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Ice climbing is one of the most fun and intense ways to enjoy winter.
When you’re out on the ice, you can get a good workout and see some of the most beautiful views in the world while the rest of society stays warm inside watching TV.
Ice climbing is rugged, challenging, and it requires the best quality of gear to make sure that you stay safe.
An ice climbing harness is arguably the most critical piece of ice climbing gear.
You have to wear it the entire time that you are climbing, and it protects you from falling to the ground.
In this article, let’s go over the basics of ice climbing gear. Then we’ll discuss what you need to know about choosing the best harness for ice climbing and show you a couple of the best options for harnesses.
What to know about ice climbing gear
It’s getting colder outside, which means that ice climbing is coming!
You’re going to want to be sure that your ice climbing gear is in tip-top shape for this year’s season.
Here are our recommendations on the basics of a good ice climbing gear kit.
- Use a layering system.
Layers, layers, layers! Using a good layering system can keep you comfortable at every stage of your ice climbing journey.
Wearing optimal clothing can keep you warm and dry throughout the day.
What are the components of a good layering system?
- Base layer
- Outer layer jacket
- Waterproof outer shell
Layering your clothing gives you the flexibility to remain at a comfortable temperature throughout the day.
- Get a good pair of ice boots.
Standard hiking or climbing boots won’t cut it for ice climbing. Ice climbing boots will hold your foot securely but will not lead to blisters.
They’ll also allow you to wear crampons over your boot. To determine if ice climbing boots fit properly, walk around in them and try doing a couple of foot exercises to see how they fit around the heel.
- Invest in crampons
Crampons are a necessity for ice climbing. Look for crampons with single or dual vertical front points. These are especially helpful when you’re dealing with a variety of terrains in a single climb.
Make sure that your crampons allow you to move well and choose your movements.
- You’ll need a quality set of ice tools.
Choose ice tools that are specific to your climbing style. Depending on if you are climbing on vertical ice, Alpine terrain, or the most rugged climbing conditions, you will need a different set of ice tools and grips.
Tools can include:
- Ice screws
- Energy absorbers
- Alpine draws
- Screw holders
Inspect your tools before hitting the ice to make sure that they are in good shape.
Remember, always stay safe on the ice and consult safety guides before attempting this extreme sport.
What to look for in a harness for ice climbing
There are a number of things to look for in a good ice climbing harness. Some include:
“Harness” can mean a lot of different things. How do you know what you need in an ice climbing harness?
The way that the harness is designed can tell you a lot about its use. Sport harnesses are usually lighter and simpler than harnesses designed for work or other uses.
When you’re moving around a lot, you want to be able to move well!
Make sure that your harness includes gear loops.
When you’re on the ice, you need to carry a significant amount of equipment with you. Not only do you need to carry it, you need to be able to easily access it.
Look for loops that are easy to reach and operate.
Ice climbing harnesses usually have at least 4 gear loops. The more, the better!
Recent updates in the ice harness industry have led to loops made of foam cores for easier clipping.
Weight is an important factor, especially if you are new to ice climbing.
Weight usually correlates to the amount of padding involved.
You must weigh your preference for padding and your need to stay light. Depending on the length of the trip, your experience and skills, and weather, you may give more weight to one or the other.
Padding can be very comfortable but can also make certain types of climbing more difficult.
Closed cell padding is more effective and lighter than traditional fleece padding.
You want a harness that is sturdy and adjustable. It can have all the padding in the world, but if the harness doesn’t fit correctly, it will be unsafe and uncomfortable.
Adjustability is key.
Look for a harness that has very adjustable leg loops and waist settings.
Make sure that the harness matches the form of your body. If you have a higher waist, the harness needs to line up with it.
Adjustability is especially important for winter climbing. You will be wearing bulky clothing with lots of layers and your harness needs to adjust to your daily gear.
Best harness for ice climbing
There are a number of ice climbing harness options that may work well for you. It’s important to always consult an industry professional before using any new product.
The following harnesses may work well for your climbing needs.
Black Diamond Aspect Harness
The Black Diamond Aspect Harness could be a great addition to your ice climbing gear.
With a pre-threaded forged speed adjustable waist belt and leg loops, you can customize the fit to your exact body shape and size.
This is a great feature if you want to layer clothing during cold weather.
This can keep you safer and more comfortable. Fit is key!
This harness is made well using high quality materials. Complete with dual core XP construction, this ice harness can keep you safe during all of your climbing adventures.
Whether you’re climbing in slick environments or on sharp rocks, your harness will be up to the test.
This ice harness is ready to carry you through all four seasons of outdoor climbing.
Here are some of the construction and safety features included in this harness:
- Bullhorn shaped waist belt
- Leg loops reinforced with dual core XP construction
- 4 pressure molded gear loops
- 12kN rated haul loop
- 4 ice clipper slots
- Bombshell abrasion patches
- Adjustable sizing
If you are an avid climber all year, this harness is the rugged gear addition you can use!
As you can see, it has a host of built-in safety and comfort features. The abrasion patches are 20 times more durable than the nylon fabric that’s often found in other products!
Plus, two thin strips of webbing follow the inside of the frame to make sure that your pressure points are not overloaded.
Instead, this padding distributes the pressure evenly across your body, making your time in the harness much more comfortable.
This harness is equipped with a tool belt as well!
It provides you with 4 ice clipper slots for tools, screws and more. And, it has 4 additional gear loops and a 12 kN haul loop.
For your convenience, here is a sizing chart for this specific harness.
- S – waist 69-76cm (27-30 in) / legs 46-56cm (18-22 in)
- M – waist 76-84cm (30-33 in) / legs 51-61cm (20-24 in)
- L – waist 84-91cm (33-36 in) / legs 56-66cm (22-26 in)
- XL – waist 91-99 cm (36-39 in) / 61-71 cm (24-28 in)
View at Amazon for more information on the potential use of this harness for your needs.
DMM Renegade 2 Harness
The DMM Renegade 2 harness is another excellent option to keep you safe while ice climbing.
It’s in the top of its class and also features adjustable leg loops.
This harness also has extra padding to keep you comfortable and to reduce the pressure on your joints.
Complete with a floating wrist pad, this harness can give you a terrific fit over a wide range of body sizes and clothing selections. It also allows you to move!
This feature also allows the gear and belay loops to be aligned in a safe position.
While other harnesses can feel restraining and keep you confined to a reduced range of motion, this harness protects you while giving you space to breathe and reach.
With top-notch foam and an internal load spreading plate, this model supports and evenly distributes your weight.
The 3rd generation of DMM’s premium adjustable harness can give you a snug fit that still feels breathable.
What’s new with this update?
It now utilizes a new and improved racking system that will work with summer and winter racks.
And, DMM narrowed the belay loop to give you better compatibility with small belay biners.
Thinner rear elastics are lighter weight than material used in previous models without sacrificing quality or performance.
This harness is a great choice if you’re looking for a single harness to use in any climbing scenario.
Here are some of the best features of the DMM Renegade 2 harness.
- Fully adjustable free floating waist belt
- Side lock buckles
- Quality closed cell foam and a spreader plate to support the waist belt
- Sculpted shape for freedom and support
- Generous and versatile racking system
- Lightweight and sturdy construction
- 7 gear loops (3 on each side with one in the back)
- Strategically placed Hypalon ice clipper attachments
- 4 slots for ice clippers
- Adjustable leg loops with side lock buckles
- Rounded buckle shape for minimized snagging
- Tie in points with tough abrasion resistant webbing and belay loop
The quality of construction is a main benefit of the Renegade 2. DMM has really thought of anything!
Just take a look at the Hypalon ice clipper attachments. The attachments were modified to allow you to use 2 of the clipper points while still allowing you to use the standard gear loops.
With this ice harness, you won’t have to worry about the clipper attachments getting in the way.
Since this harness can hold up to 4 ice clippers, you will always be able to carry as many as you will need.
DMM even gave a great deal of consideration to the buckle shape!
With rounded edges and a low lying profile, the leg buckles won’t get in your way, and they are less likely to catch during your climb.
Strong Cordura fabric reinforced the waist belt and legs to give you more protection and durability.
This harness is meant to last for season after season!
View at Amazon for more information on how this product could work for your use when ice climbing.
Featured image credit: Depositphotos.com