Climbing harnesses are one of the essential gear pieces every climber should have and they should be near the top of your gear list if you do not have one yet. Unless you strictly boulder and have no intention of changing that, you will eventually need to have your own climbing harness. Sooner is typically better than later.
Even if you are not climbing outside very often, you will thank yourself in the long run by having your own harness to bring with you to the gym. Once you ditch those crappy gym harnesses, you will never want to go back.
Some harnesses will come in unisex versions while others may be men’s or women’s editions. Due to the difference in body types, some versions will fit you better than others. I have found that most “unisex” harnesses will fit men better than they will women (on average). If you are someone who has significantly larger hips/legs than your waist, a women’s harnesses will likely fit you better.
In general, harnesses will typically last anywhere from 1 to 3 years of moderate use. Because you will be using your harness basically every time you go climbing for the next couple years, you will want to make sure that you are getting one that is comfortable and fits your needs.
My Recommended Climbing Harnesses:
All-Around (men’s): Petzl Adjama – Check its current price on Amazon here
All-Around (women’s): Petzl Luna – Check its current price on Amazon here
Below I expand upon why I recommend the climbing harnesses above and give tips on what to look for when buying a harness.
Recommended All-Around Harnesses
When looking to get a climbing harness, you will want to find one that is comfortable, versatile, and affordable. The majority of climbers will want to go with an all-around harness that lets them top rope and sport climb in both gym and outdoor settings.
Beginners especially will want an all-around harness because they are still experiencing everything climbing has to offer and will want a harness that allows them to do so. Even if you are a beginner and are only top roping right now and not sport climbing yet, you may have interest in trying it out (and loving it) later.
There really is no need for the average climber to break the bank and get a very expensive and highly specialized harness. Those very pricey harnesses are designed primarily for high performance competition or long multi-pitch trad climbing. The time may come later in your climbing career to get a more specialized harness depending on what you get into, but for the vast majority of climbers it is unnecessary and most likely a waste of money.
That said, you don’t want to get a really cheap one that is uncomfortable and annoying to wear. You will be wearing your harness very often so get one that you actually enjoy wearing. Harnesses are a gear piece that spending an extra few bucks will really go a long way.
They are constructed with a soft and breathable material that is both lightweight and durable. This material ensures that you are staying cool and comfortable without sacrificing the lifespan of your harness.
Their design is fantastic at evenly distributing your weight allowing you to climb for hours on end in comfort. Their waist belts are even shaped in a way to help support your lower back and hips while sitting in them.
In addition, they both have 5 gear loops plus an accessories loop. The 5 gear loops provide climbers with enough space to enjoy both sport and trad climbing. The accessories loop (while not a necessity) is a nice feature that will allow you to take your chalk bag and/or climbing brush along in comfort.
While there are more budget friendly options out there, I believe the Adjama and Luna to provide climbers the best mix of comfort, durability, and performance for the price.
If you are looking to save a few extra bucks you can opt for the Petzl Sama (men’s) / Petzl Selena (women’s). These harnesses are extremely similar to the Adjama / Luna but have fixed leg loops instead of adjustable ones.
The fixed leg loops will not allow you to customize the fit to your body. This may not be a big deal for you if you are someone who typically fits comfortably into most pairs of pants right off the rack. However, if you are someone who typically needs to spend a fair bit of time to find a pair of pants that fit right, I recommend opting to go with an adjustable leg loop harness instead.
Just remember, you are going to have the harness for the next few years so make sure you get one that you like wearing.