Kid’s climbing harnesses are really important for a sense of security for you and your kids. Check out our article from a climbing instructor for great options that can last years of fun and learning.
We’ve seen a variety of full-body and kid’s size harnesses used indoors and out. Based on the normal use, common complaints, and size problems we’ve seen in use – these are our favorites for the best climbing harnesses for kids.
Just Want Our Top Picks?
– Best Full Body Kid’s Harness – Black Diamond Momentum Full Body
– Best Waist + Chest Combo – Petzl Macchu Kids + Petzl Body
– Popular Kids Harness – Black Diamond Momentum
Best Climbing Shoes For Kids
Kids climbing harnesses aren’t fitted based on age because of the big differences in growth between them. We’ve put the waist and leg measurements for each harness so get the tape measure out and see what’s right.
- Best Full Body Kids Climbing Harness
- Best Kids Climbing Harness
- Popular Kids Climbing Harness
- Best Kids Climbing Helmet
- Safety + Training
- Why Do Kids Harnesses Have Shoulder Straps?
- What To Look For In A Kids Climbing Harness
- Best Kid’s Climbing Harness Features
- Price / Weight / Gear Loops
- Washing Kids Climbing Harnesses
Best Full Body Kids Climbing Harness
The Momentum is a full-body harness that’s really straightforward to get in and out of. It has two adjustable buckles at the front and two more at the back so it can grow with your kid. Once you’ve got it to the size you need, you can just unclip the front and drop the shoulder straps to let them out.
The padding on the Momentum is generous and can feel more “secure” than a cheaper strappy harness. It follows much of the design of the adult Momentum harness and the kid’s waist strap version – both of which we recommend.
Overall this is a great climbing harness for younger kids, probably the best toddler climbing harness, and will help both you and your mini climber feel safe. The only real niggle is that it doesn’t have gear loops. But unless you’re getting your 6-year-old to practice their 5 point SERENE anchors this probably isn’t an issue.
It is suitable for kids up to 40kg (88lb) and is one-size-fits-all. The size range is for kids with waists from 35-65cm (14-26 inches) and legs up to 51cm (20 inches). Check the full safety manual and instructions here.
The only rated tie-in point is the two orange points in the front. You can either use a standard figure of eight through both or use two opposed screwgates through both and a knot into both carabiners. It’s also machine washable with just warm water.
Best Kids Climbing Harness
We think the Petzl Macchu is the best climbing harness for kids for a few reasons. First off as a standard sit/waist harness it ticks all the boxes. Then, you can also get the Petzl Body that sits around the torso to make up a full-body harness.
As a standalone harness, the Macchu has two adjustable waist loops so you can get the perfected fit and a centered tie-in point. Both legs have adjustable buckles and the harness has soft padding in all of the right places. This is essentially a mini version of the popular adult Corax harness.
Straps all tuck away neatly and the two gear loops on the sides are a decent size and are molded to stick out for easy clipping. The leg loops also un-clip at the back for emergency toilet breaks at the crag.
We think this harness is probably the best bet used in conjunction with the Petzl Body. You tie the two together using a standard figure of eight that’s looped through all three tie-in points as in the picture here – then you’ve got the best of both worlds.
If the Macchu Kids is out of stock you can also combine the Petzl Body with other kids’ waist harnesses – like the Black Diamond Momentum Kids in the same way.
You can use the combo as an introduction harness for younger children then as they get more confident – move to just the waist harness. The only difference to other full-body harnesses is that instead of a single tie-in point at the front, you should tie your knot as in the picture above. If you are using a rethreaded figure of eight that means the following: –
- Make the first figure of eight with a much longer tail than usual
- Thread the tail through both the top gray loops of the waist
- Thread the tail through both gray tie-in points on the waist loop
- Thread the tail back into the original figure of eight without going back through the top waist loops
- Finish the fifure eight and tie a stopped knot
You can see the full instructions from Petzl here. Note you must double back all of the harness straps.
Comes in two colors, one-size-fits-all, and is suitable for kids up to 40kg (88lbs). The waist belt fits from 56-64cm (21-25 inches) and the leg loops are 34-44cm (13-17 inches). The Body fits from 45-80cm (17.5-31.5 inches) chest. Both can be washed with warm water only.
Popular Kids Climbing Harness
We’ve seen a tonne of kids in classes wearing the Momentum Kids as their first harness. It’s a straightforward and popular choice and covers a waist and leg size a little larger than the Macchu. It’s just a mini version of the Adult’s Momentum which is a popular beginner harness.
The waist secures with one buckle, and the legs with a simple “speed adjust” system. The waist is contoured to fit better at hotspots, and there’s plenty of padding on the waist and legs. The gear loops are molded to push out for easy clipping, though the leg loops don’t unclip at the back. This is a simple and easy-to-use intro climbing harness for kids starting the learn climbing and belaying skills and comes at a great price point.
Do take care to show your child how to check that the harness is on correctly. On smaller children, we have seen them pull the top buckle tight but not quite tight enough. Often with smaller kids, you’ll need to have the top foam parts under the buckle overlap to make it tight enough to be safe.
Comes in one size in a couple of colors – blue and red. The waist fits from 56-69cm (22-27 inches) and the legs from 41-51cm (16-20 inches). Check out the instructions here and you can also wash the harness in warm water – see here.
Best Kids Climbing Helmet
If you are going outside to climb with your kids, you must take a helmet. While the kid falling is less likely, anything can happen – rockfall can kill. Indoors it’s also worth getting one in case of a weird slip. Also, watch out for them unhooking the helmet and making it a fall hazard for you!
The Black Diamond Tracer is the best kids climbing helmet
out there. It’s safe, thoughtfully constructed, and easy to wear. The over-the-wear design and rear drop give good coverage without being clunky, and lots of air vents help it stay cool.
It looks good and by bonding the outer shell to the inner it saves some bulk and weight. The best part is the easy single dial for adjusting fit at the back. It also comes with a cool sticker pack!
Safety + Training
If you don’t really climb and want to get your kid into it – please don’t just buy a harness and gear and give it a go. Please get professional instruction. Most climbing gyms run intro classes for adults to learn how to belay (hold the rope and lower the climber) safely for a reasonable price. We can also tell you how to put the child’s harness on and what to check for.
Read the instructions that come with the harness. They are actually helpful and might tell you something about the product you wouldn’t expect. For instance, the gear loops are not rated for any weight. Never tie in to a gear loop or anything that isn’t the tie-in point.
Feel free to ask instructors or other climbers to double-check your setup or technique at any point. Don’t assume things are good unless you are absolutely sure. We’re a friendly bunch and will talk all day about little things that really make a difference to safety.
Why Do Kids Harnesses Have Shoulder Straps?
Our center of gravity is around five inches above our groin – give or take body differences. This doesn’t tend to change as we grow from kids to adults. That means as an adult our center of gravity is right about where your waist harness strap sits.
With younger kids that five inches can put their center of gravity about two-thirds up their body. If they use just a waist harness and the strap is a little low, they could end up tipping backward. This could lead to hitting their head, flipping upside down, or in the worst case – coming out of the harness.
A full-body harness has a tie-in point at the front of the sternum and will keep them upright when they let go of the wall. A two-piece waist and shoulder harness will do the same. If your child is 2-6 years old or fairly small, then a full-body harness is the safest bet. If they’re a little older, we think getting a waist and chest harness combo like the Petzl Macchu and Petzl Body is the best idea.
Having the rope attached to the chest also tends to feel more secure and you have more control over any swing. Consider a full-body if your child feels worried about climbing.
What To Look For In A Kids Climbing Harness
The best climbing harness for kids depends on their age, size, and maturity. If you have a smaller or less confident kid we’d always recommend a full-body harness – or a waist and chest harness combo.
A waist harness is perfectly fine to use and should be the first choice for an older child. Really though the Petzl Macchu and Body combination is perfect to see how the child responds. If they’re fine without a chest strap you don’t need to buy a whole new harness and can use the chest strap for younger kids too.
Best Kid’s Climbing Harness Features
There are a few common issues that kids tend to have when putting on their own harnesses. While there should always be an adult ready to double-check and solve those issues – there are a few things that can help stop them upfront.
If you leave a kid to do their own harness, they’ll just step in and be done with it. Round the waist and legs? Pulled a buckle? Good to go! This leads to the harness going on upside down, the leg loops being twisted, or the whole thing being too loose.
Having a harness that only looks right one way up is helpful. That means you can do a simple visual check: it looks weird it’s wrong. Take it off and try again. Having molded gear loops that should always point down is good, as is a large and bright logo or picture so you can see which way up the harness is once put on.
Bright colors or fun logos are great so they associate climbing with fun instead of OSHA regulations. Having detachable leg loops gives you a quick way of getting the kids to use the bathroom if there’s an emergency and you can’t de-harness completely.
Price / Weight / Gear Loops
We’re not really thinking much about the price for kids’ climbing harnesses here. There aren’t any budget options available and most products are actually all at the same price point anyway.
If you think they’ll be climbing a while we’ll go back to our recommendation of getting the Macchu plus the Body so you can have a full-body harness and eventually just the waist harness. The initial outlay is $10-20 more than a full-body but might well last longer.
Weight and gear loops aren’t really an issue here either. Unless you are raising the next Brooke Raboutou then don’t worry too much about these bits. If you actually are raising the next Olympian then we’d suggest trying one Small or Extra Small models of standard harnesses in-store to check the fit is perfect.
Washing Kids Climbing Harnesses
You may want/need to wash your kid’s harness at some point. Luckily most are washable in warm water in the machine without any detergent. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines on their website or on the instructions you’ll have been given with the harness.