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When to Retire a Harness

In 2007, the harness maker Arc’teryx conducted an extensive survey of used harnesses. Among the data compiled it was noted that nearly nine percent of climbers said they never inspected their harnesses. Seventy percent of these never-inspected harnesses had still been in use at the time of submission. Only 10 percent of users said they inspect their harnesses every time they put them on.

Also alarming, many climbers were unaware of the true age or history of the harnesses they were using. A number of individuals said they had obtained their harness second-hand from other climbers, climbing facilities, or guides. Many climbers were using harnesses that were well past the manufacturers’ recommended guidelines, and many were still considered as primary harnesses yet were visibly damaged. While the majority of the returned harnesses were already retired, many others were severely damaged and should have been retired long before they reached that stage.

What should you do?

Keep an eye on your tie-in spots. These will be the first areas to fray, especially if you sport climb, which involves a lot of tying and tying. You can extend your harness life by pulling out the rope slowly, instead of zipping it through, when you untie. When your harness begins to show any signs of wear, retire it immediately with full honors.