Climbing on ropes, you’re bound to spend a lot of time in your harness. So, it’s important to get it right and find an option well-suited for your needs. Use this guide to better understand the various types of climbing harnesses and to assist you in your buying process. Recommendations are unbiased and the buying links are affiliate links—purchases made from them support our free content.
This guide was last updated on July 1, 2016
Deal Alert: View this week’s best on-sale climbing gear
Finding the right harness for your needs
All roped climbing and rappelling requires a harness, which includes gear loops, a belay loop, leg loops, and hard points for tying into. Depending on whether you’re an all-around climber, or focused specifically on the disciplines of sport or trad climbing, a different harness will suit your needs best.
Lightweight harnesses often have less cushion and are better suited for 1 or 2-pitch sport climbs, whereas heavier harnesses generally have more padding that makes them the ideal choice for all-day epics where you may be on the wall for hours on end. Below we’ve listed our top picks for all-around, lightweight/performance, and comfort harnesses.
Use the chart to select the best harness for your needs:
Top men’s climbing harnesses
Black Diamond Momentum (best for all-around)
Choosing a harness can be hard, especially if you’re a beginner or all-around climber. If that sounds like you, the Momentum Harness by Black Diamond won’t disappoint. This comfortable and versatile harness provides you with four gear loops for ample space to carry your draws or cams, a haul loop, as well as a comfortable waistbelt that’ll keep you feeling limber even after a whole day of climbing. The trakFIT adjustable leg loops make tightening and loosening your harness easy. And for an added bonus in safety, the Momentum pre-threaded Speed Adjust waistbelt buckle helps to provide quicker adjustments and offers added safety over waistbelts that are not pre-threaded.
Petzl Hirundos (best for lightweight/performance)
If you’re on the hunt for a performance harness that’ll keep you protected without weighing you down, then we highly recommend the Petzl Hirundos. With its skinny Fuseframe Technology design, this slim, lightweight harness serves sport and alpine climbers best. Its thermo-formed foam optimizes weight distribution to avoid formation of pressure points, and its DoubleBack HD buckle system makes it easy and quick to adjust. The Hirundos also features ultra flexible leg loops, four equipment loops, and two tool holder slots to give you plenty of space to hang your ‘draws and gear. Delivering an extensive range of motion, ultralight design, quick-drying material, and ease in waistbelt adjustment, the Hirundos serves as the ideal performance harness.
Black Diamond Chaos (best for all-day comfort)
Made specifically for long, multi-pitch days when you might be hanging in your harness for more than you might bargain for, the Black Diamond Chaos Harness delivers substantial comfort while remaining lightweight. Its Kinetic Core Construction—which incorporates durable nylon shell, 3D AirMesh lining, Vectran strands, and light yet supportive EVA foam—provides a breathable harness that evenly distributes your bodyweight and offers lumbar support.
The Chaos also features elasticized leg loops rather than buckles to comfortably secure your legs, as well as a Forged Speed Adjust buckle crafted to avoid abrasion from wear and tear against webbing. And, paramount for long day or big wall adventures, the Chaos offers four pressure-molded gear loops and a haul loop rated to 12kN to ensure you can drag all of the gear you could need to finish your climb.
Top women’s climbing harnesses
Black Diamond Primrose (best for all-around)
The sister harness to Black Diamond’s Momentum Harness, the Primrose is ideal for newer and all-around climbers. Comfortable and versatile, the primrose provides you with four gear loops for ample space to carry your draws or cams, a haul loop, as well as a comfortable waistbelt that’ll keep you feeling limber even after a whole day of climbing. The trakFIT adjustable leg loops make tightening and loosening your harness easy. And for an added bonus in safety, the Momentum pre-threaded Speed Adjust waistbelt buckle helps to provide quicker adjustments and offers added safety over waistbelts that are not pre-threaded.
Black Diamond Siren (best for lightweight/performance)
Whether you’re seeking a sport climbing-specific harness or one made for lightweight adventures, the Siren harness by Black Diamond will satisfy your needs. This harness places its primary focus on comfort and breathability, which its Dual Core XP Construction successfully delivers. This women’s-specific harness provides a Dual Core waistbelt, designed to distribute your weight evenly, along with supportive single-strand high-tensile nylon leg loops to keep you comfortable in moments when you find yourself hanging.
The Siren’s pre-threaded Forged Speed Adjust waistbelt and trakFIT adjustable leg loops make loosening and tightening all aspects of the Siren simple and fast. Designed with BD’s Mondo gear loops, you have ample space to rack all of the ‘draws you could need to tackle your latest project. And don’t worry, thanks to the inclusion of Bombshell abrasion patches, this harness will last you for seasons to come.
Black Diamond Ethos (best for all-day comfort)
When you plan to spend a full day (or more) in your harness, comfort and durability serve as the most sought after features. That’s why Black Diamond’s Ethos —the women’s version of the Chaos— stands as our choice for trad endeavors, big or small. This harness provides a lush layer of padding and abrasion resistant material that make it superb for all of the body jamming and hanging belays you might encounter in your days.
Like its brother harness, the Ethos features BD’s Kinetic Core Construction, but with a women’s specific bullhorn shape, designed to evenly distribute weight without being overly invasive on your waist or legs. It includes 4 pressure-molded gear loops to solidly rack the needed protection, along with a 12kN haul loop to carry up your hefty tag line. The pre-threaded Forged Speed Adjust waistbelt buckle and adjustable elastic rear risers of the Ethos make it simple to adjust to optimize your highest level of comfort.
Deal Alert: View this week’s best on-sale climbing gear