In principle, it is known that full body harnesses are useful for situations where the center of gravity is higher - e.g. for children, or for Alpine situations involving carrying heavy loads. A full body harness reduces the risk of flipping upside down in case of a fall in such situations in particular.

Nonetheless, I have not seen people wearing a full body harness on the mountains. More pertinently, when I wanted to buy myself a full body harness (for adults), I checked two of the better known manufacturers - Black Diamond and Petzl - the former doesn't even make it, and the latter sells only a single model (and dozens of sit harness models).

Why are full body harnesses uncommon in practical mountaineering?

  • Weight, bulk, etc. Full-body harnesses do not offer any meaningful advantage over normal ones, except for children, but only because the normal ones never fit them well enough. Dec 30, 2019 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Full body harnesses are not used because of:

  • Weight (for obvious reasons)
  • Bulk (Getting all gear to your climbing desintation can be a chore. Everything else being equal, a more packable harness is preferred)
  • Freedom of movement (a full body harness hinders arm movements)
  • Clothing (Taking a jacket on and off with a body harness is a mess)

Instead, climbers add an (ready made or improvised) chest harness if circumstances require it.

  • On a glacier a full body harness is a disadvantage as well. You are tied in at a higher point compared to a sit harness which makes it harder to hold a crevasse fall
    – Manziel
    Jan 7, 2020 at 8:33
  • True. OTOH if you’re the one in the crevasse, a higher point is good. But the standard kiwi coil provides that.
    – Guran
    Jan 7, 2020 at 20:37
  • Full body harnesses very much used to be a thing: I still have my old Mammut one somewhere that I climbed in for years. I believe they fell out of fashion following some new piece of safety research.
    – user3245
    Jul 3, 2020 at 19:52

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