climbing harness or harness appeared gradually during the 20th century. Before its appearance, climbers used to tie themselves directly to the rope. The harness revolutionized the safety of climbers.

The composition of a climbing harness

The harness is composed of 2 thigh straps and a belt connected by a trigger guard. It is the presence of the trigger guard that allows the movement of the thighs in relation to the belt and makes the movement very easy. It also facilitates the sitting position because the distribution of support is better shared between the thighs and the belt. The architecture is different on children's harnesses.

The straps:

One of the differences between harnesses is the construction technology of the straps that make them up. The most common technologies are :

  • The Single lined webbing: Classic nylon webbing with a rather heavy foam lining.

  • Lined webbing: Webbing connected by a net and very light.

  • Wide girth : Simple, wide and ergonomic strap. This is the most compact and comfortable technology.

  • The tripled strap This is the deployment of a strap in 3 to limit friction.

  • Deployment of several threads: Allows for a balance of support points while limiting bulk and weight.

The tightening system:

Today, only harnesses with automatic buckles are available. You just have to tighten the harness and the strap is locked automatically. There are harnesses with two buckles that are more versatile but heavier. All harnesses have a waist tightening system. But there are harnesses with adjustable or non-adjustable thighs.

  • Harnesses with adjustable thighs: They are more versatile, you can lend it or put it on easily with crampons but they are heavier, and the rope can get stuck in the buckle and bother you during the climb.

  • Non-adjustable thigh harnesses: The thigh is tightened by an elastic band. They are less versatile but lighter and easier to use.

The accessories of a harness

A harness is always equipped with the following accessories:

  • Gear loops

  • Pitchfork loops for mountaineering

  • A back loop to hang a chalk bag or your hauling rope.


In general, the lifespan of a climbing harness is up to 10 years from the date of manufacture. Even if you don't use your harness, after 10 years it will need to be replaced! Sometimes there can be several years between the date of manufacture and the date of purchase, so be careful about the date on the harness.

From the first use, most brands indicate that the maximum duration of use is 5 years. But always without exceeding the 10-year life span.


Go for rigid gear holders, they are easier to clip on.

Nathanaël - Product expert for the climbing world

About Nathanaël: "Sport is a big part of my life. I practice climbing, mountaineering, paragliding, trail and ski touring. A full day without enjoying the nature around me? Don't even get me started, it's inconceivable."

A harness for different practices:

There are different disciplines in climbing. The main characteristics of the harness will therefore change depending on the practice.

Indoor climbing: If you practice indoor climbing, the suspension time in the harness will be less important than for other disciplines. Also, it is not necessary to have specific equipment so the comfort of the harness will be less, as well as the number of equipment holders.

Long route climbing: Here, the harness must have wider thighs and a wider pelvis, as the suspension time can be long in belays. The gear loops must also be sufficient in number in order to hang the basic climbing tools.

Climbing on a cliff: For climbing on a cliff, the suspension time will be longer than in a climbing gym but less than on a long route. The harness must therefore be comfortable and have room on the gear loops.

Ice climbing and mountaineering: Wearing several layers of clothing, the climber must be equipped with a practical and adjustable harness for ice climbing. Comfort is also important!

Caving: Finally, if you are a caving enthusiast, the harness must be well adjusted to have a better performance.