If you’re just starting out on your rock climbing journey, whether indoor at the gym or in the great outdoors, you’ve probably just been renting or borrowing gear.

This makes absolute sense for a beginner, and it is actually a good way of getting a feel for what you like and do not like.

Once you decide you are serious about rock climbing, though, you will need to buy your own gear.

One of the first things you’ll definitely want to invest in is a good climbing harness. It is the most

In this post, we’ll tell you how to find the ideal climbing harness for your needs, and we’ll review some of the best climbing harnesses for beginners to help you narrow down your search.

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The Best Beginner Climbing Harness Options

If you want the best climbing harness on the market, be sure to check out the ones on this list!

Edelrid Jay / Jayne

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The Edelrid Jay is a great beginner climbing harness option for those who love a cozy feel and accommodating features.

It has adjustable leg loops, and the  waist  belt padding is also extremely breathable: extending over the edge of the belt for extra comfort.

The Edelrid Jay has a women’s version – the Edelrid Jayne – designed with a women’s fit  and includes an extra small (XS) option.

Both the Jay and Jayne climbing harnesses  have a unique detail: they actually allow you to move the 3D mesh padding.

This can be especially useful  depending on the type of climbing you do, such as big wall or multi pitch climbing, as you may need to periodically re-center padding so that the belay loop and gear loops are correctly aligned.

All of these features not only make the Edelrid Jay one of the best beginner climbing harnesses, but perhaps even the best all-around climbing harness out there.

Wild Country Mission Harness

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Another one of the best beginner climbing harnesses out there, the Wild Country Mission is a workhorse:

It sports five gear loops, a haul loop and ice clipper slots. This means it is not just a great beginner harness, but that it can grow with you as you progress into  new styles like trad climbing, multi-pitch and even alpinism!

It is also durable and flexible. Although the buckles for the adjustable leg loops are not the easiest to use, you will acclimate to them quickly.

Mammut Alnasca Harness

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If you are looking for something light and simple for the gym or single-pitch sport routes, the Mammut Alnasca is an excellent option.

Unlike other lightweight climbing harnesses, the Alnasca doesn’t lack comfort. Thanks to its clever design and quality materials, it will never feel like it cuts into your legs or waist.

The Alnasca has fixed leg loops, four gear loops, and a loop for your chalk bag. No bells and whistles like a haul loop or ice clipper slots.

For that reason, the Alnasca looses some points for versatility. However, its simple, minimalist design is what makes it one of the best climbing harnesses for gym climbing or sport climbing.

There is only one major con… the price! But if that doesn’t scare you off, this harness is great for beginners.

Petzl Corax Harness

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The Petzl Corax makes the top of many lists for best beginner climbing harness choices (it was my first harness too!). 

Its two-buckle system waist belt, combined with adjustable leg loops, are awesome features that lend to a perfect fit.

Not to mention, the padding on the waist belt and leg loops is also super comfortable and durable.

With four gear loops and a rear accessory/haul loop for a chalk bag or trail line, the Petzl Corax is a great choice for sport climbing.

Although it isn’t the lightest climbing harness out there, the minor weight addition makes it worth the comfort and support. Some argue its the most comfortable harness on the market!

Mammut Togir 3 Slide Harness

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With a slew of technical design features, the Mammut Togir 3 takes the cake. The Togir 3 Women’s version is equally as fantastic.

  • The Slide-Bloc buckles on the waist belt and leg loops  allow for ultra easy adjustments.
  • The tie-in loops are reinforced with molded plastic, which make them extra durable while also helping to keep the rope centered.
  • Mammut’s Split Webbing technology better distributes pressure applied to the harness

The Togir 3 Slide is an especially good option if you plan on getting into alpine climbing, as it has plenty of space on its gear loops for ice-screw carabiners.

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

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The Black Diamond Momentum is the quintessential budget beginner harness, perfect for top roping and leading at the gym or crag.

Black Diamond even provides a purchasing option to bundle the Momentum harness with a chalk bag and belay device. Its an excellent package at a great value for beginners taking the dive into rock climbing!

Although the Momentum is not the most comfortable harness to hang out in, it works fine for single-pitch indoor or outdoor rock climbing. Especially as the adjustable leg loops and pre-threaded Speed Adjust buckles make for fast on-and-off in between sessions.

The Momentum’s four gear loops might not be enough for a full rack of trad gear, but they are definitely fine for sport routes.

Ultimately, its great price and simple practicality make the Black Diamond Momentum a common sight in many climbing gyms.

Black Diamond Solution

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If you plan to spend a lot of time trying harder routes at the gym (and thus hanging in your harness a ton), the Black Diamond Solution is a more comfortable – albeit slightly more expensive – option than the Momentum.

Like the Momentum, the Black Diamond Solution has a low versatility score. Its small gear loops and minimal haul loop make it less-than-ideal for anything other than gym climbing or single-pitch sport climbing.

The Solution also has fixed leg loops, which can be difficult if you prefer a certain fit or are unsure how to size a climbing harness.

However, Black Diamond’s Fusion Comfort Construction distributes weight very well throughout the harness, making the Solution arguably the most comfortable climbing harness ever. The Fusion Comfort design is what particularly sets the Solution apart from the Momentum.

Petzl Adjama

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The Petzl Adjama is another one of the most comfortable harnesses on the market and it has five big gear loops!

The gear loops are reinforced for easy clipping, and extra-wide so that you can take with you all the gear you need on your first trad and multi-pitch climbs.

Its padded waist belt and adjustable leg loops will help you feel super comfortable during hanging belays.

The Adjama is heavier than most of the harnesses on this list, making it a not-so-good option for sport climbing at the gym. But, for a beginner taking a quick dive into outdoor trad and multi-pitch rock climbing, the Adjama is a solid choice.

Arc’teryx AR 395a

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The Arc’Teryx AR 395a is easily one of the most versatile harnesses ever made. If you get this harness, you will not need another one, no matter the style of climbing you will be doing.

You will find all the features you need for sport climbing, trad, and even ice-climbing and alpine use on the 395a. It even has wear markers on the belay loop and tie-in points!

The only thing you might reasonably fret about is the price… the AR 395a  is not cheap.

But, the quality may be worth the cost…

Its waist belt and leg loops are made with Arc’teryx’s special Warp Strength technology.

Such Warp Strength technology is what lends Arc’teryx its cult following despite their high prices: it helps evenly disperse weight across the width of the waist and leg loops and provides for an especially low profile fit.

The low profile nature of the AR 395a also makes it super packable.

However, the AR 395a does not rank as high among other harnesses available for padding, support, and comfort. If these traits matter more to you, consider going with the Solution or the Corax.

Misty Mountain Cadillac

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Misty Mountain is a lesser known, yet top-tier climbing gear manufacturer, and the Cadillac is its classic harness.

It is also the best climbing harness for beginners getting into trad or taking their first foray into the world of big wall routes.

After all, it was specifically designed to be a trad climbing harness; that’s why it includes 6 giant gear loops and an extremely high-comfort fit.

The Cadillac’s 4.3 inch wide, double-buckle waist belt and 2.9 inch wide adjustable leg loops are not messing around.

You can wear the Cadillac for a whole day of climbing without regrets, and  have space for all the trad climbing gear you need: for gear-intensive Indian Creek single-pitch to long multi-pitches in Squamish.

Although the Cadillac has a heavier base weight than other harnesses on this list, its extensive features and closed cell crosslinked polyethylene foam padded waist make the higher price tag worth it.

Petzl Sama

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The Petzl Sama is a top pick due to its great value, comfort, and versatility.

It is also the best beginner climbing harness for folks ready to take the sport seriously right away.

This is because it is comfortable for long belays and lots of hanging out on projects.

The waist belt’s flexible material and slim front, combined with fixed elastic leg loops, also provide for great mobility. With four sizable gear loops and accessible haul loop, the Sama can handle nearly any style of climbing.

Best of all – its price is unbeatable.

Needless to say, the Petzl Sama will not disappoint.

What to Look For In A Beginners Climbing Harness

As a beginner, you probably don’t need lots of special features. All you want to look for is something durable, comfortable and safe.

The Fit

To find the best beginner climbing harness for you, you must check that it adjusts well to your body type.

That is why it is super important to try a harness on before buying it. Especially if it has fixed leg loops or lower adjustability.

If you’re eager to score a deal online, just ask friends if you can try theirs’ on (or try it on in a shop) and then go home and buy from whichever website has the best price.

If you truly have no option to try the harness on before buying it, check the specifications on the manufacturer’s website. Then, get some measuring tape and check  your body measurements to figure out which harness size they match up with.

It might sound tedious, but, trust me- proper fit improves the safety of your climbing gear. Poor fit  could result in you not wearing your harness properly, which could compromise the integrity of the harness. Or just make for some miserable sessions of climbing!

Above all, take heed of this advice: comfort is key.

What Type of Climbing You Plan to Do Most

When you select your harness, you will also need to consider the type of climbing you are going to be doing. Not every harness is made for all types of climbing.

Sport/gym climbing harnesses are often light and more minimalistic, featuring fewer or smaller gear loops.

On the other hand. trad harnesses have more, bigger sized gear loops, and often come with extra padding for better comfort during long trad routes.

If you plan to do routes in particularly cold weather, be sure to get a harness with adjustable (versus fixed) leg loops. That way, you can wear multiple layers of clothing underneath your harness without it becoming too tight.

Once you have a general idea of the type of climbing you will be doing, look for a harness with all the features you’ll need in mind.

The Difference Between Beginner Climbing Harnesses and Other Climbing Harnesses

Technically, a beginner climbing harness can be used by climbers of any level, and it does not have to be discarded as you progress.

The same harness can take you from 5.7 indoors to 5.11 at the crag with out any problems.

Usually, some harnesses are recommended for beginners just because of their extra comfort and durability, and for some special features that will make it easier and faster to put it on, take it off, and adjust it to your body (for example: easy-to-use buckles, minimal gear loops, adjustable leg loops).

If you choose your harness well, however, it could accompany you on your climbing adventures for a long time!

And this is actually why it is so important to choose well… So let’s get into some details before we tell you about our top picks for beginner climbing harnesses.

Women’s Climbing Harness

You might notice that some harnesses have two versions: men’s and women’s.

This is because women’s climbing harnesses have been specifically designed with feminine body shapes in mind.  

Of course, they still comply with all safety and comfort standards – just with a slightly different shape and fit.

Compared to a standard climbing harness, one designed for women usually has a longer rise on the waist and a slightly different waist-to-leg loops size ratio. 

The colors of women’s harnesses tend to be different as well, with lighter and more vibrant tones.

However, make sure you do not choose a harness just for the style… We know that’s important, but make sure it’s not the only criteria you use for your choice!

Things to Consider When Buying a Climbing Harness

Durability

As you are going to be wearing your harness while climbing, belaying, and even just hanging out at the gym or crag, you really want it to be durable and resistant to the abrasive material of walls and rocks it will be rubbing against.

Aside from the main materials used for the harness, reinforced gear loops and tie-in points are also a good feature for extra durability.

If you plan on doing long days at the crag or multi-pitch trad routes, you will need to look for something more durable than if you are just planning to use it at the gym on Sundays.

Comfort

Although climbing may seem like an inherently uncomfortable activity, a comfortable harness can make a huge difference…Particularly for long belays, and hanging at the crux on your projects.

The best harness should also allow you the mobility necessary to move on the wall without impediments. Even for wide stemming, when you’re nearly in a full split!

More comfort tends to mean thicker padding on the waist belt and leg loops, and thus a heavier harness.

However, a little extra weight is often worth the benefits when it comes to harnesses.

To ensure the harness you purchase is of the utmost comfort levels,  check that the leg loops fit your thighs nicely. Especially if they are fixed leg loops.

You don’t want them to prevent you from using high feet or heel hooks because they are too tight!

Whether I am catching my partner’s falls on their project burns or rappelling 10 pitches at the end of a long multi-pitch day, I am thankful for how comfortable my harness is –  and you will be too!

Adjustable Waist Belt and Leg Loops

The comfort of a harness greatly depends on its fit, and not all harnesses are made equal! Meaning… some harnesses are designed for women, some for smaller people, and some for larger ones; some are best for those with a thin waist, and others are good if you have muscular legs.

For a good fit, you want the waist belt to rest snugly on your natural waistline, and the leg loops to be a little bit more loose (just enough to make you feel safe, while still allowing you to move freely).

It is easier to find such a fit when the harness is super adjustable, with buckles on both the waist and leg loops.

Generally, the better the adjustability, the better the harness.

Make sure you size your harness so that the adjustment straps are not at their absolute maximum or minimum. You want to have the ability to increase or decrease the harness fit easily for getting it on and off, as well as for accommodating winter clothing, and even personal weight changes.

Gear Loops

Gear Loops are another feature to look out for in your first climbing harness.

If you plan on climbing indoors or just single-pitch sport routes, you don’t need more than four gear loops.

If, on the other hand, you like multi-pitching and trad, you might want to consider getting a harness with more than four sizable gear loops to clip gear on.

In certain situations, the weight of extra gear loops is not so ideal; such as if you climb in remote locations with sizeable approach hikes, or if you need to be as light as possible on long multi-pitch or alpine routes.

However, if you are sport climbing, in the gym or at the crag, don’t worry too much about carrying up an extra 150 grams.

Versatility

Not every harness is made for every style of climbing.

Whether you’re looking for is an all-round harness that can handle any climbing terrain, or you are not yet sure what kind of climbing you will be doing most, selecting a harness that offers a high degree of versatility is your best bet.

You never know what sorts of climbing you’ll get into as a beginner!

With a versatile harness, you will be able to use it in all situations and never be worried about comfort or not having enough features.

Price

Obviously, you will  have to take into account the price of the harness and what your budget allows.

Remember, though, that it might be worth investing in a better, more durable and more versatile climbing harness that will last you for years, rather than buying a cheaper one that will need to be replaced after only a few months…

A harness’ value is not just about what it costs, but a combination of all the above categories. Try to assess how well it fits, its comfort and features and decide if it is worth the investment.

Again, it’s often better to spend a little more for gear designed to last, than to save a few bucks to get an inferior product that will probably need replacing sooner.

Size

Climbing harnesses usually have different sizes (standard sizes XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL). 

On the manufacturer’s page and harness description, you will find all the information and details in centimeters and inches. 

If you cannot try your harness on before buying it, make sure you have a tape measure on hand and take all the measurements you need before choosing. 

If, on the other hand, you can try on a harness, make sure it fits snugly but not too tightly. 

You want to be able to adjust the waist belt  and leg loops to accommodate layers of clothing, so you always want to have longish “tails” coming out of the buckles. 

Also, make sure it is not too big so that you cannot reach the end of the belt when you tighten it up. 

When it is snug, you should feel comfortable in it, but should not be able to pull it down over your hips. 

Leg loops can usually be a little looser, just so that you can move freely while climbing. You should always be able to slip a hand between the loop and your leg. 

When Should I Replace My Climbing Harness?

Of course, when buying a climbing harness you should also be thinking about how long you will be able to use it for.

A climbing harness is a piece of gear that you must be able to rely upon without any doubts. It literally is a matter of life and death! 

Most harnesses are made to last for years. But, they aren’t made to last forever.

When you will retire your harness really depends on how well you care for it and how often you use it. 

However, even if you do not use it at all, manufacturers recommend retiring your harness after seven years. If you use it daily, this time will be much much shorter. 

Before wearing your harness for climbing session, always check if you can see any damage on the webbing or excessive abrasion. 

If when checking your harness you find obvious signs of wear and tear  (like fraying stitches) on the belay loop,  tie-in points, leg loops, risers, or gear loops, you should retire it immediately.

Damage to the surface of the padding and other nonstructural parts is fine. Even gear loops are not super essential – but you wouldn’t want to lose your climbing gear if they were to break!

On the other hand, structural parts of the harness that hold your weight or connect you to your partner like the leg loops and belay loop and are critically important to have in good shape.

Some harnesses will even have wear markers on the belay loop and tie-in points which indicate when they are no longer safe to use.

Discoloration can also be a good sign to look out for that indicates it is time to replace your climbing harness. 

Another factor to take into account when considering retiring a harness is the environment and climate you climb in. Dirt, sunlight, sweat, and water are a harness’ biggest enemies, and excessive exposure to any of these will greatly reduce your harness’ lifespan. 

Of course, if you climb outdoors, you will have to replace your harness much more often than if you only climb at the gym!

If in doubt… Just replace it! Better safe than sorry.

Which Climbing Harness Should I Buy? 

Illustration of climbing harness types; sport climbing and trad harness

Now that you have an idea of what to look for and what you want in a  harness, you can totally find the best harness for you… It is out there, somewhere! 

Don’t forget to check for all the features you need, taking into account the kind of activities you will be using it for. 

Also, try on each harness or know your measurements to achieve the best possible fit for your body shape. 

There seems to be endless possibilities when it comes to searching for a climbing harness, but I hope this guide and our selection will help you make the right decision.

For more reading see: “Best Trad Climbing Harness: Ultimate Guide” and “15 Best Climbing Harnesses: Read This Before Buying!“.

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Published by Marta Fava