Among the obligatory material to cover the via ferratas there is, together with Set da Ferrata and helmet, the harness. The choice of harness is important both for our safety and comfort during progression. We have prepared a simple guide on some useful factors to consider before buying a harness. Here is our guide:
Let's start with some general information: the harness is a personal protection device, it is ours. It is necessary to be aware that from his integrityto our safety ensues. We must carefully evaluate its condition after significant falls and not use it beyond the duration specified in the purchase. The harness should not come into contact with substances that could affect its characteristics (eg oils, acids, etc.), we should not leave it in the sun or in very humid environments that could weaken its seams.
Harnesses are subjected to aapproval and the label of this approval is generally inserted in the belt. The most common brands of material for mountain sports homologate all harnesses and, taking into account the objective conditions of that harness, we can be serene about how it was designed. If we rent a harness (eg: on vacation), it is good practice to check that it is approved for UUIIA standards.
We are unbalanced: thecomplete harness provides greater safety on via ferrata. We will explain the reason in more detail and why you can also use the low harness. Compared to sport climbing, the fall line in via ferrata tends to follow the metal cable, not just the force of gravity. This is sometimes placed diagonally. Without going too far into the innumerable cases, the complete harness helps to avoid, in the case of rollovers, slips of the harness that could be potentially fatal. To accentuate the chances of tipping over via ferrata, both affect the presence of backpacks that shift the center of gravity of our body is the weight of the'hiker. On the weight it is important to emphasize that for very light or very heavy people, the probability of overturning in the event of a fall increases as well as the possibility that the harness may slip off.
Given these premises, the complete harness is a choice that certainly privileges safety. It must be said that there are no longer many complete harnesses available on the market. Each manufacturer maintains one or two models, among which we point out the Petzl 8003 or theOcun Bodyguard. The Salewa Civetta II model was a widely used model but was recalled by Salewa a few years ago and was not replaced.
However, it is undeniable that the complete harness restricts movements more and for this reason, low harnesses are often preferred. It is also possible to buy a low harness to add one to bib with a good compromise between safety and comfort. This harness is adjustable and connects to the harness via a locking carabiner or rather with a cord with an eight knot (the cord has the advantage that in the event of a fall possible compression of the ferrule on the ribs is avoided). Among the bibs available on the market, we report the CT Torse and Kong Secure Eight.
A solution that is certainly less convenient but that can be adopted to prevent the harness from slipping in the event of a rollover is to have a 120 cm dyneema webbing (like the CT Looper 120 mm) and create an eight where we will insert the arms and around the shoulders. We will connect this webbing to our harness with a locking carabiner. In the event of overturning, the harness will not slip off because the webbing wraps around our shoulders. This situation is not approved but can increase safety by preventing the harness from slipping in the event of a fall.
A separate discussion, which we then deepen below, should be done for i children. For children we strongly recommend having a complete harness or low harness with bib.
Notwithstanding the fact that the complete harness is the solution of greater safety, we feel we can add that the low harness is generally sufficient for people in “normal” weight form, neither too thin nor too heavy. Let's deepen below the differences between available low harnesses.
Harnesses are generally divided into 3 types:
If we enter a store and ask for help in choosing a harness, before tackling the fateful price theme, we will reduce our choice based on certain factors. Who will guide us in the choice will have made an idea of our size - given the weight and height. There are harnesses designed specifically for female morphology, therefore women's harnesses (eg the CT Anthea or the Petzl Selena), as well as harnesses specifically designed for children (eg the CT Ascent or the Black Diamond Momentum). So a first differentiation is given by our body.
A second feature that distinguishes harnesses is if i leg straps are adjustable or elastic. The first ones have an adjustable webbing for each thigh, while the second ones have an elastic band that makes them stick to our leg. The harnesses with adjustable leg loops are generally more expensive but give a better feeling of adherence to the leg and comfort. In the past, elastic leg loops were also less comfortable. In this context, considerable progress has been made recently and the feeling is more pleasant than in the past.
A significant difference is among the harnesses they have single or double buckle around our life. Sports harnesses are often characterized by a single buckle while trad and mountaineering harnesses have a double buckle. The double buckle increases the comfort and versatility of the harness, managing to better follow the profile of the body, even when we have voluminous clothes, as happens when we are climbing via ferratas at high altitude. On the other hand, sports harnesses are often used at lower altitudes with comfortable, light clothing and grip is performed with a single buckle. The single buckle sometimes has the disadvantage of not putting the ring in the center of our body.
Thecentral ring varies in size between the various harnesses. For via ferrata it can be convenient to have a rather large ring, sometimes having to connect both the Ferrata Set and a lanyard or chain of quickdraws for simulate a stop on the way up.
Although not used as in other disciplines (eg trad or artificial climbing), even on via ferrata we use material carrier rings. The number of material carrier rings varies from harness to harness. The harnesses currently produced generally have at least 4 rings and can have up to 8. To travel via ferrata 4 material loops are sufficient. At the back of the harness there is often a small loop where typically, if you climb, a quick link is stored (hoping not to use it ...).
The various differences indicated above result in one compensation between weight and comfortto. It is not a fixed rule, but heavier harnesses tend to be more comfortable due to the greater padding, the presence of buckles, etc. Conversely, sports harnesses tend to make lightness their fulcrum, sometimes at the expense of greater comfort. On the other hand they are designed to be worn a few minutes during a shot and then removed or enlarged.
Premise: there is no right harness for everyone, it depends on what use is made of it and on your body.
If you climb and do short via ferratas you could opt for a sport climbing harness. A simple and light model like the CT On Sight or the Camp Air CR could do for us for most of the exits guaranteeing a good mix of lightness, comfort and price.
It is worth emphasizing that via ferrata sometimes requires you to wear the harness for several hours. For those who are passionate about and think about making long via ferratas we recommend opting for a slightly more padded model, perhaps heavier but with good comfort over time, as are generally harnesses trad or mountaineering. Opting for average prices, among the models available on the market the CT Ascent, the CAMP Jasper or the Petzl Corax they are good options with ample adjustment possibilities, a good number of material carriers, well-padded and versatile enough to be also used in climbing or indoor.
Each harness manufacturer sells specific models for children. The risk of tipping over for children is greater due to the different weight distribution they have between the upper and lower body parts compared to adults. For this reason, in via ferrata as in climbing if they climb from first, the complete harness or the harness with the harness are mandatory for child safety.
Among the models of complete harnesses for children we mention the CT Jungle or the CAMP Child. For low harnesses we signal CT Ascent or the Black Diamond Momentum with the option to add a bib between the various available, such as the CAMP Harness or Ederrid Kermit. Remember that the bib must be connected with a closed-ring carabiner, such as a CAMP Oval.