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The Best Climbing Harnesses for 2021

There are more harnesses than ever now, for climbers of all abilities and all kinds of climbing settings, from the gym to ice climbing

For over 20 years, our experienced climbers have tested over 100 different models of harnesses. Harnesses have different features for different styles of climbing, so be sure to read-up on what you’re going to purchase. Fit is about more than just size., so find a harness that suits your body and the clothes you’ll be climbing in.

This review will help you find the top harness for your choice of climbing, from single-pitch trad to overhanging sport routes to steep alpine lines. All prices are Canadian.

Metolius Safe Tech Trad

The Safetech line of Metolius harnesses were designed to double down on durability and, well, safety features. The Trad is described by Metolius as a “lightweight trad” harness, but it’s light enough for sport and the gym and featured enough for trad, multi-pitch and ice. The most obvious sign of the extra security is the two belay loops, doubling up on this already bombproof point. The locking speed buckle on the waistbelt keeps the webbing locked in place once tightened. The buckles on the leg loops are doubled back, which is very secure and, in use, almost as convenient as a two-piece sliding buckle since once adjusted, they are only rarely in need of further attention. The leg loop buckles also adjust the rise (the distance between the waist belt and leg loops), a fit adjustment few harnesses allow for. We did find that the buckles that hold the rear leg loops in place need to be kept in a horizontal position when putting on the harness or else they could fall out. Not a security problem, but a bit inconvenient. The four gear loops are capacious and flexible, so they’ll fold out of the way while chimneying.  A small loop is provided for a tagline or belay gear.  A burly all-around piece for folks who are hard on their harness.

Weight: 467 g (medium)
Sizes: s, m, l
Leg Loops: Adjustable
Four out of five stars
Price: $150

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Wild Country Session

The Session is a fully featured harness for all-round rock climber who want to climb trad as well as sport, and even ice. The ergonomically shaped waist-belt put most of the padding on the sides and less over the bony spine area, and it is surprisingly comfortable. Foam is rolled without harder stitch-lines over the top of the waist belt to prevent it from biting in to your skin. Five sturdy gear loops make lots of room for your rack. The rear loop is extra wide to allow it to double as gear loop or tag-line clip in. There are also attachments for ice screw clippers. The beautifully machined two-colour slide buckles on the leg loops and the harness are super-smooth to tighten or loosen. If you really intend to make your leg loops looser or tighter while you climb, take note. Comes with a storage bag. A top choice for anyone intending to do everything from ice to trad.

Weight: 385 g (medium)
Sizes: s, m, l, xl
Women’s model available
Leg Loops: adjustable
Four out of five stars
Price: $120

DMM Trance

Welsh climbing company DMM are more known for their hardware than their harnesses, at least in North America. The Trance, however, reflects the same attention to detail and innovation that made DMM’s other gear so sought-after. The Trance, although billed as “lightweight,” has burly Dynatec reinforcements in the tie-in points and belay loop to reduce abrasion. Five solid, spacious, gear loops will allow you to carry a trad rack and the tag line loop on the back makes it easy to haul a second line or to keep your belay gear separate. Ventilated padding makes it very comfortable. If you are buying your first harness, don’t worry that the leg loops aren’t adjustable, they’ll fit over any layer you’re likely to wear during rock climbing season anyway. Comes with a storage bag. A versatile gym and crag harness that will put up with lots of abuse.

Weight: 340 g (medium)
Sizes: xxs, s, med, l, xl
Leg Loops: fixed
Four out of five stars
Price: $80

Arc’teryx C-Quence

The very first product Arc’teryx made was climbing harnesses, and the C-Quence shows that they still make some of the best in the market.  The harness’s Warp-Strength technology is the term Arc’teryx uses to describe fanning out the fibres of the harness webbing so that the weight is distributed evenly and then laminating them in vented fabric on the inside and tough, abrasion-resistant material on the outside. The technology means the harness is soft, light, supple and packable but just as comfortable as a foam-lined harness. The C-Quence is the all-around rock-climbing harness from the Arc’teryx line-up, so the legs are not adjustable, eliminating buckles that are rarely used anyway. Most climbers will find that these loops fit fine over their ice climbing leg-wear. Four big, stiff plastic-reinforced gear loops and tabs for ice clippers give you lots of room for racking your gear. A loop at the back of the harness is good for either belay gear or a tag line. The leg loop keepers are easily unhooked from the waist belt and adjusted. This is a really comfortable, light, packable harness recommended for practically any kind of climbing.

Weight: 370 g (medium)
Sizes: xs, s, m, l, xl
Women’s model available
Leg Loops: fixed
Four out of five stars
Price: $200

Grivel Trend Leopard

The Grivel family of Courmayeur’s history making climbing gear goes back to 1818, when they started making tools for tourists who wanted to visit the Mont-blanc Range. They also produced the first modern crampon in the early 20th century. Now, the provide the first harnesses in faux leopard skin, with the Trend, and two other colourways one snakeskin and the other in a print evocative of modernist painting.  “In my climbing I have always looked for a harness that was safe but at the same time light, comfortable and captivating,” says Grivel Team member Alesandro Zeni.  On the practical side, the harness fits fairly small and if you usually take a medium, you might need a large. It’s lightweight and comfortable, if not extensively featured. The four gear loops are not very large, and a small lop at the back of the harness just barely fits a carabiner for a haul line or a belay device. There are elastic tabs for ice climbing gear racking tools. This is really a harness designed for the gym and sport climbing, where its unique looks will by noticed, so the lack of extensive racking and hauling options shouldn’t figure in its performance.

Weight: 295g (m)
Sizes: xs, s, m, l
Leg Loops: fixed
Three out of four stars
Price: $120

Petzl Corax

Petzl’s extensive experience making harnesses shows both in their high-end models and their workhorse Corax LT. The Corax LT, is an all-rounder like the Corax, but it has only one two-piece buckle on the waistbelt, making it simpler to use. The waistband around the polyester webbing strap is encased in closed cell foam laminated to a tough blue fabric with a denim-like texture. Two forward gear loops are rigid and the two rear loops are soft so that they’ll accommodate a pack and won’t cause you discomfort in a chimney. There are also loops for an ice gear racking device and a tab in the back for a tag line or belay gear.  The fixed leg loops, however, mean that you won’t be able to adjust them to fit over thicker winter layers. The Corax feels comfortable and soft, despite being a workhorse harness and that and its price will appeal to a broad range of climbers from gym climbers to trad climbers.  

Weight: 395 g (medium)
Sizes: xs, s, m, l, xl
Women’s model available
Leg Loops: fixed
Four out of five stars
Price: $80

Trango Horizon

The Horizon is part of Trango’s new line-up of harnesses for 2021. It’s got four gear loops, a loop on the back for belay gear or a tag line. Webbing loops on the harness make it easy to attach ice screw clippers. Ventilated foam lining keeps the harness pretty comfortable when you are hanging, especially given the stiffness of the waistbelt. The large two-piece waist-belt buckle is a bit grippy to tighten with one hand, but will become easier as the webbing soften a little with use.  One less fortunate aspect of the design is that the leg loop buckles o not overlap with foam and the top edges of the buckles rubbed against the legs of some users. A good all-around starter harness that covers all the bases for climbers who intend to do a little of it all. Spring 2021.

Weight: 340 g (medium)
Sizes: s, med, large, x-large
Leg Loops: adjustable
Three out of five stars