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I have some common knowledge about knots used for Climbing and Rope-care.

There was an incident last week, where I needed a Seat-Harness which I didn't have with me. I needed one for tying up a friend when we cross water streams. I could do that with just a Bowline around her waist but then on the other hand I always carry tape Slings like shown here.

Have anyone ever made a make-shift harness out of such tape slings?

Now, Why don't I carry a actual Harness with me, is valid question. I'd do that most of the times, but yeah the way like the last time around I missed it, I may again do the same.

  • Not sure what purpose this would be for, but if you just need to be attached to something and are concerned about bulk, why not carry a mountaineering harness? They are lighter and can be much more compact. – Andrew Aug 1 '14 at 16:56
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    @Andrew: No, it's the other way around. A real climbing harness is much heavier and bulkier than this type of harness, which is just a loop of webbing plus a locking carabiner. – Ben Crowell Aug 1 '14 at 17:01
  • @BenCrowell True, I meant lighter than a traditional climbing harness or heavier harnesses like a full body harness. – Andrew Aug 1 '14 at 17:28
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I'll preface this by saying I've never tried this in a real world application myself, but I was curious and found some instructions for creating quick harnesses out of webbing from a web search.

I want to add that I am in no way endorsing this for climbing or prolonged use beyond a static hang or an emergency situation. I've heard and read that rope/webbing harnesses can be quite painful and can possibly cause injury if someone were to fall in them, due to lack of padding.

The first way I found is from the American Alpine Institute blog, which, half-way down the page mentions the diaper sling shown below, and then another alternative called the Swiss Seat shown in a Youtube video or similarly here.

Swiss Seat Harness from Animated Knots

The next is called a Diaper Sling. From here:

Diaper Sling Instructions

Diaper Sling

You'll need one piece of 1-inch tubular webbing. The length will vary depending on the size of your waist and thighs but 12-feet is usually plenty.

Create a loop out of the sling by tying the ends together with a Water Knot.

With the loop horizontal (parallel to the ground) run the top half of the loop across the small of your back, and the lower half of the loop below your buttocks. Keep the knot towards the front so that it is smooth against your back and thighs.

Then, reach between your legs, to grab the lower loop and pull it in between your thighs. Keep holding on to the original loop!

Finally, clip the whole mess together.

Ta-da.... you have created a diaper sling.

I used the instructions to create a test diaper sling myself, and it seems like it would hold me, but if i really needed a harness I'd probably opt to spend the time making the Swiss Seat.

As I mentioned above, mountaineering harnesses can be little more than stitched webbing with some added thickness which might be a better alternative if this is going to be more than a one time use.

One last comment addressing your question. I don't know your exact use case, but using rope while crossing streams/rivers is generally risky business. For example, "The two hikers had tied themselves onto a rope that had been placed across the stream earlier this summer. They lost their footing and were pulled under by the current." Though there are techniques to use rope and anchors to successfully cross streams/rivers, when misused the rope can get pulled into the water, creating lots of drag and usually taking whoever is attached right off their feet. You might be quite experienced with this, so I'm just leaving this as a general fair warning.

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    I did learn how to tie a Swiss Seat (25+ years ago) and have used it on several occasions. But the video you link to doesn't seem anything close to what I learned (many youtube comments argue that it might even be unsafe). The one I learned to tie is like the one in this video except that we used webbing. – Roflo May 6 '15 at 20:47
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There is a description of this in Freedom of the Hills, around p. 149 in the edition I have. They describe it as an emergency alternative to a manufactured harness. Peter Croft also suggests using them intentionally for lightweight climbing, if you don't think the climb requires a harness, but you will want to rappel at some point.

The basic idea is to make a loop out of webbing, using a water knot. Put it behind your butt, and then bring three bights forward: one between your legs, one around the left hip, and one around the right hip. Clip all three bights together using a locking carabiner.

It may take some trial and error to get the length right. For instance, I have a 75 cm waist. I used 254 cm of webbing, made a water knot with two 8 cm tails, and got a loop with a circumference of 213 cm, which was about right for me.

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  • Thanks for the data about length of the rope that I may need. Example with your waist size does help with less efforts in trials. Thanks :-) – WedaPashi Oct 30 '14 at 6:54
  • Could you provide a picture of that, please? – Mr.Wizard Feb 10 '16 at 12:29

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