The Fun Is In The Climb

How to Put on a Climbing Harness – 5 Steps to the Perfect Fit

If you're an experienced climber this may seem like a silly question. What do you mean "how do I put on a climbing harness?" Well, for a beginner all those buckles, loops and straps can be very confusing. 

Properly fitting and putting on your harness is a major comfort and safety factor though, so it must be given the attention it deserves!

In this article we'll walk you through what the perfect fit for a climbing harness looks and feels like, common fitting issues, and five steps to making it happen!

The Perfect Fit for your Climbing Harness

Since climbing harnesses come in different models, it is crucial to follow the instructions and guidelines provided by the manufacturer of your specific harness. However, they are some general fitting procedures that apply to majority of climbing harnesses.

The perfect fitting climbing harness should make the user feel quite comfortable even when sitting upright. 

The user should also ensure that that the waist belt is not moving or shifting excessively. The user should tighten it to the point there is little to no moving and shifting. On the other hand, it shouldn't be so tight that it digs into the skin of the user is also not comfortable.

Climbing Harness Fit

The climber should consider a different model of the harness if points of pressure are noticed. The user can test for possible movements or shift by attempting to pull the waist belt down over one’s hips.

Another way of screening a waist belt for potential slippage involves inverting oneself and hanging on a test rope. Adjusting the rise of the climbing harness when the user feels that he or she is using too much of their core to help to maintain an upright posture. Leg loops contain adjustable elastic straps on the back that can help with this too. 

Shortening the rise also allows the user to sit upright without having to utilize too much of their core. If adjusting these things fails to make a difference you may need to try different climbing gear. Just like shoes, every person is entirely different and not every model will fit comfortably. Harness styles are also so varied that it is advisable to test a model until finding one that feels comfortable.

Common Climbing Harness Fitting Issues

Every climber should aspire to become a smarter and a safer climber. Learning from the mistakes of others is quite remarkable. Fitting errors can sour the experience of the climber or even result in serious or fatal injuries. One of the common fitting errors, especially with beginners, is failing to knot the terminal end of the rope. Even for experienced climbers, slipping off the terminals of rappel ropes is quite common and tragic.

Every time the user rappels, it is vital to ensure that the end of the rope is tightly knotted. Other climbers forget to wear a helmet. Helmets safeguard the climbers from possible head injuries after flipping upside down, slamming the wall or decking while climbing. Always assess the potential risks before making any decision to climb without wearing a helmet. Failing to double-check the knots and belay is another serious fitting error.

Climbers should always double-check the knots. It is so important that we advise partners should take turns to double check their knots. The user should correctly thread the ties via the harness. When belaying, it is crucial to ensure that the locking carabiners in the entire system are entirely locked. The rope should also be threaded correctly.

Back-clipping also increases the chances of unclipping the rope from the carabiner in case of an accidental fall. When clipping the rappel rope into a quick draw, the user should always make sure that the end comes out of the carabiner, far away from the wall. Climbing partners should also have proper communication devices before commencing the exercise.

5 Steps to Putting on Your Harness

Every climber needs to take ample time when putting on a climbing harness. Putting the safety gear on in a hurry might result in serious errors. A harness that is not properly adjusted endangers the life of the user. Therefore, one needs to follow all the steps provided by the manufacturer and other experts to stay safe:


Begin by loosening the Velcro, the waist buckles, and the two leg-loop buckles. Making sure everything is free enables the climber to wear the climbing gear without loosening the leg loops while pulling it up.


Ensure that the climbing harness face forward. The leg circles ought not be flipped around or wound. This sounds silly but it's amazing how many times we've seen beginner climbers ask why their harness isn't fitting only to find out they are attempting to put it on backwards. As though wearing a pair of shorts, clench onto the waist belt. You can then step into the two leg loops.


The next step involves tightening the waist to ensure that it is not falling as one adjusts the leg loops. Make sure that the waist belt rests appropriately above the hip bones. The user should not attempt to wear it very far below the navel, similar to a low-rise pair of pants. That obviates the harness from any possible slipping, especially if the user accidentally flips upside down.


The next step involves tightening the leg loops. Ensure that leg loops are well tightened to prevent any possibility of flopping around. However, the user needs to make sure that he or she is comfortable. The leg loops should comfortably hug the girth of the climber’s thighs.


The final step involves double-backing all the buckles, just in case the user forgot to do it before. Double-backing involves threading all the straps via their buckles, and passing them over themselves in the buckles. Climbing partners should also take time to ensure that their harnesses are well double-backed.

There you have it! You now know how to fit your harness perfectly and a 5 step process for how to put on a climbing harness! If you have any questions on the process please comment below and we will clarify! 

Also, for more great articles about all things climbing, check out RPC's Advice section!

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