Rappelling Harness vs. Climbing Harness

Rappelling Harness vs. Climbing Harness

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Before we can determine if there is a difference between rappelling harnesses and climbing harnesses we need to know what rappelling and what rock climbing is. They are two different sports, yet the one cannot be done successfully without knowing how to do the other. Both require skill, determination and certain types of safety equipment, which we're going to educate you on here at the climbing expert.

Rock climbing is demanding and challenging sport both mentally and physically; it will push you to your limits challenging your endurance, mental control, strength, balance, and agility. It can also be extremely dangerous if done irresponsibly and without the proper equipment.

As the name suggests rock climbing requires a climber to climb up or across and occasionally down a natural rock formation. Nowadays, rock climbing can be practiced on artificial rock climbing walls.

There are approximately 11 different types of rock climbing, all using different techniques, styles and locations, with some even taking place indoors, the one thing most of them have in common is that they require climbing harnesses.

In fact, at least 9 of the 11 types of rock climbing use climbing harnesses. There is other equipment involved as well but the most important piece of equipment is the harness.

Rock climbing

Rappelling is when a rope is used to descend a rock face in a controlled manner. Some refer to rappelling as abseiling. Rappelling is very popular as a sport but is also used in emergency situations by fire and rescue personnel.

In rappelling, you need to have other skills to be successful and safe. Knots are an important part of rappelling, considering you are relying on a rope to get you down the mountain or building facade.

Rappelling is more dangerous than rock climbing and most fatalities are from rappelers falling off the end of the rope due to incorrect or secure knots. Rappelling also makes use of a climbing harness. Many rock climbers use rappelling as a way to get down once they have climbed to the top of the rock face.

Both rappelling and rock climbing require that the participant use a safe and secure climbing harness. There are no differences in rappelling harnesses and climbing harnesses, and the same harness can be used for both sports. The important thing is to find the best climbing harness for you.

Here are few key features to look for when shopping for a climbing harness.

What is the harness made of?

A climbing harness needs to be made from strong and durable material. Most manufacturers prefer to use nylon because of its strength; it also has other advantages such as it does not absorb water and it does not get damaged when it gets wet.

Nylon, on the other hand, is more flexible but not as strong as polyester, nylon also absorbs water which causes it to weaken over time and prone to mold. A polyester climbing harness would be the best option.

best to buy a new climbing harness

What size do I need?

For best support, the waist belt of the climbing harness should fit over your iliac crest and it should be a snug fit so that it can’t be pulled down. If you need to set the buckle to its max in order to fit you rather than take a bigger size, a buckle should be around the middle of its range for best fit and ultimate safety.

Climbing harnesses come in different sizes ranging from XS to XL; some are adjustable and one size fits all. If you are easily able to place your flat hand between your leg and the leg loop of your climbing harness, then it is a perfect fit. Leg loops should be comfortable and not too tight

The condition of the harness

It is best to buy a new climbing harness that is in mint condition as a second-hand harness may be damaged which will compromise your safety.

Even if a used harness looks in great condition, there may be a fray or weakness that is not visible. Always buy new harnesses and avoid cheap second-hand climbing harnesses. The few dollars you will save will not be worth it.

Whether you have chosen to take up rock climbing or rappelling you need to find the best climbing harness that will suit your needs and ensure your safety and comfort.

As the harness is the most important piece of equipment you will need, pay a few extra dollars and get a new harness. Once you have purchased your harness you can then use the remainder of your budget to purchase the other equipment.

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