Climbing: How to Put On a Harness

Bailey McCaffrey

Using a climbing harness for the first time can feel intimidating for a variety of reasons. With multiple loops, buckles and straps, putting one on can feel like a puzzle. Even the most experienced climbers can get tripped up from time to time.

Fortunately, taking this process step by step can transform this seemingly difficult task into something as simple as putting on a pair of pants. Learning the ins and out of this device will increase your confidence when it comes to trusting a harness and is a great place to start when beginning your climbing experience.

Although many harnesses are universal in style and shape, each one has its own design, so it is important to look at your personal devices instruction manual for specifics this how-to article is specific to the harnesses used at CSU Campus Recreation.

Step 1:

Loosen all the buckles: Find the waist loop and each leg loop, loosening the three buckles but do not take the straps fully out of its metal or clasp.

Step 2:

Remove the twists: A climbing harness consists of three loops, one for the waist, and a loop for each leg. Locate the orange webbing above where the harness says Black Diamond. This will go just above you belly button and the loop it is attached to is the waist loop. Find each of these by removing twist until you see a shape similar to this one (image below)

Step 3:

Step into the leg loops: Step through the waist loop and put one leg in each of the leg loops. The buckles on the harness should be in front of you. After stepping through, pull the harness up, as if you were putting on a pair of pants.

Step 4:
Tighten the buckles: Tighten each buckle begging with the waist strap by pulling the tail end of the strap. The harness should fit just below the height of your belly button. After the waist loop is tight, tighten the harness to fit each leg. You will know each of these loops are tight enough if you put two fingers in between the harness and you body, and are unable to twist the sideways.  

Step 5:

Double check for security: Make sure each piece of the harness if untwisted and pulled taught to your body. Make sure each buckle is double backed and secure. Check to make sure there is at least two inches of slack in the leg and waist straps. Check your attitude to make sure you are up for a good time of climbing safety! If not, take the harness off and start from step one.








You’re ready to climb!

Well, after you ask an expert belayer to give you a catch and get tied into the top rope. Remember, CSU Campus Recreation requires you to be belay certified by a Climbing Wall employee to belay someone for top rope and lead climbing. The Campus Recreation Climbing  Wall is the perfect place to begin your climbing journey. Employees want to, “show you the ropes,” and make sure you are safe and ready to climb, just don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Watch out for more how to articles to follow, including how to boulder, how to tie a figure 8 knot, and other climbing basics.

Contact if you have how to article suggestions about  any area of CSU Campus Recreation.