Whether you started taking up climbing before becoming a parent or if it’s something you began to explore after starting your family, it doesn’t matter. Because sooner or later, kids get curious about your gear. And more than likely, you’ve had to take them along to the climbing gym because you had nowhere else to bring them.
Because all kids want to be like us and imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, there’ll come a time when your kids will ask if they too can climb. At the climbing gym, there should be plenty of equipment you can rent out for younger climbers, and I highly advise doing so before you invest in it.
See, because my kids begged for gymnastics classes and then hated them. That was a looooong summer. Then, they wanted to be ballerinas. Again with the hating after shelling out tons of money on shoes and classes. So when they said they wanted to climb with me, I gave them the side-eye.
“Sure,” I remember saying thinking it was no big deal to rent the equipment at the gym for them to use. After nearly 6 months of it though, I knew I had climbers on my hands and that this wasn’t a passing phase. I had to look into getting them a climbing harness for kids.
I know a lot about climbing. I know a lot about kids. But I knew nothing about climbing harnesses for kids. So, I asked around and tried different things out. Now that my kids are bigger and still loving climbing, I have developed more experience and expertise in climbing harnesses for kids. I’d like to share with you my favorites for the 7 best climbing harnesses for children, though before I do, as a parent myself, I want you to know these are all highly-rated, extremely safe climbing harnesses that will protect your little climbers and keep them safe.
Black Diamond is a brand that many grownup climbers love. Little climbers seem to love it too. This climbing harness for kids is easy to adjust and take on and off, a nice bonus for those wiggly-jiggly kids. The high tie-in point is also an excellent feature because it keeps them upright so you won’t have any of those panicky moments.
It’s made the same way the adult harnesses are, just basically for kids and has great comfort and support. The dual-core waistband features high-tensile webbing and there’s a venting foam insert so it provides support that’s breathable and really lightweight with any irritating pressure points.
And a big one to love about it is that it’s incredibly versatile for adjustments so it can grow with your kids as they grow. In other words, unlike their sneakers for gym class, you won’t have to buy a new one next year because your kid had one of those insane growth spurts. At just 8.5 ounces, it’s not going to bog them down and will allow them the freedom to climb unencumbered.
Another Black Diamond, this one is a full-body harness style. It’s a bit similar to the first in that it has that high tie-in point for keeping your mini climber upright and it’s easy to adjust too. Also easy to take on and off.
So what are the differences? Aside from it being a full-body harness, it weighs a bit more at 11.1 ounces. That’s almost a full pound, but it’s for the full body so you’ve got the torso length, which is adjustable from 14 to 25 inches, to account for in there too. It has great potential to grow with your kids and according to Black Diamond, can be used from the age of 2 on up to 8, which the maximum weight load is noted at 88lbs.
The padded leg loops can be adjusted to 20.1 inches too. So if you want your kid in a full-body harness, this is a fantastic choice and can be adjusted for a good while. If your kid is around 7 or 8 years old though and pushing it on that weight limit, you might want to pick something else from the list so you get more use out of it.
Petzl’s Simba is a full-body climbing harness made for kids. Built with Petzl’s durability and standards, it’s another great choice for a climbing harness. The age range here is noted as 5 to 10 years of age and also recommends a maximum of 88lbs like the full-body Black Diamond.
The leg loops aren’t padded but can be adjusted to 20 inches. The ease of adjusting it to fit both in legs and shoulders is a piece of cake for climbing parents, plus it’s a great peace of mind knowing your kid is locked in and safe. This design is great for young climbers because waist belts tend not to fit them as well. I particularly felt at ease with my kids in full-body harnesses like this one so I didn’t have to worry if they slipped off the footholds on the gym wall.
My eldest says that this one is really comfortable. Edelrid has thoughtfully combined 3D mesh padding and soft webbing edges that make all points of contact with this harness free of pressure. The movable padding along the hips is really easy to adjust and get the harness into proper position on your kids.
The adjustable padded waist can fit 19.7 to 27.6 inches around, plus the leg loops, also padded, can be as well from 13.8 to 17.7 inches. That’s not as big around as some of the others but generally speaking, once your kids outgrow something like this, it’s likely time to buy them a more grownup harness.
The two gear loops are high-strength for solid support while the tie-in point features a textile abrasion protector. At only 9.8 ounces, it’s fairly lightweight too. And another great bonus: it meets Bluesign criteria for sustainability. So it’s a durable and ethical choice, one that brings comfort to your climbing kids while keeping them safe on the climbing wall.
More advanced little climber on your hands? Petzl’s Macchu is a great choice for top-roping and lead climbing. Your kid needs to weigh less than 88lbs for this one though. And Petzl adds an important warning – if your child doesn’t have much in the hip area, adding the body harness to it, which is sold separately, is urged to avoid inverting and falling.
It’s another versatile choice, whether you need to add the body harness to it or not because it can adjust to fit with 2 double-back buckles to keep a proper position for the tie-in points and gear loops no matter how your child grows. The belay loop is a different color too, which makes teaching your kids how to check it for proper attachment much easier.
Petzl uses a unique Endoframe technology on the design of this harness to distribute weight more effectively. With a padded waistbelt that adjust from 21 to 25 inches and padded leg loops that adjust from 13 to 17 inches, there are no compression points, making climbing a comfortable and fun experience for kids, just as it should be. Weighing in at around 11 ounces, it’s a little heavier, but it’s incredibly sturdy and capable. At the climbing wall, that extra weight won’t make much difference.
For kids that are a bit bigger or if you have a bunch of little climbers running amok in your home, I suggest the Mammut Ophir Kids Harness. It’s incredibly easy to adjust thanks to the four Slide Bloc buckles so you can have them swap it out at the climbing wall super-fast. The harness webbing ends have synthetic reinforcements to keep the buckle from unthreading, an added bit of “phew” for any parent.
Mammut patented the abrasion protection at the tie-in too, plus there are functional drop seat buckles, two gear loops, and easy adjustment make it a smart choice for climbing kids. You’ll find this to be the best climbing harness for your kids if you have a bunch of climbers of differing sizes or bigger kids as this one can host 35 to 110lbs. The adjustable legs are 19.6 to 26.7 inches, and while the weight comes in around 13 ounces, it’s still not too overwhelming while offering top-notch safety and support.
Another full-body harness option for you, this one fits a wide range of sizes for kids. The shoulder straps stay in place and adjusting it is easy. The kids tell me it’s comfortable too, despite there’s much more to adjust. The leg loops are each adjustable and have their own movable pads. So your kids can each get a comfortable fit, but there will be some tinkering involved when they switch off to use the harness.
You’ll also need to adjust the chest strap, shoulder straps, and the bit of fabric in the back where the shoulder straps cross. While it’s easy to get into, the adjusting to get it tweaked just right for each kid is a bit more involved, but once in place, it’s a great full-body harness for kids.
However, even though that’s a bit of a struggle to fit, it’s great for taller children and can be used for many different sized children. The peace of mind of knowing you can get it to fit just about any kid though is worth the investment of your time working with the straps.
Finding the best climbing harness for your kids really depends on their size. Smaller-sized, smaller-framed kids do best in a full-body harness. If you like a particular harness, like the Petzl Macchu for example, you can always look into adding the body harness to it for added protection and safety.
I think using a full-body harness is the safest way for your kids, but if they have more defined hips or you’re keeping things low on the climbing wall, you can test your adventures without the full-body style. With Black Diamond, you have that high tie-in point so that will keep your kiddos upright on the wall. Then again, my kids kind of liked their hang time. Other kids I’ve seen downright freaked, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If your kids are younger and smaller, you’ll want to stick to the ones that can house up to 88lbs. The other ones that feature larger leg loops and waistbelts will be too big for them. You’ll get plenty of use out of them before you need to buy a bigger one for bigger kids.
But if you have a 6-year-old and say a 9 or 10-year-old, choosing something like the Mammut Ophir might suit your family of little climbers best because it can easily adapt to both kids in a flash. What I recommend is going to try these guys on and seeing how they fit your kids. Once you know what fits and have them play around with the adjustments, you can order them here.
You can also try a lot of them out at the gym when you’re renting the equipment. It’s a good way to get familiar with the kids’ versions of harnesses. You’re likely familiar with your own and know what to look for but kids really rely on us to know how to buckle up and snap into place. For them, all that matters is climbing around and having fun. For us, we want that too but we have a responsibility to keep them safe.
That being said, all 7 of these are some of the best choices there are for climbing harnesses for kids. Give them a try and see which one is the best match for your little climbers.