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Test Fit Your Harness Finding a harness that fits you well is essential. If harness is too tight it will restrict your movement. If your climbing harness is too loose, it will slip, chafe and, in an inverted fall, maybe even let go of you. Just like clothing, different harness brands fit different body shapes better than others. Be sure to find one that works well for you.
Whenever you test-fit a harness, make sure you're wearing kinds of clothes you're likely to be climbing in. If you plan on carrying a pack with you as you climb, have it handy as well so you can make sure it doesn't cause any discomfort when worn in conjunction with harness.
The Waistbelt -- Your harness waistbelt should be snug, but not uncomfortably so. It should ride just above your hipbones, but it shouot interfere with your breathing. You should not be able to pull harness down over your hips, no matter how hard you try. Children and narrow-hipped adults -- if you can't get a harness to stay above your hip bones, use a full-body harness until your body shape works with a waistbelt-style harness. Be sure that there is at least 3 inches of webbing extending out of waistbelt buckle once it has been properly secured and doubled back.
Leg Loops -- Your harness leg loops should also be snug, but not uncomfortable. If they are an adjustable design, their webbing straps should be long enough for you to double them back through their buckles with at least 2 inches left over.
Be especially careful when fitting a seat harness. If you choose one that's too small, it will squeeze your hips and legs, reducing mobility. If you choose one that's too large, harness may slide up onto your lower ribs, compressing your diaphragm and leaving you gasping for air. You should have between 1 and 3 inches of clearance between tie-in loops at your waist.
Buckling up and tying-in
Most harnesses use full-strength buckles to join waistbelt. Read manufacturer's instructions carefully and learn how to use your harness and buckle correctly. If your harness and buckle are not secured properly, you risk injury and possibly even death.
Most harness buckles must be buckled a specific way to be secure. Be sure you follow recommended procedure every time. Always double back all webbing straps through your harness buckles. Under impact force of a fall, webbing straps that are not doubled-back can pull through buckles, causing you to fall out of harness altogether.
Remember that your harness is only as reliable as knot you use to tie yourself into it. Make sure you know how to tie into your harness correctly. Read, understand and follow manufacturer's instructions that come with harness. Be careful -- different styles have different tie-in procedures. It is your responsibility to know how to use your harness correctly, along with all of your other climbing gear.
Protect your harness from direct sunlight, heat and harsh chemicals like bleach. Wash your harness in cool water with mild, non-detergent soap. Always check your harness before you climb for frayed stitching, cuts or other forms of damage.
Remember that your harness will not last forever. If you climb every weekend, your harness should last a couple of years. The harder you climb and more often you fall, weaker your harness will become. Replace your harness whenever it shows signs of wear or damage.
President of OuterSports
Entrepreneur and Outdoor Enthusiast