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Big wall harness recommendation?
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Site Landlord
Dec 5, 2009
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me?...
So I tried the Yates BW harness and didn't like the webbing buckle. And I tried the Yates Shield harness and - call me a weakling - but it took me forever to thread and unthread the stupid buckles they were so darn tight. And to tighten it snugly I had to take a leather man to the webbing it was such a tight fit through the buckle.

Anyone have a recommendation for other big wall harnesses they like that doesn't require as much effort as the ones above?
Andy Laakmann
From Bend, OR
Joined Jan 1, 2001
2,412 points
Dec 5, 2009
Andy, I wouldn't worry about how much effort it takes to put the sucker on/off, so long as it's comfortable. Keep in mind that you are going to be wearing it for days. One friend of mine doesn't even use the buckles---he ties his harness on himself with webbing, then cuts the webbing off at the end of the climb. More important is how well it fits, and how comfortable it is. kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Joined Oct 5, 2001
1,373 points
Dec 6, 2009
me on my redpoint
BD Big Gun if you are planning on any free climbing. All the other big wall harnesses are way to bulky. If you are going to be strickly aid climbing than the more padding the better and the Yates Shield or Metolius Waldo. I would go with the Waldo if you want more harness because of the two belay loops. I use a BD Big Gun and have only good things to say about it. I had a Shield before and didn't care for it much. The Waldo looks nice but I havn't used it. Dave Cummings
From Grand Junction, CO
Joined Jul 3, 2007
213 points
Dec 6, 2009

i enjoy this harness. i enjoyed a 5 hr hanging belay in it. no bruises.
k. riemondy
From Boulder, Co
Joined Oct 3, 2006
92 points
Dec 6, 2009
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Ko...
Andy, your description of waging battle with the Yates Shield dug up old memories of when I was in the same boat with the same harness. I remember first trying it on at the store with this serious "You've-got-to-be-kidding-me" expression on my face while trying to get that webbing to thread smoothly. But once on, the harness just fit so damn well that I knew it was the one. I re-melted the ends of the webbing to make that melted terminus more tapered (I don't mean reshaping the webbing itself, but instead just the melted nylon on the every end - it seems when they originally cut it they used a luke warm hot-knife, because the melted end was fat and spread out.... so I just heated that melted end and flattened it better). Made the initial thread into the buckle much easier, although the stiffness of the webbing still made it a pain to cinch tight. But after a couple days climbing, putting the harness off and on, everything became more supple and soon buckling up was simple as can be.

That's my experience with the Shield, for what it's worth. I love the fit and function of that harness above all others I've tried. I used to have the Yates Big Wall before the Shield and I really didn't like how it performed under heavy loads - the lack of a single continuous piece of padding caused the waist webbing to crease/fold a bit at hip bone area (just maybe a 1/3 inch) while under heavy load resulting in heinous battle wounds by top-out day. The Shield's continuous and firmer padding doesn't have that issue at all.

I actually use my Shield harness for 50-75% of my regular trad climbing days. I have a bum back, so for me it's worth the extra weight to have the added support for hanging belays here in Eldo. The harness free climbs great.

As for the other makes out there, I've heard good feedback from friends who have the Big Gun and friends who have the Misty Mountain. As Bobby H mentioned above, what's most important is how well it fits. In addition to the hanging test at the store and seeing how well it protects your kidneys, clip a couple of those 5 lb bean-bags they use for backpack testing onto the gear loops and just stand around for some time. Put some serious weight on that harness to mimic the tonnage of gear big walls demand and see how it pulls down at your hips. Lastly, clip one of the store's aiders to the belay loop and while standing on the ground, find just the right step such that when you put one foot in it and stand straight it mimics the downward pull on the front of your harness as felt when going for a top step while aiding. Give it some time on this test, it's an eye-opener for sure. Those are my recommendations for finding the winner harness for your body type.

Good luck on the search.
Erik W
From Boulder, CO
Joined Mar 8, 2007
303 points
Dec 6, 2009
self portrait
I think Misty makes the best harness out there. I have used the Cadillac for years and swear by it. It is padded enough to spend hours hanging either on aid or when working a sport route. Tom R
From Denver, CO
Joined Sep 14, 2008
157 points
Dec 6, 2009
Vervet Monkeys know which site is best.
I really wanted to like the BD Big Gun when it first came out, but when I tried it on I found that the right size waist for me had leg loops that were way too small, I had only 2 inches of tail left after buckling them. Too bad, because it seemed like a really comfy harness.

I went with the Yates Shield. Amazing harness for aid climbing, but I'm still not sure If I could free climb very well in mine (kudos to Erik W)
From Cape Ann
Joined Apr 22, 2007
510 points
Dec 6, 2009
Shucka Bra.
Yates shield. Use it a bit and the webbing issue gets better, and it's worth the struggle cause its such a great wallin' rig. Gear loops are great, a nice hammer holster and padding and support that makes a hanging belay almost comfortable. I've also done a few walls in the misty, and it worked but my yates is just a whole other level. If you absolutly can't deal with the buckles then try the misty, which free climbs much better. Dustin B
From Steamboat
Joined Jan 29, 2006
1,516 points
Dec 6, 2009
yates shield I use it for everything but ice

the misty is also a great harness

After buying that pos black diamond blizzard harness I will never buy another harness from black garbage
From the farside
Joined Jun 18, 2009
32 points
Dec 6, 2009
Artist Tears P3
The metolius Waldo with the leg loop modification (so you can take them off) sounds like a nice option. Metolius will do the mod. Fit is still the main thing.

Also get a fish Rumpsak for long hanging belays to relieve stress on the hips and legs.

RUMPSAK: After receiving tons of calls from people looking for a butt bag, we decided to start making them again. A three point design gives relative comfort to the situation, Oxford cloth main body, and a "self stuffing" feature makes for a nice small package. Assorted colors. $23.00 ea.
John McNamee
From Littleton, CO
Joined Jul 29, 2002
1,918 points
Dec 6, 2009
Nearing the end of Thank God Ledge.
I spent six days on Mescalito in a sport climbing harness with no padding on the legs or hip belt. My sides were bloody by the end of the wall! Anything with some padding should suffice. Jeff G.
From Fort Collins
Joined Feb 26, 2006
1,055 points
Dec 7, 2009
mug shot

Check out the Petzl Calidris.

good ventilation

wide support

low profile, very naaiiiice

We dropped our butt-seat on pitch 3 of Mescalito in push style and My nads survived in said Calidris.

Happy walling
Nate Brown
From Wilson, Wy
Joined Apr 27, 2008
782 points
Mar 1, 2010
rapping off notch peak summit.
anybody use the wild country synchro, similar in stats to the bd gun.
From Salt Lake
Joined Jun 15, 2009
53 points
Mar 1, 2010
I use a Metolius Waldo - most comfortable harness ever for hanging in for long periods. Paul Gagner
Joined Oct 9, 2007
24 points
Mar 3, 2010
On the North America Wall in 1977.
I have a Metolius Waldo that is pretty dang comfy. I like the double belay loops also. Mark Hudon
Joined Jul 27, 2009
281 points

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