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You love spending all your time at the crag, but that summer rock harness is not exactly what you need for your transition to the ice climbing season. Putting away your trad rack also means a transition in climbing harness to ensure you are able to perform your best. While it may seem like there is not much difference what type of harness you wear, it is actually the opposite. A trad rack and ice climbing rack vary, and so does the type of harness that is going to allow you to rack up efficiently for each type of climbing. 

We here at The Adventure Junkies have compiled a list of the ten best ice climbing harnesses for you to choose from to make sure that everything you need to take with you has a place on your body. Because the season can be short, you need to maximize your time out there, which is why we’ve tried to simplify your buying process with this comprehensive list!

For more of our top ice climbing gear recommendations, check out Best Ice Climbing Backpacks.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Ice Climbing Harnesses

  1. Black Diamond Couloir
  2. Black Diamond Lotus
  3. Arc’teryx AR 396 A
  4. Mammut Togir 3 Slide
  5. Black Diamond Technician
  6. Petzl Corax
  7. Black Diamond Aspect
  8. Black Diamond Vision
  9. C.A.M.P. USA Alp Mountain
  10. Black Diamond Xenos

 

Comparison Table - Best Ice Climbing Harnesses

PictureNameGear LoopsIce Clipper SlotsHaul LoopAdjustable Leg LoopsPriceRating
Black Diamond Couloir24YesYes$4.0
Black Diamond Lotus44YesYes$4.3
Arc’teryx AR 396 A44YesYes$$4.6
Mammut Togir 3 Slide44YesYes$4.5
Black Diamond Technician54YesYes$4.5
Petzl Corax42YesYes$4.3
Black Diamond Aspect44YesYes$4.3
Black Diamond Vision54YesNo, elastic$$$4.5
C.A.M.P. USA Alp Mountain36YesYes$4.1
Black Diamond Xenos56YesYes$$4.6
PictureNameGear LoopsIce Clipper SlotsHaul LoopAdjustable Leg LoopsPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Harnesses for Ice Climbing

Black Diamond Couloir

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 7.6 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Fusion Comfort Technology
  • Gear Loops: 2
Features
  • Speed Buckles For Easy On/Off With Skis Or Crampons
  • Hydrophobic Fabric
  • Highly Compactable

BEST FOR: LIGHTWEIGHT CLIMBING

The Black Diamond Couloir  harness is right at home on ice. Designed with speed buckles, this harness can be put on or taken off quickly, eliminating the need to remove your crampons, and can fit around all your layers. Lightweight at only 7.6 oz, this is an ideal option for climbing where you need to go light and fast. 

While it only has two gear loops for organization, it does have four ice clipper slots, so you have room for some screws and your axes. Made with Black Diamond’s own Fusion Comfort Technology, this harness offers a comfortable fit. And further designed with hydrophobic fibers, it will not absorb water in snowy weather, eliminating the worry of your harness becoming wet, heavy, and frozen! Best of all, it takes up no space at all in your pack, because it reduces to the size of an orange!

Black Diamond Lotus

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 14.6 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Dual Webbing with Foam
  • Gear Loops: 4
Features
  • Four-season Women’s Harness
  • Pre-threaded Speed Adjusting Waist Belt
  • Rounded Edges On Leg Loops For Hanging Comfort

BEST FOR: WOMEN

Black Diamond brings to the table a harness designed just for women with the Lotus. And even better, this is a four-season harness, so it makes the transition from rock to ice without ever missing a beat. The pre-threaded waist belt cuts down on time when putting it on, but adjusts to fit around all the extra layers needed in ice climbing. 

There is ample gear storage with four gear loops and four ice clipper slots, so if you are on the sharp end, you can take all your screws and draws. And if you are on multi-pitch climbs, the leg loops are rounded on the edges so they won’t dig into your legs on a hanging belay. Highly affordable too, you can find this harness for around $80.

Arc’teryx AR 396 A

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 13.93 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Double Weave Four Way Stretch Fabric
  • Gear Loops: 4
Features
  • Burly Double Weave Material For Minimal Water Penetration
  • Orange Wear Safety Indicators On Belay Loop Allow You To See Any Wear
  • Elastic Loops On Legs Include Stainless Steel Hooks For Durability

BEST FOR: ALL AROUND ICE CLIMBING

Arc’teryx brings you a lightweight harness that is good for all around climbing, as the AR suggests. While lightweight, it is still a tough harness that will handle all the demands ice climbing presents. The entire harness is made of a burly, double weave material, meaning that even on the wettest days, it will be hard for water to penetrate this harness, so it will dry quickly and keep you warm. 

With four gear loops and four ice clipper slots, you can carry a full rack and stay organized and efficient. And because the risks are high enough when ice climbing, Arc’teryx has a built in safety feature on the belay loop and other tie in points. If the material becomes worn and the harness needs to be retired, an orange color will show through, taking all the guesswork out of it and keeping you safe!

Mammut Togir 3 Slide


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 15.17 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Split Webbing and Lamination
  • Gear Loops: 4
Features
  • Split, Laminated Webbing Reduces Overall Weight
  • Plastic Mold Over Gear Loops For Rigidity And Durability
  • Low-profile Fit

BEST FOR: LONG, MIXED ICE CLIMBS

Mammut designed the Togir 3 Slide harness as a good all-winter harness. With a low-profile, this harness won’t be bulky over or below your layers. Weighing just under a pound (15.17 oz), it is a lighter harness too, so it won’t slow you down. It will also pack up small, so it doesn’t take up much room in your pack. 

Made with ice climbers in mind, this harness comes with four gear loops that are further reinforced with a hard plastic. This means they are rigid enough to hold the weight of ice screws and won’t leave you fumbling to get screws attached to them. In addition to the four gear loops, it also has four ice clipper slots, so you can rack efficiently and have a place for your tools as well. And for safety as in most harnesses, the three slide waist buckles are auto-locking, making sure they will never open up unexpectedly.

Black Diamond Technician


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 13.8 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Fusion Comfort Technology
  • Gear Loops: 5
Features
  • Extra Gear Loop
  • Speed Buckles On Legs And Waist For Easy Adjustments
  • Less-rigid Gear Loops For Less Bulk

BEST FOR: MULTI-PITCH ICE CLIMBING

The Black Diamond Technician completes the harness line-up for the company as a harness that can be used anywhere, especially on ice! While this harness may seem stiff at first, it is designed with the traditional Black Diamond Fusion Comfort technology that is loved in the other harnesses. So, wearing this harness on long days and multi-pitch climbs won’t leave you sore and uncomfortable. 

With an additional gear loop, this harness has a total of five (yes, five!) gear loops. The fifth gear loop can be a haul loop, and all the gear loops are built to be less rigid than others, so they won’t protrude as much and get you hung up on random objects or make you feel bulky. This is in addition to the four ice clipper slots, so you will be prepared for long ice climbs and have everything you need when the unexpected comes your way. 

Petzl Corax

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 2
  • Weight: 15.4 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: High Strength Polyester Webbing and Foam Padding
  • Gear Loops: 4
Features
  • Two Waist Buckles for Equal Adjustment
  • Affordable
  • Super Adjustable So You Can Get Your Perfect Fit

BEST FOR: ADJUSTABILITY

The Petzl Corax has been a popular harness for some time in all realms of climbing, including ice climbing! An affordable, unisex harness, it comes in two sizes. When you are adding and removing layers and wearing large boots with crampons, you need to make a lot of adjustments just to get a climbing harness on and off. The highly adjustable leg loops allow for you to easily fit this harness over all your winter layers, including your boots.

Built with a high-strength polyester, the waist of this harness is super durable and comfortable. It is also designed with two double-backed buckles to make fine tune adjusting and a perfect fit effortless, all while keeping the belay loop centered in place. Designed with two ice clipper slots, this harness can be used for ice climbing, but might leave you desiring a bit more storage space.

Black Diamond Aspect

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 14.46 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Nylon Webbing and Polyester
  • Gear Loops: 4
Features
  • Dual Webbing And Polyester Waist Belt Distribute Weight Evenly For Comfort
  • Aluminum Speed Buckle In Waist Belt For Fast And Light Adjusting
  • Pressure Molded Gear Loops For High Strength

BEST FOR: DAY ICE TRIPS

If you are looking for a good, all day ice cragging harness, Black Diamond features the Aspect. The waist belt is designed with a dual webbing and tied in with polyester, so all the weight is evenly distributed so you won’t find it uncomfortable hanging on your waist. The nylon is also highly resistant to abrasion, so it won’t break down and tear easily. 

As any good harness should have, the Aspect includes a speed buckle on the waist that is easily tightened with just a tug. And the highly adjustable leg loops are padded for comfort and will also fit over layers and boots. With the four ice clipper slots and four gear loops, racking up should be simple. And with the reinforced pressure mold on the gear loops, they are not flimsy so you won’t be fumbling to take your screws on and off.

Black Diamond Vision

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: No, elastic
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 4
  • Weight: 7.9 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Hydrophobic, Flexible, Vectran Fibers
  • Gear Loops: 5
Features
  • Fixed Leg Loops With Elastic Risers For A Snug Fit
  • Shell-less Design To Cut Weight And Bulk
  • Ultra-light

BEST FOR: WET WEATHER

Barely registering on the scale at 7.9 oz, the Black Diamond Vision is an ultra-light harness. Highly packable, this harness is also made without a shell, so it is quick drying, in addition to being lightweight. While you can go light and fast, you still have everything you need to ice climb. 

Featured on this harness are four gear loops and a fifth loop for gear or hauling. Four ice clippers slots make room for all your screws and ice tools for a day’s play. Made with a speed adjusting waist belt, you can quickly secure it around all your layers. However, the leg loops are not adjustable, so putting this harness on before your boots and crampons is going to make your life easier. While not adjustable, the leg loops do have elastic risers for some stretching and of course a secure fit. 

C.A.M.P. USA Alp Mountain

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 6
  • Weight: 9.2 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Nylon Webbing
  • Gear Loops: 3
Features
  • Auto-locking Steel Buckles For Added Safety
  • Highly Compactable And Lightweight
  • Fully Adjustable Leg Loops For Ease Of Putting on

BEST FOR: THE MINIMALIST

A highly functional harness, C.A.M.P. USA Alp Mountain harness says it in the name – it is meant to be out in the winter. Weighing only 9.2 oz, this harness is light and packs down super small to fit in your pack and it won’t make you feel bulky while you’re wearing it. 

Fully adjustable leg loops mean you can put it on even after you’ve donned your crampons. And with auto-locking steel buckles on the waist and legs, you can ensure that when you are adjusted and locked, you will stay that way. While there only three gear loops, with the third even doubling as a haul loop, this harness is made with six ice clipper slots that allow the same amount of storage for all your screws and gear.

Black Diamond Xenos

Specs
  • Adjustable Leg Loops: Yes
  • Haul Loop: Yes
  • Ice Clipper Slots: 6
  • Weight: 14 oz
  • Waist Belt Construction: Hydrophobic Shell Material
  • Gear Loops: 5
Features
  • Fifth Gear Loop For Better Racking
  • Comes With An Ice Clipper
  • Hydrophobic Shell Repels Water On Wet Days

BEST FOR: ORGANIZATION

The Greek translation of Xenos  is “stranger” or “alien”, such as we are when we are out on the ice in new places. The Xenos harness by Black Diamond makes sure that although we are strangers, we are prepared. With all the features you need for ice climbing, this harness is designed with not four, but six ice clipper slots for custom racking! And a bonus – an ice clipper is included with the purchase of this harness. Further custom racking is able to be done on the four gear loops, and an additional fifth gear loop that can also be used as a haul loop.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING ICE CLIMBING HARNESSES

COST

A harness will certainly not be your most expensive piece of gear for ice climbing, so looking solely at the price tag is not going to do you many favors. While spending a few extra bucks on an ice climbing harness may seem pointless, it can get you a harness that is a bit more durable, have a few extra essential or convenient features, and one that will hold up longer. 

 

CLOSURE AND FIT

Getting a harness with a solid fit at both the waist and leg loops can be not only more comfortable for long days, but can make your life easier in general. Most ice climbing harnesses will have just one adjustable buckle in the waist to simplify and cut down on weight and time spent adjusting. Having two buckles, however, can make sure you get the harness seated appropriately. But adjustability is key for a good fit. And the same goes for leg loops. Buckles add weight, but also makes a harness highly adjustable, which means it will be easier to fit over your bulky boots and crampons.

 

LOOPS

Gear loops are just as important in ice climbing as in rock climbing for keeping your gear sorted and organized. Maybe even more important since the risks are higher on ice! Gear loops will be used to hold draws, screws, belay devices, etc. Most harnesses have a minimum of two gear loops, but having more will keep you better sorted when climbing ice. 

 

WEIGHT

Light means fast, and if you are in need of a harness that is minimalist because you are trekking many miles to your destination, weight is important. The more features a harness has, the more it will weigh. However, when you are ice climbing, you need to remember that you need ample features to place screws and tools and appropriate numbers of ice clipper slots to hold your tools, so those gear loops will carry a few extra ounces. But those few extra ounces can keep you organized, and can help the harness last longer and be more durable. 

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

ICE TOOL CLIPPER SLOTS

Ice tool clipper slots are slits in the waist of the harness, either behind the buckle and belay loop or between the gear loops or both. The number of slots will vary by harness, but the purpose is to insert an ice too clipper into the slots to be able to hold your ice tools when they are not being used. These clippers are also ideal for racking ice screws and keeping everything organized so you don’t end up fumbling around looking for the right sized screw while on lead.

 

DRY TREATED

As with climbing ropes, dry treated harnesses are referring to the way the material is woven to prevent it from absorbing water. Not only will a dry treatment keep you harness dryer, it will also keep your clothes dry, considering they are next to the harness, making for a much more positive experience. Furthermore, the less moisture your harness collects, the faster it dries, so you are not putting on a damp harness the next day.

 

READ MORE

For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Born in Maryland, Lindsay Rohrbaugh is an avid rock-alpine climber and mountaineer. An urban wildlife biologist by trade, she is also a travel writer and student of Integrative Medicine. When not in school or conducting field work on bats and turtles in Washington, DC, she is out climbing rocks and peaks or scaling high points across the globe. She’s hiked the Lares Trek in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and climbed various routes in Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. She has even tried her skills at deep water soloing! Her weekends are often spent with her husband in their newly self-built cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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