What is the point in wearing a safety harness that is too warn down to protect you in case of a fall? We don't know either. Now, safety harnesses can last for years, but its important that you know when to replace a climbing harness and are watching for the signs.
In this article we'll cover common forms of wear and tear that is common to climbing harnesses, how long the average harness lasts, and how to store it to get the most use out of it you can.
Signs of Wear and Tear on a Harness
Inspecting your harness for wear and tear should remain a top priority. Noticeable signs incorporate scraped spots, cuts, and tears that occur on many harness brands. However, you have to distinguish the severe warnings from the typical signs. Any damage to the hardware no matter how small should not be overlooked. The safety equipment should be removed from service until a specialist ascertains that it is safe to use.
A malformed, twisted, or buckled hardware indicates that the harness is not safe to use. Signs like rust, nicks, dents, and cracks should also not be ignored. The rust on the hardware should not exceed the recommended 15 percent threshold. Equipment that has visible signs of spotting or rust could be okay to use. However, you can test it integrity by rubbing the rust between your thumb and forefinger.
In the event that you are left with a deposit surpassing 15 percent, expel the safety equipment from use. Additionally, check for push lines, scratches, dents and splits. Just discard your safety equipment if you notice such signs. Burrs on the hardware also serve as signs of an underlying issue or a casting problem. If you see burrs, remove your harness from service until it has been examined and verified by a certified expert.
Stains indicate potential chemical damage. You can quickly note a chemical damage if the underneath webbing is hardened or damaged. Color fading is a perfect indicator of UV damage. Storing your harness in direct sunlight for an extended period also weakens the strap resulting in UV damage.
For more information on identifying signs of wear and tear on your harness check out this video:
How Long Most Harnesses Last
Pinpointing the actual lifetime of the harness is an uphill task. Each safety equipment has a distinct lifetime even if the style and the brand are the same. The users face different setbacks while climbing in various locations. They also employ different climbing styles. Most manufacturers recommend that the climbing safety equipment can be used for three to five years.
However, the safety equipment can last for one decade or more if the user follows proper usage and care procedures as per the manufacturer’s user manual. The user should inspect the harness for probable wear signs before using it in the next climbing session. The acceptable international stands for using a harness warns climbers from using equipment if a professional inspection reveals defects.
The user should first refer the equipment for expert corrective maintenance before using it again or permanently remove it from service. Therefore, the end-user should refrain from using any safety equipment that is not fit to use for any climbing session.
If the harness is subjected to a severe fall, it will be limited to one use. Clean your safety equipment well and store it properly so as to ensure it lasts for a long time. A harness that is stored in a location that is clean, dry, as well as, free from any exposure to dangerous corrosive elements or fumes is also likely to have a long lifespan.
Ultimately, strictly adhering to the maintenance, storage and inspection guidelines provided by the manufacturer will go a long way toward extending the lifetime of your harness.
How to Store a Harness to Increase Longevity
If you are a serious climber, you have to value your harness. You cannot just throw you safety equipment to the locker or the van after use and expect it to last longer. Never leave your safety equipment on the work-face. Such negligence exposes your harness to dangerous elements: direct sunlight, freezing temperatures, heat, and rain. You should always clean, transport, and store your safety equipment in a clean, dry and cool place to extend its lifespan.
You just need to machine wash your harness with warm or cool water. The machine should also be cleaned out of softener residues or soap before using it to clean the safety equipment. Then ensure that the safety equipment is completely dry before storing it.
Always hang your harness to prevent it from being torn, dirty, damp, bent or crushed by other objects. Harmful chemicals such as paints, fuel, alkalis, and acids cause more often severe damage to nylon and polyester fibers.
The webbing fibers are also easily destroyed by sharp objects. You have also to ensure that the storage is free from any direct heat source including sunlight. The UV rays and heat play an integral role in compromising the material making up the harness.
The climbing safety equipment can instantly fail when it is needed most, especially when it has been extensively exposed to UV light. You also need to limit the accessibility to your climbing safety equipment.
Anyone who has never used a harness before is likely to damage it. The user may also decide to modify or readjust your harness and end up causing severe damage to the safety equipment. Anyone borrowing your harness is also likely to return it without cleaning.
Do you have any tips for identifying wear and tear for a harness or when to replace it? We'd love to hear them! Leave us a comment below with your best tips!
Also, check out the rest of our climbing advice to make sure you know what you need for your next great adventure!