instead, the leg loops have an elastic band running along the front of the thigh that hugs as much as necessary. To me, this is the most comfortable and easy way for a harness to function. I feel comfortable in it all day and barely notice it’s on. On a few occasions I’ve even experienced that momentary panic of wondering if it’s still on correctly or if all of my gear is on its way to the ground. Thankfully it’s never been more than an error in my trained brain expecting more weight and tension on my waist and legs.

 

Again Black Diamond has graced us with a well-constructed harness. It’s easy to get in and out of, comfortable and lightweight and all for a reasonable amount.

 

Alex Honnold, most famous for not using a harness when he free soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, climbs in the Black Diamond Solution Harness. He has partnered with Black Diamond to come out with a limited edition Alex Honnold Solution Harness. It comes in his favorite color of lime green called “verde” and one leg loop features his signature. You can harness some of his strength and focus while physically wearing his harness.

The Bottom Line:

The Black Diamond Solution is the less bulky version of the Black Diamond Momentum. It’s slightly more sophisticated in design and lighter weight. It’s gonna get the job done in either the gym or longer sport climbs outdoors.

Safest, Most Durable Climbing Harness: Metolius Safe Tech


best womens rock climbing harness


Pros:

  • Non-slip, lightweight buckles.
  • Made in the USA.

Cons:

  • Slightly harder to get into.
  • Unisex.

Features and Benefits:

The buckle on the Metolius Safe Tech is it’s unique point. The buckle is constructed of two plates that fit together similar to how spoons sit in the silverware drawer. When the plates are touching, the buckle is locked and the webbing can’t move. In order to adjust the webbing, you have to pull apart the spoons, I mean, the two plates of the buckle. These buckles are sturdy aluminum which has the added benefit of being lightweight.

 

The Metolius Safe Tech Harness is unisex but the the leg loops, waistbelt and rise (distance between the waist and leg loops) are all adjustable enough to keep anyone comfortable and safe in this harness. All four gear loops are reinforced for durability and strength. The front two stick straight out from the belt of the harness, giving it an almost tutu-looking effect. This may or may not be desirable. The back two lay flat so those don’t add to to the tutu but rather stay out of the way, especially if you have a pack on.

 

The reality of climbing is that is can be incredibly high-risk if the equipment is not used properly. This harness has done everything possible to ensure it’s fool-proof and on correctly. The only other thing Metolius could have done is pack a personal safety specialist into each harness to tie us in properly every time.

 

The Safe Tech Harness also uniquely includes two belay loops which really cuts down on clutter and organization issues especially on multi-pitch climbs or while hanging out at rappel stations.

The Bottom Line:

If “safety” is your middle name or you just wish it was, this is a great climbing harness for you. Metolius has spared no thought when it came to designing this harness which is both durable, rugged and takes extra precautions to ensure safety. It’s not cumbersome for having so many details involved in the construction.

Best Harness for Ice Climbing: Camp USA Air CR Evo


best harness for ice climbing


Pros:

  •  Lightweight.

Cons:

  • Unisex.
  •  Smaller gear loops.

Features and Benefits:

Four gear loops, non-twisting belay loops, perforated foam with a mesh overlay all meet you with the Camp USA Air CR Evo rock climbing harness. The lightest harness to come out of the Camp company actually does feel like air. The breathability of the mesh and foam is great in the sticky summer months, or the sticky spring and fall months if we’re lucky.

 

The buckles on both legs and on the waistbelt auto lock which is perfect if you tend to be a bit forgetful like I am from time to time. You still get points for remembering to pack your harness and remembering how to tie-in.

 

Sometimes lightweight gear can feel like it’s flimsy and not going to hold up well. The Camp USA Air CR Evo rock climbing harness is not one of those cases. This thing is durable and sturdy without adding any weight or fancy doodads it doesn’t absolutely need.

 

This climbing harness is going to serve you right if you’re heading out in the winter for ice climbing or alpine mountaineering. In addition to the gear loops the Camp USA Air CR Evo harness has three hub racking binders for ice screws. All the way in the back is a loop for a chalk bag, although you can safely forget that at home for ice climbing. Instead you could hook a nice thermos of hot chocolate back there. Marshmallows optional.

The Bottom Line:

Camp is synonymous with lightweight, reliable climbing gear and this harness is the epitome of why they’re known for that. The Air CR Evo Harness is a great option if you’re climbing often in the winter on ice or alpine climbing but transition into trad or sport climbing during the summer months. This harness will not have to leave your “go-to” climbing bin of equipment regardless of the season.

Best Harness for Carrying Lots of Gear: Petzl Calidris




Pros:

  • Huge gear loops.
  • Well padded and comfortable.
  • A great choice for larger individuals.

Cons:

  • Unisex.
  • Some might find the rear gear loops difficult to reach.

Features and Benefits:

You know how we all play that game of “can I carry all of the groceries into the house in one trip?” If we were all wearing the Petzl Calidris climbing harness, the answer would always be “Yes.”

 

This climbing harness specializes in carrying all of the gear you’d ever want to carry. The front two gear loops have a rigid stability to them without being covered in plastic. This allows for me to easily grab my gear or place gear back on it without struggling to locate it. The back two gear loops don’t have this stability, which I find to be a positive. This means if you’re wearing a backpack they’re not going to get in the way of that.

 

Petzl designed the gear loops to be larger than in past models which is extra convenient for ice climbing. Searching for gear with gloves on is a sport we’re all forced to take part in while ice climbing. The gear loops on the Petzl Calidris make this task a whole lot easier. If speed gear arranging were to be in the climbing portion of the Olympics, this would be a great harness to wear for that competition.

 

Although the Petzl Calidris Harness is unisex, the waist and leg adjustments make it easy to get the right fit on any physique.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a climbing harness that will support and catch you in any style from trad, sport to ice and alpine and you want adjustable leg loops, the Petzl Calidris won’t let you down. It’s lightweight so it’s not going to add much when hiking in or out. It’s able to carry any and all gear you’ll need. It can even carry your groceries inside if you ask it to.

Best Harness for Sport or Trad Climbing with Adjustable Leg Loops: Mammut Ophir and Ophira 3 Slide


 
Mammut Ophir 3 Slide – Men’s)



 
Mammut Ophira 3 Slide – Women’s


Pros:

  •  Packs down small.
  • Leg loops adjust to different sizes to accommodate layers of clothing

Cons:

  •  Not the best for tall climbers.

Features and Benefits:

The Mammut Ophir 3 Slide climbing harness and women’s version of the Ophira 3 Slide are Mammut’s go-to climbing harness with adjustable leg loops. Both styles have four gear haul loops. The front two are well structured, hanging away from the body so they’re as easy as possible to locate. The rear two lay flat so they’re not going to get in the way of any other gear hanging in the back or a backpack.

 

Mammut designed the Ophir and Ophira with a double webbing across the belt. This means when you’re sitting in the harness, the weight is distributed evenly across the width of the belt. WIth the webbing inside of the belt, the top stays free to flex a bit with a fall. This makes it oh so much more comfortable than some harnesses with a stiff webbing at the top of the belt. Those tend to cut in or pinch, but that certainly isn’t the case with this gem of a harness.

 

The belt also uses a perforated foam and mesh materials so it’s not going to get soggy on sweaty days.

 

The tie-in and the belay loop both both have a red core. At a certain point inside of  the webbing, Mammut added a red strand. As your harness gets pulled on from pressure both on the top and bottom it may start to wear out, but the red core will become exposed when it’s no longer safe to use. Time to buy a replacement then.

 

Mammut is part of the Fair Wear Foundation, an organization that works with companies to ensure fair work practices are enforced for employees at all levels of production. The Ophir and Ophira Harnesses are made according to these standards that ensure the people crafting the harness are treated with respect in a humane working conditions and paid on a strict schedule.

 

Mammut says the Ophir 3 Slide and its female counterpart the Ophira 3 Slide are their best selling harnesses. Strength in numbers here means we can all climb happy, safely and comfortably in this climbing harness.

The Bottom Line:

Sport or trad climbers who are searching for a reliable lightweight option to cover falls on climbs will be great mom or dad to the The Mammut Ophir or Ophira 3 Slide. It’s lightweight while maintaining strength and durability.

Most Versatile Harness that is made in the USA: Misty Mountain Cadillac


misty mountain cadillac climbing harness
 
Misty Mountain Cadillac – Men’s



 
Misty Mountain Cadillac – Women’s


Pros:

  •  Large variety of sizes.
  •  Six gear loops for long days on the crag.

Cons:

  • Heavy.

Features and Benefits:

Dual-adjusting waistband means this climbing harness will always feel right once you put it on. It features six highly structured gear loops which means plenty of space and organization options for all of your gear on long or short climbs. Sport, trad or ice – this harness will do it all.

 

Misty Mountain makes all of their gear to order in North Carolina. The Cadillac Harness is available in sizes ranging from XS of 24-26” in the waist to XXXL which fits 41-45” waist size. The waistbelt is wide with two layers to distribute the weight evenly throughout the belt. This design also eliminates any pinch points when it’s catching you on a fall. It’s really a winner for all-day comfort.

 

I’ve seen countless climbing guides in Moab, Utah wear this harness. It can hold an impressive amount of gear which is necessary for a guide. I’ve also seen them using the harness as means to swing off huge cliffs. A comfortable, durable, and reliable swing come free with the purchase of this Misty Mountain Cadillac Harness. If it’s good enough for technical climbing guides in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, it’s sure to be a versatile winner.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re looking to carry gear in a reliable and sturdy way while maintaining comfort if you take a fall, the Misty Mountain Cadillac is a great harness choice. It’s made entirely in the USA and made to order which means you’re going to be getting a high level of quality of craftsmanship in this harness.

Best Harness for Lightweight, High-Quality Performance: Petzl Sitta


best lightweight climbing harness


Pros:

  • Packs down ultra small.
  • Incredibly lightweight.

Cons:

  • High price.
  • Unisex.

Features and Benefits:

I’d like to write a description and review of the Petzl Sitta Climbing Harness but I can’t. It has vanished right before my eyes. The harness was sitting in front of me a second ago and then the slightest breeze blew by and carried it away. Yes, it’s that lightweight. The exact weight depends on the size. The smallest size available, small, weighs 240 grams. The largest size, large, comes in at 300 grams. Yes, the Petzl Sitta is insanely lightweight. If you’re worried about carrying too much weight or bulk, look no further the the Petzl Sitta as your solution.

 

The lightweight harness is thanks to the Wireframe construction Petzl uses instead of a foam core. The Wireframe technology includes Spectra strands running around the waistbelt which are low-stretch while being ultra strong. The result is a lightweight climbing harness that doesn’t need any foam padding or absorbtion assistance. The Spectra strands ensure weight is equally distributed across the entire waistbelt so no one spot takes all the pressure.

 

Like most other climbing harnesses, the Petzl Sitta has four gear loops. Except the front two are unique. Those feature a sliding separator so any gear you clip on can be better organized. It’s like a filing cabinet on your waist. If you don’t like this extra feature because you’re super organized without it, it can be removed.

 

The Petzl Sitta is truly a case in point that more padding doesn’t mean it’s more comfortable or functional. Petzl has shown us all that bulkier does not equal comfort or functionality. The Sitta is as minimal as it gets while retaining the same level of comfort and durability we expect from a front-runner company like Petzl.

The Bottom Line:

The Petzl Sitta is as good as it gets in terms of weight to functionality. Everything about this climbing harness is perfect while feeling like carrying an extra handful of almonds along for the day’s adventure. If money is no issue, the Petzl Sitta is sure to have you looking forward to that all-day climb with all-day comfort.

Best Lightweight, Most Versatile Harness for Alpine Climbing: Arc’Teryx FL-355 and Arc’Teryx FL-365


 
FL-355 – Women’s



 
FL-365 – Men’s


Pros:

  • Lightweight and packs down.
  • Breathable material.

Cons:

  • Fits skinnier legs best.
  • On the pricier side.

Features and Benefits:

The Arc’teryx FL-355 women’s harness and the men’s version FL-365 are part of the fast and light collection, hence the “FL.” The women’s version weights 355 grams and the men’s weights 365 grams, about the same weight as a dozen roses. To be as fast and light as possible this harness doesn’t have any fasteners or clips on the legs, but a light foam cushioning around the back and an elastic strap around the front of the thigh to hug as tight as needed but doesn’t constrict.

 

Arc’teryx used its “Warp Strength Technology” to evenly distribute weight throughout the belt of the harness, making hanging to rest comfortable as well as maintaining as much comfort as possible in a fall.

 

The FL-355 and FL-365 have a safety feature all Arc’teryx harnesses have  – an orange wear indicator. This indicator in the webbing will show up brightly when the harness needs to be replaced.

 

The women’s FL-355 comes in a seriously slick dark blue color Arc’teryx call “Poseidon.” I think we can all agree that climbing in a harness with a color named after the God of the sea, soil, horses, earthquakes and storms must have some extra “send it” powder sprinkled it. I, for one, could use all the extra “send it” powder I can find, even if it costs a little more than its competitors.

 

The men’s FL-365 is available in “red beach/flare” which is equally badass as Poseidon.

 

This Arc’teryx harness simply looks incredible. It looks like Marie Kondo designed it. It’s sleek and minimalist, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in comfort and functionality. Rather, it’s simply a well designed rock climbing harness. It’s low profile makes it look simple and less bulky. This is also a main component of why it’s so comfortable. It doesn’t feel like you’re wearing something chunky around your waist.

 

The FL-355 and FL-365 climbing harness excels in ice and alpine climbing with four ice-clipper slots and four gear loops. The elastic leg loops means that it will fit whatever layers you’re wearing for the day whether it’s a pair of shorts in the Utah summer sun or thick gear for cold weather ice climbing in Colorado. The leg loops will be ready to accommodate it.

The Bottom Line:

The Arc’teryx FL-355 and FL-365 are lightweight all-encompassing rock climbing harnesses. The both maintain Arc’teryx’s rigid reputation of quality and durability. A lightweight all-around harness that will hold you up and keep you safe for years is what you’ll be getting with either of these Arc’teryx harnesses.

To sum it all up:

Choosing the right rock climbing harness to cater your needs is a vital part of your climbing success. A harness that is comfortable, supportive in all the right spots, works with your gear for optimal organization all while, most importantly, providing safety will be an asset to all of your routes. The best rock climbing harness for you might take some shopping around to get right, but it will feel like heaven once you’ve found your perfect match.

 

We hope this guide has given you some direction in your rock climbing harness quest. Trying on and hanging on a harness is the best way to figure out if it’s the right one for you. If you can’t head into a store to try them on, make sure you’re buying from a company that has a friendly return or exchange policy. Now get out there and send it!