Choosing the right climbing harness doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Knowing the different parts which make up the harness, and which is more suitable for the activity you’ll be doing, will help you to understand your needs and make the process much easier.

Harness Components

Waist belt


The harness’ waist belt is there to provide safety and comfort, and somewhere to lean your weight against on descents. A well-fitting waist belt will support you around your lower back, and should have adjustable buckles for a personalised fit.


Leg loops


These are adjustable on most harnesses for the best possible fit and comfort, as well as to accommodate different clothing layers. Most harnesses will also have padding on the leg loops for comfort when hanging or resting.




Buckles will be located on various points of the harness, to allow you to customise the fit according to your size, and your clothing. The more buckles a harness has, the more versatile it will be to different types of climbing, as it will accommodate different layer thicknesses.


Gear loops


Gear loops are used to attach your rack to; many harnesses have 4 loops, but some more advanced models will have more. Gear loops are usually made of tough plastic or webbing, but it’s important to remember that they are not load bearing.


Haul loop


The haul loop is a small loop on the back of the waist belt, used for trailing a second line. These loops are not load bearing but are a great feature to look out for if you plan to be taking on more difficult outdoor routes.


Belay loop


The belay loop is the strongest part of the harness, and as such will have been load tested. Some of our stores have suspension points at which you can try harnesses, so you will be able to find one which you find the most supportive.


Tie-in point


Tie-in points are two loops connected to the belay loop, which are used to connect your ropes. Your ropes should go through both the upper and lower tie-in points.


Rise/elastic straps


These are used in the space between the waist belt and leg loops, and are connected with thin webbing or elastic straps, which can be adjusted for the perfect fit.

Types of Harness

Traditional (trad) harness


Trad harnesses will have a minimum of four gear loops, and will have adjustable leg loops for the wearer’s comfort. Rear haul loops may be useful for trad climbing.

Sport harness


A sport harness will be lightweight first and foremost, so may only have two gear loops and their leg loops will be fixes to keep bulk to a minimum. 

All-round harness


All-round harnesses will be suitable for both indoor and outdoor pursuits, and both the waist and leg loops will be adjustable. All-round models usually have four gear loops.

Alpine harness


Alpine harnesses are made from simple webbing and aim to be very light and packable. They are designed to be worn over full mountaineering clothing and accommodate accessories, so have a clip buckle system on the leg loops and a drop seat buckle to be put over crampons, ski boots etc. Alpine harnesses can also be used for mountain and ski tours.

Harness Fitting Tips

When you go to shop for a harness, consider what you will be wearing when you use the harness and wear something which is of a similar thickness. Remember to allow for room in the one you choose if you’re likely to be wearing the harness over layers. When you put the harness on, tighten up any buckles until it feels secure but comfortable. The waist belt of the harness should fit snugly over your hips, and the belay loop should be positioned front and centre with no twists. If possible, hang in the harness when trying it to ensure the waist belt is supportive and doesn’t dig in; when hanging in the harness, you should be able to stay upright easily. 

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