There are quite a few different styles of climbing harness’s to choose from. They fall into a few different categories:
- Outdoor centre, group harness’s. Usually highly adjustable, no padding and without gear loops. Uncomfortable to hang in.
- Indoor climbing wall harness’s. Some more padding, not too many gear loops.
- Rock climbing harness’s. Padding on waist belt and leg loops. Four or more gear loops. Not as adjustable size wise.
- 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.
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.