Without a climbing harness, most types of climbing wouldn’t be possible. It’s hands down, the most important piece of safety gear you need to ascend a wall or a mountain.
That’s why it’s super important you choose climbing harnesses wisely, ladies. The wrong harness can limit how long you stay out climbing, and what routes you do in general. Not ideal! Your climbing harness should help you progress and excel, not inhibit you.
In this guide, I’ll review the best climbing harnesses for women out there to help determine which is the best fit for you. Although they’ve all been selected for their versatility and safe, reliable construction, each excels in slightly different ways. Read on as I compare what makes them shine.
My Review Process
As a passionate climber who’s tying in nearly every week, I’ve come to understand what features matter most in a climbing harness.
What makes for the best climbing harness for women? For me, it’s a well-balanced interplay between comfort, safety and performance. You don’t want a climbing harness to simply be there in case of a fall. You also want one that will be comfortable on long days, distribute weight and pressure efficiently, and hold all the protective gear needed to climb.
When rounding up the best harnesses for women, I looked at both specialized harnesses, and versatile models designed to perform in a range of climbing environments. I also compared overall fit and comfort, and how much support the waist band and leg loops have. Weight and the number of gear loops was also key when determining top contenders.
Need one climbing harness to handle it all? The Petzl Luna easily ranks as the best overall climbing harness for women. It not only offers a comfort-focused design tailored to female climbers, but one that easily crosses over from one type of climbing to another. That’s a big win in my book.
The contoured waist, adjustable leg loops, and cushy, breathable padding material all work well to enhance comfort and fit, while ensuring plenty of range of motion. But what about performance on more challenging routes? Five gear loops allow for all the extra gear you may need. And there’s even ice clipper slots for ice climbing tools.
Like many women’s climbing harnesses, the sizing is not the most inclusive for larger sizes. But it does much better than most, which I appreciate. That’s why the Petzl Luna is the best overall climbing harness women can purchase. Especially for those dedicated to progressing across a range of climbing disciplines!
Black Diamond’s Women’s Momentum is a perennial favorite of female climbers hop-scotching between different types of climbing. That also makes it a solid choice for beginners. The price-to-performance is as good as it gets, and it’ll be there for you as you progress with your climbing.
I’m also a big fan of the wider, contoured waist belt sitting higher on the hip bones, designed with women in mind. The “trackFIT” adjustable leg loops ensure a fit that can hang with you on the longest of climbing days, too.
Unfortunately the sizing tops out at a large; so the body inclusivity can be improved. But that shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of female climbers. It reigns as a safe, comfortable, functional harness that’s built to handle it all. And with the price point of an entry-level harness? Black Diamond’s Momentum proves to be a piece of climbing gear worth investing in.
Dreaming of a harness that will perform whether you’re ice climbing, projecting long trad routes or training at the climbing gym? Petzl’s Sitta has you covered!
Although not specific to female climbers, its high-end construction puts versatility, comfort, and performance equally at the forefront. The wireframe waistband and leg loops provide excellent flexibility while keeping it super lightweight. The elastic leg loops keep the fit precise.
I apprecuate the four gear loops and two ice clipper slots for attaching axes, too. That allows the Petzl Sitta to transition seamlessly between different types of climbing on rock and ice. All while providing ample space to organize climbing gear.
Yes, it’s on the pricier end, but its adaptability makes it a harness cut for a range of climbing activities. A worthwhile investment for passionate, all-around female climbers.
Black Diamond’s Women’s Airnet clocks in at just 8 ounces, making it the company’s lightest, high-performance climbing harness by far. That makes it one of the lightest harnesses on the market today.
Originally engineered as a competition harness for the Olympics, the Airnet uses a cutting-edge dyneema material that balances breathability, comfort, and utmost support. It allows for optimal weight distribution during falls, without adding additional weight. That’s pretty key for quick, intensive, and competitive climbing styles.
At such a high price point, though, I’d say to look at other models unless you need to cut harness weight for competition or intensive sport climbs. If a specialized, ultra-light harness is a primary concern, however, Black Diamond’s Airnet is for sure your best bet.
Looking for a simple, ultralight harness for mountaineering or ski touring in glaciated terrain? The Petzl Altitude is the one I see mountain guides donning most often. After trying it for myself, I understand why. It offers unyielding safety without unnecessary fuss or additional weight.
What’s to love? For one, the high-tech Petzl wireframe construction. It allows for a thin yet super pliable waistband and leg loops that don’t get in the way of extra mountaineering layers or backpacks. The minimalist design, with just one tie-in point and two gear loops, further cuts weight and streamlines functionality.
Note that the Petzl Altitude is pretty specialized, though, and not cut for regular rock climbing. Or, for anything more than gentle falls on snow. For women venturing out on low-impact alpine adventures, glacial crossings or mountaineering objectives, however, it’s a fantastic choice.
Petzl’s 8003 Full Body Harness is for you if you want something adaptable to various body shapes. In particular, it’s an excellent choice for pregnant women or for female climbers that need to direct pressure away from their midsection while climbing.
So what makes it a great full body harness? The Petzl 8003 has fully adjustable shoulder straps and adjustable leg loops for getting as precise a fit as possible. And most importantly, weight is distributed evenly amongst all of them. That means no weird pressure points. Two independent tie-in points keep things safe, too.
Although there is no padding, it’s still a surprisingly comfortable harness. I’m not sure I would embark on a long multi-pitch lead climb with it as it doesn’t have extra gear loops. But for women that want to keep climbing with certain modifications, Petzl’s 8003 Full Body delivers.
If you’re an advanced female climber chasing challenges with longer trad routes or big walls, Black Diamond’s Big Gun is for you.
This sturdy, tried-and-true unisex climbing harness has all the bells and whistles to keep you safe and supported on multi-pitch climbs, or, when aid climbing. A whopping seven gear loops provides all the space for gear without the clutter, double racks and all.
With a cushy, thermoformed foam waistbelt that’s extra wide and extra padded, it keeps comfort at the forefront for extended periods of time, too. Yes, that adds extra weight. But if you’re overnighting with your harness, on a long hanging belay, or bolting new sport climbing routes, you need that extra support. The Big Gun has the tech and range of motion you need to take your climbing to the next level.
C.A.M.P.’s Energy Nova Harness is the most budget-friendly climbing harness for women out there, period. Available at an unbeatable price point, it surprisingly doesn’t skimp on functionality and comfort.
I especially love that the wide, conical waistband is designed with female climbers in mind. I also like how the thermoformed padding on the waist and legs molds to individual body types. Adjustable leg loops further ensure a personalized fit. That means comfort you can count on, ladies; whether you’re at the gym or the local crag.
The Energy Nova also feels very lightweight, while still offering a haul loop and four gear loops for additional gear on trad climbs. Despite all the perks, I feel it doesn’t offer quite enough padding for more challenging, full-day routes. Overall, though, a versatile, affordable, functional entry harness.
Women's Climbing Harness Buying Guide
The primary role of any climbing harness is to provide uncompromised safety when attached to a rope. With that said, there are several other factors to consider when determining which is the best harness for you. Here’s what to focus on when comparing models.
Different types of climbing prioritize different design features on a harness, like weight and the number of loops. Therefore, it helps to know which type of climbing you plan to focus on.
Sticking strictly to indoor gym climbing or single pitch sport routes?Choose a cheaper harness with a simple design. . Diving into ice climbing or multi pitch routes on big walls? Choose something more versatile, with at least four gear loops, a back haul loop, and ideally, extra padding for comfort on longer climbs.
Climbing harnesses are designed with several different types of loops. Below, I’ll explain why they matter and what to look for. Belay Loop
A belay loop securely attaches a harness’ leg loops to the waist belt tie-in loop. Its primary purpose is to append protective gear when belaying or rappelling.
An alpine climbing harness or gym harness will often have a thinner belay loop to cut weight. A trad climbing harness intended for long climbing objectives may have two belay loops for extra safety gear.
Gear loops are attached to a harness’ waist belt. They’re a critical component of a climbing harness, because they hold protective gear, like camming devices, carabiners, quick-draws, nuts, etc.
Simpler harnesses will have just two durable gear loops, while harnesses meant for more gear-intensive routes can have four or five. Unless you’re buying a lighter-weight harness for gym climbing or for alpine / mountaineering objectives, I suggest playing it safe with extra gear loops.
A haul loop sits at the center back of a harness’ waistbelt. It tends to be constructed with more strength than gear loops, since it’s meant to haul extra rope or a tag line on longer routes. It is not weight-bearing or a safe tie-in point, but it can be used to clip descent or climbing shoes, chalk bags, or other small equipment.
Unless you’re often on big walls or doing multi-pitch climbs, having a rear haul loop isn’t essential.
Leg loops on a climbing harness are situated around a woman's upper thighs. Usually a harness will have adjustable leg loops with standard buckles, but some lighter-weight models have elastic leg loops. They are usually padded, and help distribute weight between the pelvis and the legs in case of a fall.
Fit & Sizing
When choosing a women’s climbing harness, comfort is key. So you’ll want to ensure the fit and sizing is right for your body type. Take these pointers into account when trying on your harness.
- The waistbelt will always have an adjustable size. When determining fit, adjust it so that it sits above your hip bones, near your belly button. Make sure it still has plenty of room to expand or lessen in diameter, and is not maxed out in either direction.
- The leg loops will usually have a buckle adjustable size or elastic straps. When determining leg loop size, each should sit at your upper thighs, close to your groin. Like with the waistbelt, make sure there is room to expand or shrink. You want them to allow range of motion, but not so tight that they pinch.
If you’re torn between sizing up or sizing down I recommend sizing up. Especially if you plan to do any cold weather climbing or ice climbing, you’ll need to compensate for bulky layers.
Simple but safe entry-level climbing harnesses will run around $50-70. The more specialized a climbing harness becomesthe more costly. Climbing harnesses that are engineered specifically for competition or big wall climbingcan run upwards of $200.
I’m a firm believer that the best climbing harness for women is the most versatile one. That’s why our Best Overall pick, the Petzl Luna, and our Best Beginner Harness, Black Diamond’s Momentum, are two excellent choices for female climbers looking to progress with various types of climbing.
If you’re a more advanced female climber dreaming of big walls, on the other hand, Black Diamond’s Big Gun harness is built for all-day action and won’t disappoint. If low-impact mountaineering is more your speed, I suggest opting for simplicity with the Petzl Altitude.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.