Aspiring Enterprises


Anchoring safely
Fitting a harness
Mountaineering and harnesses

Attachment methods

All Aspiring harnesses, with the exception of the Height Safety harnesses and the Speleo caving harness, use one of two different styles of attachment point. On our Stratos climbing harnesses we use the Located Belay Loop; on our other harnesses, the Direct Attachment Point. These differ in the methods of connecting into them.

Located belay loops

A unique design for our top climbing harnesses, designed to give a naturally balanced hanging position. Our stitched-through belay loop creates a higher centre of balance and therefore a more stable hanging position. Unlike other belay loops, our located belay loop is designed to tie directly into. The ultimate strength of the belay loop is over 35 kN - nearly double that of many other belay loops - and it is reinforced to ensure maximum life.located belay loop

Most climbing harnesses use a plain open loop to attach leg loops to the waist belt. This belay loop is for karabiner attachment while belaying, abseiling or connecting to anchors. When tying into a rope, the rope must be tied around both the leg loop and waist belt, following the belay loop. As a result these harnesses have an effectively lower centre of balance. This may be dangerous for some people because they may tend to tip backwards in a fall, which is likely to cause head injuries.

An option to tying in solely to the top of the belay loop is to include the waist strap also (see drawing). This will alter the harness geometry but may suit some people better.

Do not use the traditional tie in method unless you are sure that the resultant hanging position will not cause tipping back into a head-first fall.

Direct attachment point

A single attachment point that you can tie or clip everything tie-in

The advantages of this concept are its simplicity and the benefit of having all attachments horizontally arranged. This attachment is used on many of our harnesses, particularly those design for group activities and outdoor education. Each product uses a different variation of the direct attachment point, but the principle remains the same.

Any attachment using either a rope or karabiner is made directly to the front of the harness (making sure to exclude the retaining loop which prevents the rope or karabiner moving sideways in the case of the Classic harness).

Anchoring safely

Many climbers are unaware of the requirements for safe anchoring. In the first place, the anchors must obviously be secure (note that we are using the term “belay” only in the narrow and more correct sense of controlling the rope).

Secondly, the method of connecting the anchors to each other must be sound (this is a complex topic which cannot be covered here), and thirdly the connection from the anchors to the harness must be safe. Here many people make the mistake of attaching to the rear of the harness. This is fundamentally incorrect, even if the harness has a strong enough attachment point available, because it inserts the belayer's body between the anchor and the belay (the point where the load is being applied to the belayer). The anchor connection must always be to the attachment area at the front of the harness.

Note: When tying on to a rope it is always preferable to tie the rope directly to the harness, rather than use an intermediate karabiner, as the rope can conceivably detach from the karabiner. Also, the gate can catch on the harness and may be side-loaded by the rope.

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Fitting a climbing harness

Firstly, make sure the harness is correctly assembled and not tangled. Buckles should be loosely fastened to make the harness easier to handle. Then step through the waist belt and into the leg loops, pulling the harness up holding both the waist belt and the leg loops on each side. Pull the waist belt over the hips.

To tighten the waist strap, form a loop of webbing with one finger against the buckle and pull the strap through the buckle. When it is fully tightened, thread the end of the strap back through the buckle to lock it off. The waist belt should be tight to ensure a snug fit.

Warning - there must be at least 10cm of webbing left as a tail after the strap is re-threaded.

When fitted correctly the harness should feel snug at the waist and leg loops, but not overly tight. All rethreaded straps should have a tail of no less than 10cm of webbing after the buckle is tightened. If the tail is shorter than this the size is too small and a larger size should be tried. On the other hand if the harness will not adjust tighter, yet still feels loose, try a smaller size.

Warning - unless the strap is rethreaded it may slip in use and during a fall.

Fitting is a personal matter, and the comfort of the harness depends on the fit as much as other aspects, such as whether the harness is padded or not.

Often one part of the harness - the leg loops or waist belt - will fit perfectly but the other is too loose or too tight. We're all different, so this is not surprising.

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Harnesses and mountaineering

We have put particular emphasis in our harness designs to give them high attachment points (see Attachment methods), ever since the very first Classic harness was made over 20 years ago. This prevents a climber from inverting in a fall, or in the event of a head-first fall, generally rights the falling person. Thus the chance of head injury is greatly reduced. In the case of mountaineering a pack is being carried and the climber is much more top-heavy. A glacier roping-up technique, using coils of rope tied off around the chest, avoids this problem in crevasse falls, but there is a significant risk of head injury for a falling alpinist in other situations.

Many European climbers use a full harness to prevent this, but New Zealand climbers consider these impractical and cumbersome. One option is use an Aspiring chest harness linked to the sit harness with a karabiner. Another solution is to use two slings - a standard length one doubled to connect to the harness, and a medium length one to fashion a figure-8 sling around the chest. After making the first loop over one shoulder the chest sling is passed through the two loops of the harness sling, and then the second loop is twisted before passing around the chest and opposite shoulder.

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