Best Climbing Harness in 2021 (Guide & Reviews)

by Gaby Pilson
Last Updated: August 26, 2021
Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

Climbing harnesses are an integral part of any climber’s gear list. Without a quality harness, your days in the vertical world can be uncomfortable or, frankly, even dangerous.

As a result, we want you to have the best possible gear for your needs, which is why we’ve created this guide to the top climbing harnesses on the market today. Up next, we’ll introduce you to our 5 favorite harnesses for rock climbing and we’ll even offer some of our top tips for selecting the perfect model for your projects.

The top 5 climbing harness we recommend for 2021:

Buying guide: What you should look for when buying a climbing harness

The Best Climbing Harnesses Reviewed

Editor’s Pick: Edelrid Sendero

Edelrid Sendero on white background
Edelrid Sendero
Editor’s Pick
Key Features:
  • 5 gear loops for storage
  • Wear indication system
  • 3D mesh padding throughout
  • Soft Frame Construction
Pros
  • Lightweight, yet comfortable design
  • Affordable price point
  • Soft webbing edges to increase comfort
  • Dyneema-reinforced belay loop
Cons
  • Not as breathable as the competition

An all-around performer in a wide range of different mountain contexts, the Edelrid Sendero is an affordable, yet versatile choice for any climbing enthusiast.

The Sendero has a decidedly functional design that prioritizes comfort throughout every element of its constructions. This comfort-focused design starts with Edelrid’s decision to use a Soft Frame Construction, which is able to better distribute weight and force throughout the body instead of concentrating it around the hips.

Meanwhile, the Sendero has 3D mesh padding around the waist belt and the leg loops, as well as soft webbing edges to help prevent the integrated belt from digging in while belaying or hanging on the rope.

When it comes to performance on the rock, this harness doesn’t disappoint because it comes with 5 gear loops and 2 attachment points for ice screw holders. Meanwhile, the Sendero has fully adjustable and droppable leg loops, which makes it suitable for use in the gym and in the mountains.

Wrapping up a great list of features is the harness’ built-in wear-indication system. Throughout the tie-in points and the Dyneema-reinforced belay loop, Edelrid installed a set of red indicator fibers that provide an early warning in instances of excessive wear and tear for increased protection at the crag.

Tech Specs: 

  • Best Use: All-around
  • Weight: 11.1oz (315g)
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Number of Gear Loops: 5
  • Ice Clipper Slots: Yes
Edelrid Sendero on white background
Edelrid Sendero
Editor’s Pick

Upgrade Pick: Arc’teryx AR-395a

Arc’teryx AR-395a on white background
Arc’teryx AR-395a
Upgrade Pick
Key Features:
  • WST increases comfort on the climb
  • 4 gear loops and 4 ice clipper slots
  • Self locking buckles
  • Adjustable leg loops
Pros
  • Comfortable enough for all-day use
  • Versatile design can be used in any type of climbing
  • Rear quick hook allows you to go to the toilet without taking the harness off
Cons
  • Pricey

The newly revamped version of Arc’teryx’s award-winning climbing harness, the AR-395a is a versatile, all-around premium choice for climbers that won’t settle for second best.

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Designed to perform, whether you’re trad, sport, alpine, or ice climbing, the AR-395a is an innovative new harness that manages to provide comfortable protection in a variety of environments. 

What really sets this harness apart from the competition, however, is Arc’teryx’s proprietary WST (Warp Strength Technology) design. As a result of this design, this harness evenly spreads weight and pressure throughout your lower body, preventing uncomfortable pinch points and increasing your comfort, even on longer climbs.

The harness comes with a set of self locking buckles and fully adjustable leg loops to provide a precision fit, regardless of the clothes you’re wearing. Meanwhile, it has a stainless steel quick hook on the back of each leg loop that allows you to use the toilet without taking off your harness.

If that wasn’t enough, the Arc’teryx AR-395a has 4 gear loops, 4 ice clipper slots for ice screws, and a rear haul loop to give you plenty of options for gear storage mid-climb. Ultimately, this harness might not be the most affordable on the market, but it's quality of design is second to none.

Tech Specs: 

  • Best Use: All-around climbing
  • Weight: 13.9oz (395g)
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes 
  • Number of Gear Loops: 4
  • Ice Clipper Slots: Yes
Arc’teryx AR-395a on white background
Arc’teryx AR-395a
Upgrade Pick

Best Value: Black Diamond Momentum

Black Diamond Momentum on white background
Black Diamond Momentum
Best Value
Key Features:
  • TrakFIT adjustable leg loops
  • Pressure-molded gear loops
  • Bullhorn-shaped waist belt for comfort
  • Speed Adjust waist belt
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable enough for all-day cragging
  • Drop leg clip at the rear
  • Easy to clip gear on while mid-climb
Cons
  • Relatively small gear loops
  • No ice screw slots

A budget-friendly option for cost-conscious climbers, the Black Diamond Momentum is a harness that’s as comfortable at the crag and in the gym as it is on multi-pitch routes.

When the Momentum first hit the market back in the day, it made waves, thanks to its ability to blend affordability with quality. Its well-padded waist and leg loops provide ample comfort during long climbing and belay sessions while its Bullhorn-shaped waist belt helps to reduce painful pinching while hanging mid-route.

Moreover, its pre-threaded Speed Adjust waist belt buckle allows for easy on/off in between routes and the harness’ adjustable TrakFIT leg loops make it versatile enough for occasional forays into cold climbing conditions.

For gear storage, Black Diamond built this harness with 4 pressure-molded gear loops, as well as 1 haul loop for towing a tagline. Since the gear loops on the Momentum are covered in pressure-molded plastic, they also make it easier to quickly clip carabiners onto your harness while you’re working your way up the wall.

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Finally, unlike many affordable harness options out there, Black Diamond left no stone unturned when they crafted this model with a drop leg clip in the rear so you can head to the loo without taking your harness off. As a result, it’s a functional enough harness for indoor and outdoor use, making it a great option for warm cragging and short multi-pitch adventures. 

Tech Specs: 

  • Best Use: Gym, Sport, Single Pitch Trad
  • Weight: 10.7oz (302g)
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Number of Gear Loops: 4
  • Ice Clipper Slots: No
Black Diamond Momentum on white background
Black Diamond Momentum
Best Value

Best For Trad Climbing: Black Diamond Solution Guide

Black Diamond Solution Guide on white background
Black Diamond Solution Guide
Best For Trad Climbing
Key Features:
  • Fusion Comfort Technology
  • Super Fabric for durability
  • 5 gear loops for storage
  • Low-volume design for easier packing
Pros
  • Plenty of gear storage, even for bulky items
  • Abrasion-resistant fabric
  • Design reduces uncomfortable pressure points
  • Distributes loads well at hanging belays
Cons
  • Non-adjustable leg loops

If you’re looking to tackle more complex trad climbs, the Black Diamond Solution Guide should be at the top of your list.

Known for being comfortable without sacrificing performance, the Solution Guide uses the company’s proprietary Fusion Comfort Technology, which integrates 3 strands of low-profile webbing throughout the leg loops and waist to better distribute load around your body. 

At the same time, this system helps to reduce pressure points, especially in particularly sensitive areas. It also has a fully adjustable waist belt and a set of fixed leg loops, the latter of which helps to cut down on weight and bulk in the mountains.

Meanwhile, the Solution Guide brings its A game when it comes to durability. It’s made with Super Fabric, which is a highly abrasion-resistant material with reinforced guard plates that protect the harness from undue wear and tear.

When it comes to gear storage, this harness is no slouch. It has a set of 4 pressure molded gear loops, which make it easier to clip carabiners on during a climb, as well as a large fifth gear loop for storing approach shoes, gloves, and other bulky pieces of equipment.

Tech Specs: 

  • Best Use: Single Pitch Trad & Multi-Pitch
  • Weight: 14oz (394g)
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: No
  • Number of Gear Loops: 5
  • Ice Clipper Slots: No
Black Diamond Solution Guide on white background
Black Diamond Solution Guide
Best For Trad Climbing

Best For Alpinism: Petzl Sitta

Petzl Sitta on white background
Petzl Sitta
Best For Alpinism
Key Features:
  • WIREFRAME construction
  • Adjustable gear loop organizers
  • Abrasion-resistant fabric
  • Ultralight weight
Pros
  • 4 gear loops for storage
  • Highly packable design
  • 2 CARITOOL ice screw holder slots
  • Very breathable
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Not great for lots of hanging on the rope

If weight savings and exceptional performance are at the top of your must-have list, Petzl’s premier alpinism, mountaineering, and sport climbing harness - the Sitta - might be what you need.

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This ultra high-tech harness was crafted primarily with performance in mind, as it uses Petzl’s proprietary WIREFRAME construction to achieve an impressively sleek design. Thanks to this technology, the Sitta has an exceptionally thin waist belt and leg loops, which is able to distribute load throughout the harness without the need for foam, which increases weight and bulk.

Moreover, the harness is made with a highly abrasion-resistant nylon fabric which allows for plentiful breathability on hot days in the mountains. At the same time, it has minimal through-stitching to help reduce uncomfortable pressure points at hanging belays.

For gear, the Petzl Sitta has a total of 4 gear loops, 2 of which are oversized for increased storage space. These oversized gear loops also have a built-in divider to help you better organize your gear while climbing.

Additionally, the Sitta has a single rear haul loop, which can be used for hauling a tagline, as well as 2 CARITOOL holder slots for ice screw storage when tackling winter climbs.

Tech Specs: 

  • Best Use: Alpinism, Mountaineering & Sport Climbing
  • Weight: 9.5oz (270g)
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: No 
  • Number of Gear Loops: 4
  • Ice Clipper Slots: Yes
Petzl Sitta on white background
Petzl Sitta
Best For Alpinism

Buyer’s Guide To Climbing Harnesses

There are dozens of great harnesses on the market today, so it’s critical that you have all the information you need to make the right decision on your next piece of gear. In this section, we’ll discuss the basics of climbing harnesses so you’re more informed before you shop.

Types Of Harnesses

It turns out that there are many different types of harnesses out there, each crafted for a specific type of climbing. While some harnesses are versatile enough to work well for multiple vertical pursuits, some are only really appropriate for a small subset of the climbing population.

Here’s what you need to know.

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Sport & Gym Climbing

Harnesses that are designed for sport and gym climbing tend to emphasize simplicity and weight savings. Since most gym and sport climbers usually carry, at most, a belay device, some slings, and a handful of quick draws, these harnesses tend to be slim on features in an attempt to save as much weight as possible.

These harnesses tend to have just a few gear loops (sometimes as few as 2) and non-adjustable, elastic leg loops. You’ll often find that they’re quite comfortable, as they’re meant for folks who spend a lot of time belaying or hanging on a climb. 

Trad Climbing

Trad climbing harnesses usually focus on overall gear carrying capacity, as trad climbing is a gear-intensive pursuit. You’ll usually find that trad-specific harnesses have 4 or more gear loops, as well as haul loops or rear anchoring points, depending on the model.

Unlike sport climbing harnesses, trad models prioritize versatility, so they’ll often have adjustable leg loops and even drop leg loops, which can detach from the waist belt if you need to use the toilet during a climb. They also tend to be well-padded for hanging belays, though weight savings are less of a concern.

Ice Climbing, Mountaineering & Alpinism

While you can use most trad climbing harnesses for ice climbing, mountaineering, and alpinism, you’ll also find that some mountaineering-friendly models come with extra features, like ice screw carrying loops.

Moreover, harnesses that are designed for light-and-fast missions will often try to have a low profile and a light weight for those alpine adventures. Most alpine climbing harnesses will actually have minimal padding, as your winter gear and jackets provide more than enough padding while you climb.

How To Choose The Best Climbing Harness

Now that you have an idea of what to look for as you shop for a harness to use during different types of climbing, let’s take a closer look at some of the key considerations you should keep in mind while shopping.

Fit & Comfort

A harness is primarily a safety device, but if you find yourself spending a lot of time belaying or hanging on a route, you’ll certainly want to be sure that you get a comfortable model for your adventures.

While fit and comfort are normally subjective measures, however, with a harness there are a few features you can look for to ensure you get as comfortable of a harness as possible. 

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Traditionally, this means looking for a harness with a relatively wide and well padded waist belt and leg loops, which can help distribute your weight while climbing. It’s worth noting, though, that some modern harnesses use high-end technology, like those from Arc’teryx and Petzl, that allows for increased comfort without the need for extra padding.

Adjustability

In addition to comfort, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the adjustability of climbing harnesses as you shop. While all climbing harnesses will have a fully adjustable waist belt, some have fixed leg loops that can’t be adjusted from one size to another.

Most of the time, you’ll find fixed leg loops on sport climbing harnesses and ultralight models as eschewing these buckles does allow for a modest amount of weight savings. That being said, adjustable leg loops are very helpful if you plan to climb outside or in cold weather as you’ll need that extra wiggle room to accommodate for your various layers of clothing.

Gear Loops & Gear Storage

Gear storage is a primary concern for trad climbers, ice climbers, and mountaineers who need to carry large amounts of gear to protect their routes. Therefore, many harnesses come with multiple gear loops, which can provide easy storage and access to your protection as you climb.

While the industry standard number of gear loops for most harnesses is 4, you’ll find models with anywhere from 2 to 6 gear loops on the market today. More gear loops are certainly helpful, though if you only plan to sport climb or you like to stick to the gym, you may find that the extra weight and bulk from these gear loops is more trouble than it’s worth.

Breathability

Breathability is one of the most overlooked aspects of any harness, though it has a sizable impact on your experience on the rock. 

Unfortunately, harness padding around the waist belt and leg loops is usually at odds with breathability. That’s because foam padding tends to trap in sweat, which can lead to some discomfort on warm days. 

As a result, harnesses that opt for high-end technology to provide comfort tend to perform better from a breathability point of view than those with lots of padding.

The Verdict

At the end of the day, you’re only going to pack one harness for your climbing adventures. Although each of the 5 harnesses in our review excels in their own ways, if we had to choose just 1 to take climbing, we’d opt for the Arc’teryx AR-395a.

The Arc’teryx AR-395a impresses from start to finish, thanks to its overwhelming comfort and versatility. All of this is made possible by the harnesses’ ample gear storage options and Warp Strength Technology, which provides equal load distribution throughout the body without decreasing breathability or increasing weight.

However, what’s important is that you find the harness that’s right for your preferred style of climbing so you can make the most of your time in the vertical world.

Gaby Pilson
I am a mountaineering and climbing guide, as well as a professional outdoor educator. I split my time between working in the polar regions as an expedition guide, working as a climbing instructor, and pursuing my other passions of traveling, writing, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
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