Ice climbing requires a light, supportive and adjustable harness with plenty of racking options for screws and the assortment of other specialized gear necessary for climbing frozen water and rock. While conventional cragging harnesses may initially seem appropriate, a more specialized ice-specific harness will be more comfortable, less bulky and easier to use.
While some padding is necessary during extended hanging belays, most ice climbers find their extra winter clothing provides sufficient protection from harness chafing. Realising this, many manufacturers minimize the padding in their pure ice climbing harnesses, reducing overall weight and bulk.
Climbers venturing onto thick multipitch pillars or long committing mixed lines need multiple gear loops and racking options for screws, pins and runners. Consider the gear loops’ position and ensure they are accessible even while wearing bulky clothing. This is less of a concern on pre-equipped sport-climbing style mixed lines where only quickdraws are required.
With the possibility of frequent weather changes that require the addition or removal of layers of clothing, it is critical that ice climbing harnesses offer sufficient adjustability. Legs loops and waist belts must fit over bulky insulation yet still shrink down for warmer conditions that require less clothing.
Like all of Petzl’s harnesses, the Adjama uses a highly ventilated frame construction, which provides support without excess weight. And as the company that popularized the single pull buckle system it’s not surprising that the Adjama is also outfitted with these easy-to-use buckles. Four gear loops (rigid in the front, flexible in the back) offer plenty of room for racking while the two Caritool slots add ice screw racking options.
Air CR -$100
At a feathery 238g, the Air CR is ideal for difficult ice or alpine climbing, where weight can mean the difference between success and failure. This feathery weight, however, comes with some minor sacrifices. The Air CR lacks more conventional and complex racking options, offering only two semi-rigid gear loop and two simple webbing gear loops. What it does not sacrifice is comfort. The wide, low-profile waist belt and leg loops take the sting out of extended belays while the easily adjustable single pass buckles ensure a secure fit.
Baffin Light -$90
With its padded waistbelt and simple webbing leg loops, the Baffin Light delivers comfort without adding unnecessary weight and bulk. The single pass buckles can be easily unclipped, allowing climbers to put the harness on over bulky boots or skis. Mammut adds a tough Hypalon patch with die-cut biner slots on the waist belt for racking screws and gear. For increased durability, a moulded plastic protector shields the leg-loop tie-in from rope abrasion.
Elite Syncro Ziplock -$70
The Syncro’s unique double front buckle system provides exceptional size adjustment while ensuring the gear loops remain equally positioned on the climber’s sides. Robust padding on the lumbar region provides plenty of support even during extended semi-hanging belays but does increase the Syncro’s overall weight. Seven gear loops with five ice-screw carabiner slots provide a shocking amount of racking options and eliminate the need for a shoulder gear rack on many routes.
Using a unique load-dispersing construction, the Logan provides great support with minimal bulk, making it an ideal choice for challenging ice routes. Edelrid includes other innovative features, like its position-adjustable gear loops for easy racking and a plastic-reinforced tie-in point for durability. Climbers can add ice screw racking clips and extra gear loops on the Logan’s Slide-Rail System for additional racking options on longer routes. Single-pull buckles on the waist and leg assure plenty of adjustment for most winter climbing situations.
X 350a -$175
Light and supple are the best ways to describe the X350 harness. Arc’teryx employs a unique body hugging construction with a structural exterior face fabric for even load distribution. Four gear loops provide plenty of racking space and integrated ice-screw carabiner slots assure easy access to protection. Slick single pass buckles allow effortless adjustments but the O-style leg loops may not be as comfortable for all climbers as the more common Y-shape.
Using its proprietary Kinetic Core Construction, Black Diamond creates a comfortable, light and versatile ice climbing harness. Single-pull adjustable buckles assure a secure fit while four gear loops and a haul line loop allude to the Xenos’s aptitude for multi-pitch ice routes. BD includes six ice-screw carabiner slots for unsurpassed gear organization.-GA