Rock Climbing Harness Vs. Tree Climbing Harness

Rock Climbing Harness Vs. Tree Climbing Harness

To most, ropes and harnesses are nothing more than tools for securing oneself while climbing up a mountain. But there is more to the gear than meets the eye. While many outdoor enthusiasts may believe they can tackle any climb without a rope or harness because climbers use their hands as they scale the rock, it’s not as simple as that. Some disciplines require the use of such equipment to complete safely (i.e., rock climbing).

What Is Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing refers to the activity of moving up a vertical rock face. Rock climbers use ropes, and safety harnesses made up of webbing, specifically nylon, to suspend themselves on the rock’s face. Webbing is made up of fibers that are woven together for compactness. The two main components of the webbing are fibers of synthetic polyester and nylon. The climbing harness is a belt that covers one’s waist and supports the weight of one’s body from falling. Rock climbing is not an activity for everyone. Furthermore, the cost of learning rock climbing is high.

Tree Climbing

Tree climbing is the act of scaling trees to ascend them. Tree climbers use ropes and harnesses to help them climb up tall trees, but the harnesses differ from those used for rock climbing. Tree climbing harnesses are designed to prevent injury in extreme situations such as a fall, and they come with built-in padding to disperse shock and prevent any injury. They also have quick-release buckles, which allow for easy removal.

Different Types Of Harnesses

  • Body Harness: The bag has two shoulder straps, two leg straps, and a waist strap. An adaptable strap allows the climber to customize their fit. Harnesses are typically made of nylon and are lightweight. They are among the most common types of climbing harnesses because they are less bulky when compared to other options.
  • Safety Harness: Safety harnesses are designed to protect the gear when descending, helping the climber stay secure and prevent falling if something goes wrong. They come with a carabiner for help with removing the harness at the end of a climb, and they’re primarily used by mountaineers and climbers when ascending or descending a mountain.
  • Arrest Harness: Arrest harnesses are designed for use during rescue missions. Rescuers can use it to help an unconscious person after they have fallen.
  • Butt Board Harness: A butt board harness is a climbing harness with a chest strap designed to help climbers maintain their balance while climbing.
  • Feet Up Harness: A feet-up harness is designed just like other climbing harnesses, but the difference between the two is that this one has an extra strap that goes around the feet. This type of harness is not ideal for boarding or rappelling.
  • Regular Harness: Regular harnesses are designed to keep the climber from falling off while climbing. They’re mainly used by those who climb frequently or for professional purposes.
  • Rock Harnesses: Rock climbing harnesses are designed to support the climber’s body weight when they fall. They’re typically larger and bulkier than other types of harnesses because they have to secure the body in case of a fall.
  • Tree Climbing Harness: Tree climbing harnesses are designed to prevent injury in extreme situations such as a fall. They come with built-in padding to disperse shock and prevent any injury. They also have quick-release buckles, which allow for easy removal.
  • Diamond Rock Harness: These climbing harnesses are intended for use in the mountains or on rock faces. They come with a chest strap and a padded waist belt. The padding helps keep the climber safe while climbing, and the strap provides support and secures them against their rope.
  • Treestand Harness: A treestand harness allows for a more comfortable tree stand climbing experience. The harness helps the hunter stay balanced and ensures no hindrance to their ability to aim correctly.

What Is The Purpose Of A Rock Climbing Harness?

Every climber knows how important it is to be prepared while scaling a rock face. Climbers use harnesses to secure themselves to a rope for safe descent if something goes wrong, ensuring maximum body protection while climbing. Rock climbing harnesses come with built-in padding and other features designed not only for comfort but also for security.

Weight Limit for Rock Climbing Harnesses

Rock climbing harnesses differ in terms of the weight limit, which is essential to know before purchasing one for those who climb frequently and regularly to have a harness that withstands regular use and rugged climbing. Safety harnesses are designed to minimize the risk of injury while climbing.

Different Type Of Saddles

A climbing harness must be designed to support the weight of the rock climber. The most common parts of climbing harnesses are belts and saddles. There are three basic kinds of climbing harness saddles.

1. Tree Saddles: Tree saddles are used by climbers who prefer to climb vertically. They’re designed with a curved center that allows the climber to sit on the saddle rather than standing.

2. Multi-Point Saddles: Multi-point saddles are a favorite because they provide plenty of support for the climber while not restricting movement during climbing. These saddles have passed numerous tests and are trusted by rock climbers all over the world.

3. Fleece Saddle: Fleece saddles are a newer design that is becoming a popular addition to climbing harnesses. These saddles are more comfortable than the standard nylon versions, and they’re also flexible and durable.

4. Arborist Saddles: Tree trimmers and arborists often use arborist saddles. They have built-in suspenders and an extra-long waist belt that secures the climber in the saddle during tree-climbing exercises.

Essential Factors To Consider When Selecting A Rock Climbing Harness

Rock climbing isn’t something to take lightly, so it’s vital to be prepared before you even attempt a climb. Your climbing harnesses are non-negotiable when it comes to your safety, while scaling a rock surface can be dangerous – especially if you’re not wearing gloves. Every harness you buy should meet the following criteria:

Harness Comfort

The most important thing you need to consider above all else is how comfortable your harness is. You don’t want to experience any undue discomfort while climbing. For that reason, it’s crucial to get a harness that fits securely and comfortably. Harnesses should also be tested out before use. 

Harness Affordability

A climbing harness is a necessary piece of equipment for many people, and there’s no denying this. If you’re going to buy something that’ll take you places, then it might as well not be going to break the bank. Usually, the more expensive the harness, the stronger it will be and the more comfortable it will be for your body.

What Is The Difference Between A Rock Climbing Harness VS Tree Climbing Harness?

A tree-climbing harness design differs from a rock climbing harness because it’s designed to protect against shock. It means it has built-in padding to protect the climber if he/she falls from a great height.

  • Tree climbing harnesses are more suitable for climbing trees with small branches.
  • The tree climbing harness is generally more fitted to its wearer since it doesn’t have loops to tighten the straps.
  • There is no need for the tree climbing harness straps to be adjustable since there’s no pressure on the shoulders or chest of its user.
  • The tree climbing harness is made of a softer material compared to a rock climbing harness, making it more comfortable to wear when one climbs trees.
  • The tree climbing harness has adjustable buckles.

Why You Need A Rock Climbing Harness Instead Of A Tree Climbing Harness?

A rock-climbing harness is necessary for rock climbing. Tree climbing harnesses serve a different purpose, so it’s best to get one that caters to your need.

  • Rock climbing harnesses have straps that are easily adjustable and can be tightened or loosened on the fly in weight distribution changes.
  • Rock climbing harnesses have padding incorporated in the design so that the climber is protected against falls from great heights.
  • Rock climbing harnesses have built-in loops so that they can fit tighter around the wearer.
  • Rock climbing harnesses can be tightened when needed instead of tree climbing harnesses that are not meant for that.
  • Rock climbing harnesses have a chest strap to prevent the climber from falling backward while carrying a heavy load from falling from a great height.

List of Ropes

The following ropes are listed and described as to why they are considered the best climbing ropes for climbers.

Safety Rope: This rope is imperative for every climber. It is designed for use when ascending or descending mountains.

Tether Rope: The tether rope is a climbing rope around ten meters long. As an aid rope or for fastening climbers to a carabiner, it is used to fasten climbers to their harnesses.

Trace Rope: The trace rope is the last line you’ll use before going down for rappelling activities. These rock climbing ropes are designed to hold the weight of your body and gear while descending and will be the first line that gets used up when descending from a mountain using ropes.

Bridge Rope: Bridge ropes are used to hold your position during climb and rappelling activities. It is used for this purpose in case of a rope failure.

Pelican Rope Positioning Lanyard: This rock climbing rope comes with a hanger to help you get more grip while climbing.

Descender Rope: The descender rope is made up of webbing and is used by climbers to pull themselves down.

A Safety Knot

The safety knot, also known as a harness knot, is the most basic and essential climbing equipment used to fasten the climbers to his/her harnesses. The knot must be tied in a certain way so that it does not come undone during activities. An excellent way to do this is by tying knots around the waist belt and then tie another knot around each end of the waist belt.

How To Tie A Prussic Knot

A prussic knot, also known as a harness knot, is the most basic and essential climbing equipment used to fasten the climbers to his/her harnesses. A prussic knot is the most common and efficient climbing knot. It is used to secure yourself while rock climbing and prevent your body from falling against the wall you’re climbing. It doesn’t require any equipment to do, so this is the reason why it’s a strong climbing knot to know.

Type Of Loops

  • Bridge Loop: A bridging loop is used to keep the climber from falling back on their harnesses when they are climbing on a rope. Bridge loops are usually found around the waist belt and just above it.
  • Green Loop: The green loop is used to secure the webbing of your climbers for rappels.
  • Four Loop: A four-loop harness system is designed in a way that it can be adjusted to fit in place. This system is also known as a climber’s carabiner.
  • Lineman Loops: They are used to fasten climbers to harnesses and are usually located on the lower part of the harness.
  • Prussik Loops: Prussik loops are a set of loops found around the waist belt. Prussik loops are primarily used for self-rescue.
  • Soft Loops: Soft loops are usually found on the outside of the climbing harness.
  • Double Prussic Loops: The double prussic loops are used to secure your seat on a rope when ascending or descending from a cliff.
  • Wide Leg Loops: Wide leg loops are used to secure your seat and the climber’s feet on a rope when they are climbing it.

Are Rock Climbing Harnesses Suitable For Climbing Trees?

The best places for rock climbing are located across the country. Rock climbing harnesses have several uses. Since they’re designed for use in the mountains, they’re also suitable for tree climbing. However, if you’re looking to climb trees with bigger branches, it’s better to use a particular type of harness. A tree-climbing harness is designed to secure the climber against their rope in case of a fall.


The conclusion would be that the tree-climbing harness is more effective, and the benefits outweigh anything that the rock climbing harness can offer. It is a safer option for these climbers as well as more comfortable. The tree-climbing harness is also easier to use and does not require much effort to set up and start using than the rock climbing harness, which usually needs adjustment with time. All in all, it’s better to use the tree-climbing harness for your climbing purposes as they are safer and you do not want to get ripped from rock climbing.