When you arrive at a sporting goods store looking for a climbing harness, there are a few things you should understand before you decide to buy.
What does UIAA stand for?
The abbreviation (UIAA) comes from its French name Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme, which stands for International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation. The international federation was founded to be in charge of researching and finding solutions to all problems related to climbing and mountaineering.
What is a UIAA Certified Harness?
It is imperative, when purchasing your climbing harness, that it has a certified UIAA Safety Label attached.
What kind of climbing harness should I get?
First and foremost, the type of harness you need will need to meet the requirements of the type of climbing you will be doing. First lets go over some general basics, then we will break down to more specifics.
There are two types of comfort; a harness that is comfortable while standing and another that is comfortable while hanging. If you are climbing mostly in a single pitch environment, then you should go for the harness that fits more comfortably while standing. If you are climbing mostly multi-pitch routes in which your body will be hanging, then is best to get a harness that serves that purpose. Now, each harness is designed to be comfortable for its purpose, so each sacrifices the alternative; a harness comfortable while standing may be uncomfortable while hanging and vise versa.
Finding the right size and best fit to your body can be a challenge. No matter how much or little padding you see on a harness, it will not be comfortable if it does not fit you well. Harnesses are designed and built by different distributors (brands), therefore made for different body types. Go to a local gear shop and try several brands on, this is not something you can eyeball on the internet and shop for.
Harnesses do have a wear indicator, threads or strips of nylon that are inside of the external layer of a harness. When this layer wears out, it shows the indicator thread or strip as a warning that the harness needs to be retired. Usually the lower tie-in point (attached to the leg loops) tens to wears out first, since it is the one that gets the most friction while walking. Regardless of if your harness is not showing these warnings, you should read the manufacturer’s recommendation on when the harness should be replaced; in other words, just because you climb three times a year and your harness is looking pretty good, does not mean it will be safe to use after 20 years. Read the manufacture details and keep track of when you first purchased your equipment, to give you a better idea of how long you’ve owned it and if needs to be retired.
How can I check if my harness is UIAA Certified?
Use the following link to verify that your equipment is certified by the UIAA.
Have safety concerns over recalls?
Use the following link to verify what recalls are currently in place. You can search equipment by brand, year, name or part number.