rock climbers

High up on a multi-pitch. 

Sitting in a hanging belay. The straps uncomfortably cut into your sides and legs. 

You look down again, and try to mentally will your partner to hurry up. 

What is taking them so long? 

It’s an uncomfortable scenario that’s all too common. Fortunately, there are various harnesses which were designed with this in mind. 

That’s why we’ve scoured the internet to bring you this ultimate list of the best climbing harnesses for when comfort is king. Here, we’ve covered the most comfortable rock climbing harnesses out there, by climbing category.

Hey! By the way… this page contains affiliate links. So if you make a purchase after clicking one at no cost to you we may earn a small commission. Thanks for your support!

Most Comfortable Harnesses

Here are our most comfortable harnesses by each category. For more info, see the detailed reviews below:

Most Comfortable Men’s Harness for Indoor Climbing and On-Sight Sport Climbing

This harness is our pick for gym climbing and on-sight sport climbing. In these situations, you want to be comfortable belaying and climbing in your harness, but huge gear loops and mammoth layers of padding are less important.

The Black Diamond Solution harnesses are built around their Fusion Comfort construction, which distributes loads through a series of bands around the waist and thighs to reduce pressure points.

That simply means it’s comfortable to fall in, but will also smoothly distribute the impact of catching your buddy’s fall.

At 12.3oz, this harness is light enough that you should hardly notice you’re wearing it; perfect for onsight sends or long social nights at the gym.

This affordable harness is also one of the cheapest models available with such a comfort-focused design. 

One common complaint about this harness is that it has small gear loops. This shouldn’t be a problem for gym climbing and on-sight sport climbing, but does mean it’s probably not a good harness to take up your next trad multi-pitch.

Most Comfortable Women’s Harness for Indoor Climbing and On-Sight Sport Climbing

The Black Diamond Solution Women’s model has all the same great features as the men’s model, but with different waist, hip and thigh proportions better adapted to most women’s body shapes.

That means the same great Fusion Comfort construction to distribute load and eliminate pressure points when falling or catching your partner’s falls. 

At 12.7oz, it’s lightweight, so you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it as you dyno to victory on your onsight, or when you’re chatting with your buddies in the gym while resting up between routes. And it’s affordable too. 

Most Comfortable Men’s Harness For Multi-Pitching

Edelrid’s Sendero is our pick for the most comfortable men’s multi-pitch climbing harness. 

To our minds, a comfortable harness for multi-pitching needs to be comfortable to hang around in for long periods of time, easily and accessibly rack lots of gear, be adjustable, comfortable to walk in, and reasonably light. Although it’s our pick for multi-pitch comfort, this versatile harness would also be well suited to hard sports climbing and working projects.

Edelrid’s Sendero is built around their Soft Frame construction, a split webbing design to spread the load of hanging about, catching falls, and carrying a full multi-pitch rack across a wide surface area. 

It has five well sized gear loops to carry all the gear you could need, including a rear gear loop for multi-pitching gear like extra belay devices and prusik loops. It also has space for two ice screw clips for winter climbing. 

Also, the leg loops are adjustable, which is great because comfort also means being able to change your clothing layers as the weather shifts part way through your next mountain epic. All this, and it weighs in at only 11.7oz.

Most Comfortable Women’s Harness For Multi-Pitching

Edelrid’s Autana is the women’s equivalent to their Sendero model, our top pick for men’s multi-pitch climbing comfort. It has all the same great features as the men’s model, but with waist, hip and thigh proportions better adapted to most women’s body shapes.

The Autana is an ideal blend of features and performance to take you comfortably up your next multi-pitch. 

At just 11.8oz, you’ll also hardly notice it on the long hike in. Its Soft Frame construction does a great job of spreading the load of hanging out at cramped belays and carrying gear across a wide surface area. 

It has five generous gear loops, including a rear loop, to carry all the gear you could need to get you up your pitches and safely back down again. It also has space for two ice screw clips for winter climbing. 

And importantly, its leg loops are adjustable, so that when weather conditions shift up in the mountains, you can easily change your layering system to adapt and stay warm.

Most Comfortable Harness for Trad Climbing

The Misty Mountain Cadillac is the best harness for trad climbing comfort, and has been designed from ground up with the needs of trad climbers in mind. 

This thing is a monster compared to anemic sports climbing harnesses, with wide and thickly padded waist and leg loops. Because of this, you’ll hardly feel the pressure of the triple rack that its six spacious gear loops and additional rear haul loop allow you to carry and easily access. 

If you’re planning on carrying a lot of gear, this is the best trad harness on the market. 

If you plan on big wall climbing, this would also be our top pick amongst big wall harnesses. And the Cadillac also has ice clipper slots for ice screws so that you can also take it alpine and ice climbing.

This harness is fully adjustable, with adjustment buckles around the thighs as well as two at the hips. The double buckles on the hips are particularly interesting as they allow you to keep your harness perfectly centered, even if your trad rack is unevenly weighted on either side.

All this padding, adjustability, and large gear loops do come at the price of weight. This harness weighs in at 19oz. Although comfortable to wear, sport climbers might want to buy a separate harness for days clipping bolts.

The Cadillac comes in men’s and women’s models, which are adapted for the differences in typical waist, hip, and thigh proportions of either sex. 

It also comes in two buckle types – either quick-adjust or the old-school double pass design – of which we recommend the quick-adjust for comfort and ease of use.

Most Comfortable and Popular Light-Weight Harness

At 9.7oz, the Petzl Sitta harness is the best pick for a comfortable and ultralight option. Although it’s not the absolute lightest harness on the market, we believe that it’s the best choice for a practical and comfortable harness that can be used across a variety of contexts. 

This harness only comes in a unisex model. 

The harness uses Petzl’s Wireframe construction to provide maximum comfort without heavy padding, spreading the load of hanging and catching falls across parallel bands of dyneema webbing. 

This lack of padding prevents it from being a truly comfortable harness like it could be said about the heavier models we’ve explored above. Nevertheless, you’ll still see plenty of people wearing this harness around the limestone sports crags of Southern Europe, a testament to its suitability for long days at the crag.

Petzl has even given special attention to the harness’ durability, building it with a Dyneema belay loop and tie-in points to resist abrasion.

The Sitta’s light weight and lack of padding mean it is ideal for wearing on long days that involve as much scrambling as vertical climbing, as you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it. However, if you plan to use this as an alpine climbing harness, you should know that it does not have adjustable leg loops

What really distinguishes this harness from other harnesses in the light-weight category though is that it’s still a fully featured harness

It has five gear loops to carry a full rack of climbing equipment, including a rear loop and two very large front gear loops. This means it can comfortably be used for trad climbing and alpine climbing, as well as redpoint burns on your hard sports climbing project. 

If there’s one harness that can comfortably suit all purposes, this is it.

Why harness comfort matters

Here’s how I found out why harness comfort matters.

I’d been working and redpointing a route at my limit for a few days when lower body pains started sinking in. The cruxes of the route were cryptic, and I was doing a lot of hang-dogging, thanks to a very patient belayer.

At first, I just felt a bit of an ache around the lower back and legs, but after a few days, this became a constant dull pain.

I asked the internet what was wrong, which of course sent me down a trail of reading about dramatic possible medical conditions, all of which made me wish that I was in a country where I spoke the language and could easily make a doctor’s appointment to calm my racing hypochondria.

I hoped that my redpoint project wouldn’t be ruined by these mysterious aches.

I tried to figure out what had changed to have me feeling so sore. I had changed climbing harnesses just before the aches set in. 

My old, comfy harness had begun looking a bit too tatty. Too many close encounters with chimneys and too many whips had it looking a bit too seasoned.

So I’d swapped it out for my spare climbing harness, a cheap model that was great in the gym. 

My partner, who knows where internet searches about strange body pains inevitably lead, and who also didn’t want to lose a climbing day to a visit to the doctor, suggested that I try wearing her harness.

I gratefully accepted and over the next couple of days, as I hung about in my partner’s harness and inched my way closer and closer to success on my project, my aches disappeared.

Eventually, I clipped the chains, claimed the send, and the next rest day settled in to a day of internet searching to buy myself a new and comfortable harness.

If you’re looking for more info on climbing harnesses check out this article

When is it important to have a comfortable harness?

Man climbing rock

It’s always important! A good climbing harness that gives you the most comfortable climb is one of the keys to a better performance and experience!

But it’s important to know that a rock climbing harness that’s comfortable for one type of climbing might not be so comfortable for another.

My gym harness was great in the gym but not so great for hanging around in the same spot for hours at a time, as you might find yourself doing when redpointing a crux-y route or multi-pitching. Equally, your multi-pitch harness might feel bulky for gym sessions or wearing while hiking.

To begin with, it’s important to ask yourself what type of climbing you will mostly be doing with your harness.

  • Are you rock climbing in the gym or mostly on-sighting sport routes?
  • Are you doing a lot of red-pointing at your limit, working beta and hanging around?
  • Are you going multi-pitching and likely to spend time at cramped belay stances?
  • Are you going trad climbing and carrying a huge rack of gear?
  • Are you looking for a harness that you can just about forget you’re wearing because it’s so light, or climbing at your limit?

These are the questions that will help you identify the best climbing harness for your purposes.

What makes a harness comfortable?

woman climbing rock

First up, a climbing harness needs to fit you well. The waist belt and thigh loops need to sit in the right position for you to feel comfortable just standing around or belaying.

Everybody’s proportions are a little different, so it’s worth trying on a few different harnesses at this point to see what sits best for you.

Now, most harnesses come in “men’s” and “women’s” versions, but all this really means is slightly different waist, hip, and thigh proportions. Go for what fits you best. As a man, I have no problem rocking a pair of “women’s” climbing shoes, and my wife has often bought “men’s” harnesses. The important thing is how it fits you.

Leg Loops

When it comes to leg loops, harnesses are often sold under two similar or otherwise identical models, with the only difference being that one has adjustable leg loops and the other are fixed leg loops. It’s important that your harness’ leg loops should sit comfortably around your thighs but not be too tight.

  • Adjustable legs are great for getting a perfect fit for your individual proportions.
  • Also great for a harness that you intend to use in situations that require layered clothing, like cold weather climbing.
  • However, adjustable leg loops wear out faster than non-adjustable leg loops as the webbing moves around the buckle while climbing. This is a compromise that’s worth bearing in mind.

Padding and Waist Belt

For hanging around and cushioning falls, the foam padding and waist belt proportions determine how comfortable you will be in your harness. Generally, the wider the waist belt and heavier the harness, the more comfortable it will be for this.

At its core, a harness is basically just a well padded sling that wraps all around you and connects you into your rope. A wider harness with thicker padding will allow force to be distributed across a greater area, rather than concentrating the shock of your or your partners’ falls into a narrow band.

Webbing Construction in Climbing Harnesses

Recently, harness manufacturers have begun using split webbing constructions in their higher end models to make their harnesses more comfortable.

Rather than a single strap of webbing wrapping around the hips and thighs, the webbing is now split to cover more surface area. Each manufacturer has its own name for the technology, but the gist is that it allows the webbing to wrap around the frame of the harness rather than being a single loop running down the center. 

Edelrid provides a good explanation of the technology and different webbing types: 

different webbing types

The webbing might be split in two to run along the edges of the harness, or even split into a honeycomb-style pattern in ultra high-end and ultra-lightweight harness models. This allows harnesses to be much lighter for the same level of comfort. The load bearing webbing covers a larger surface area, so less padding is required.

Men’s Harness vs Women’s Harness – The Difference

There are such big differences in body types between men and women, and it’s just as well that brands have come out with gender-specific models for each.

However! As mentioned before, it’s not necessary to follow these models according to gender, and really, it all comes down to which is most suited and comfortable for your body.

Key Differences

  • Distance between waist belt and leg loops – women tend to have smaller and higher waists compared to their male counterparts, so women’s climbing harnesses usually have a longer rise (farther apart) to accommodate their shape and sit comfortably around their waist, whereas the men’s harness has a short rise.
  • Waist and leg loop size – men tend to have a bigger waist-to-leg loop ratio, while women have a smaller waist-to-leg loop ratio, and their respective harness models accommodate the difference in body types.
  • Waist belt shape – as women’s hips usually sit differently from men, the women’s waist belt is narrower at the top and wider at the bottom to accommodate a smaller waist and wider hip, while the men’s waist belt is straighter cut.

Now that you know the differences, you can try out the gender-specific or gender-neutral models for yourself and see which fit feels the most comfortable for you!

Hanging Comfort vs Standing Comfort

man rappeling down with red climbing pants

Now, while comfort is one of the key goals when buying a harness, models will vary in how comfortable they are when in different positions.

Standing comfort is important in general. But hanging comfort is essential.

When hanging, you’re putting your whole weight on the harness, and if it’s not comfortable, you’ll have a very unpleasant time on the rock. It’s the same case when you’re hanging on belay; it needs to support and be comfortable at the same time.

A harness with good standing comfort and mobility is important too when looking for an ideal harness, but be sure to prioritize hanging comfort when purchasing your one. 

What to Look For in Comfortable Harnesses for Gym Climbing and Onsight Sport Climbing

Man climbing in gym

If gym and sport climbing are the main types of climbing that you’re doing, you’re in luck, because most sport-climbing harnesses are comfortable enough for your needs! If this is you, your sport climbing harness needs to:

  • Sit comfortably on your hips and around your thighs.
  • Have enough padding to smooth out the impact of any falls that you take or any that you catch as a belayer.
  • Have accessible gear loops for your quickdraws.

In this case, you should focus on the most straightforward question: is this harness comfortable to wear?

We all have different body shapes, so it’s worth trying on a few different harnesses to feel what sits well on you, and even try different men and women models to determine your best fit.

Additionally, some people prefer hanging their chalk from their harness rather than having it around their waist. If this is you, make sure your harness has some sort of attachment point at the back, like a haul loop or fifth gear loop, to use as a chalk bag loop.

If you have a gear shop nearby, try hanging briefly in a few harnesses in the store to simulate how they might feel when catching or taking a fall. Try racking 15 quickdraws on the harness and see how comfortable they are to access.

Why Harness Comfort is Important for Working Routes and Multi-Pitching

Working the beta of a route at your limit can involve a lot of hanging around. Between rehearsing beta and hanging about recovering for another go, you could be sitting in your harness for quite a long time. In this case, comfort is key.

The same idea goes for multi-pitch climbs. You might not be planning to work any moves or take many falls, but harness comfort is still paramount.

Multi-pitch climbing goes hand-in-hand with cramped belay stances and semi-hanging belays. Often, that semi-hanging belay will happen on the exact pitch that your partner spends just a little longer than you’d hoped navigating a wet patch on the route, confused because the route description doesn’t match the reality in front of them, or summoning up the courage to climb past a character-building runout.

All this time, you’re sitting back in your harness trying to get a good view of your partner, barely standing on your little belay perch, and with a full length of rope coiled and hanging off your harness. Here, you’ll be glad you spent that little bit extra on a multi-pitch harness.

Multi-pitch harnesses will also have rear gear loops to allow you to more comfortably carry those extra bits of gear, like a guide mode belay device to belay from above, that you wouldn’t need in single pitch climbing.

Sport Climbing Harnesses vs Trad Climbing Harnesses

climbing rock

Trad climbing usually has you taking time to place gear and figuring out where the route goes.

It’s a fact that you’re going to be up there for longer than if the route was bolted. And while you’re up there, you’re going to be carrying more gear than just a rack of sports draws. Sometimes, a lot more gear.

Try loading a double rack or a bunch of big cams onto a standard gym or sport harness and wearing that for the better part of a day, and you’ll understand why a more supportive harness is important for trad climbers.

Typically, this means a trad climbing harness with a wide waist belt and chunky padding, though the latter is now changing thanks to advances in harness design.

Depending on how you rack your climbing gear and how much you’re carrying, most harnesses that are appropriate for working sport routes or multi-pitch climbing will probably be fine. However, an extra consideration for trad climbing comfort is also the size and accessibility of your gear loops. While sport harnesses typically only have four gear loops, extra gear loops are key to comfortably racking your trad gear.

Some harness’ gear loops are just too small to comfortably rack your trad gear and then, crucially, un-rack it from your harness at the moment when you need it. 

What you’re looking for is a harness with 5-7 large gear loops – good gear carrying capabilities – so that you can carry all the gear you need and no single gear loop will be too crowded to comfortably access your gear.

What Makes For a Comfortable Harness When Weight Matters?

Going for the send on a route that is really hard? Maybe you’re competing? Just want to carry less weight around your waist while moving around on a long day? 

In this case, harnesses like the Petzl Sitta are ideal because of their modern split webbing construction, which provides top-end comfort while keeping weight down. These harnesses split working loads across multiple bands, rather than the traditional design, which saw all the force concentrated on a single band of webbing.

Look for light-weight harnesses with split webbing construction and without heavy padding for when weight matters.

More reading. Check our best trad climbing harness or the best full body kids harnesses.

Published by Editorial Staff

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