There are quite a few different styles of climbing harness’s to choose from. They fall into a few different categories:

  1. Outdoor centre, group harness’s. Usually highly adjustable, no padding and without gear loops. Uncomfortable to hang in.
  2. Indoor climbing wall harness’s. Some more padding, not too many gear loops.
  3. Rock climbing harness’s. Padding on waist belt and leg loops. Four or more gear loops. Not as adjustable size wise.
  4. Alpine Mountaineering harness. Like the rock climbing harness’s, but with less padding and therefore lighter. Not as comfortable to hang in. Adjustable leg loops.

If you want one harness to do everything, then buy a padded rock climbing harness with a minimum of four gear loops. Some have adjustable leg loops, others don’t. It’s personal preference, a matter of fit. I tend to go with fixed leg loops apart from my alpine harness (see photos below)

If you buy a harness in a good outdoor shop then they should have a rope so that you can hang in the harness to see exactly how uncomfortable it is! They will also make sure the harness waist belt is a proper fit, and has enough “tail” through the buckle to be safe.

Traditional and self-locking buckles.

Traditional and self-locking buckles.

The harness should be snug enough that you can climb in a thin t-shirt, but have enough adjustability so that you can wear a few more layers in the winter.

In general, a lightweight harness will be good to climb in, but a little more uncomfortable to abseil or hang in.

Similar  thickness, very different widths. Arcteryx rock climbing harness, Blueice alpine harness.

Similar thickness, very different widths. Arcteryx rock climbing harness, Blueice alpine harness.

Padded, and non padded waist belts. Padding adds weight, so if your going light in the mountains and wearing plenty of clothes, you probably don't need it.

Padded, and non padded waist belts. Padding adds weight, so if your going light in the mountains and wearing plenty of clothes, you probably don’t need it.

Wildcountry Vision Harness - standard trad climbing, padded harness with plenty of gear loops.

Wildcountry Vision Harness – standard trad climbing, padded harness with plenty of gear loops.

Arcteryx summer rock climbing harness. Four big gear loops, fixed leg loops.

Arcteryx summer rock climbing harness. Four big gear loops, fixed leg loops.

Arcteryx mixed climbing harness. Lightweight, two big gear loops.

Arcteryx mixed climbing harness. Lightweight, two big gear loops.

Very lightweight alpine harness from Chamonix brand "BlueIce", no padding, super light.

Very lightweight alpine harness from Chamonix brand “BlueIce”, no padding, super light.

DMM's winter/alpine harness, the Couloir. No padding, loads of gear loops, fairly adjustable.

DMM’s winter/alpine harness, the Couloir. No padding, loads of gear loops, fairly adjustable.

Wildcountry "Gym" harness. Very adjustable, two gear loops, some padding.

Wildcountry “Gym” harness. Very adjustable, two gear loops, some padding.