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grandpa

Pack belt vs harness positioning?

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Here's one I've not seen any discussion on: when carrying a backpack and wearing a climbing harness (one that has gear loops) for glacier travel, how is each positioned, relative to the other?

 

One above the other, one on top of the other? It would seem to me that the harness waistbelt should be situated first, then the pack wherever it fits, but as both are designed to be placed just above the hip bones, this seems to be sortof unworkable.

 

What's the right way to go about this? Use a harness with no gear loops? I'll find out for certain in about a week, but this Q popped up last night and woke me up. Now I'm genuinely curious.

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Unless the pack is super light, you want most of the weight carried by the waistbelt.

 

I run the belt under the front two gear loops and buckle it under the belay loop, or slightly off to one side so the buckle isn't in the way. The rear two gear loops are usually covered.

 

For small, short packs I may run the pack belt and buckle above the harness, but it gets in your way more when it's up there and the belt really can't take as much weight there either.

 

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Get a low-profile alpine harness with minimal or no gear loops at all. I use mammut alpine light and find it quite comfortable to wear under a hip belt. I add gear loops/ice clippers to all my packs, so I don't need to carry any gear directly on the harness.

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The bd couloir harness fits comfortably beneath my pack's hip-belt. My pack has gear loops on the hip belt, so my gear gets clipped there, things may not work as well if you plan on clipping gear to the loops on your harness.

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I use a combination of harness and pack such that one or the other has a simple webbing waist loop and no gear loops. Lately this is a Montbel Balance Light 40 (closer in volume to my 45 liter BD Ice and Shadow packs) and a Petzl Adjama harness.

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In general, I would never carry gear on my harness loops if I were carrying a pack larger than a super-small (class 5) summit pack. My regular alpine summit pack (37liters) has a padded waist belt, so I choose to "rack" my gear from a runner looped diagonal around my neck and over one shoulder. I find that in a situation such as a crevasse fall/rescue, it can be very awkward to unclip gear from a harness.

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For glacier travel I use a super light CAMP harness and clip the few pieces (picket, screw, pulley, biners) to the pack waist belt or other convenient spot. The harness is soft and under the pack hip belt. I assume that when I stop I'll be able to take my pack off in relatively stable terrain and not need my gear (no hanging belays).

 

If it's a harder route I'll choose a pack/hipbelt that is lower profile and doesn't interfere as much with the front two gear loops on my harness. My pack is normally light enough to not need as cushy of a hip belt then and I can take it off at belays and hang it from the anchor.

 

Just try it out and see what's comfortable and allows you to reach what you need quickly, it will differe a bit with each pack harness combo and what gear you are trying to rack.

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my alpine climbing packs have gear loops on the waist belt and on the shoulder straps, so when carrying these packs, I don't use the gear loops on my harness, but just rack on the pack's gear loops.

Edited by montypiton

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Get a low-profile alpine harness with minimal or no gear loops at all....

 

Thanks, all. As it turned out, that's what I did. Used another harness instead of mine, worked out just fine. I summited my first mountain this past weekend, so when I get home and figure out how to post a TR, I'll do that.

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This gets much harder with Expedition Sized packs. I've never had problems with the 40 and under range, but 50+ and it really starts to be a problem. I contributed to my torn hip flexor by pinching myself for a whole leg of climbing on Denali. Yuk!

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I experienced no such difficulty climbing with 50+ lb packs on the Cassin Ridge and the South Face of Aconcagua... but I was using a pretty low-profile harness -- something similar to the Bod, but slightly more primitive, and with no padding. It was manufactured by a now extinct outfit DBA "Rock Bottom Enterprises". I have not climbed with such a heavy pack over a modern padded harness. So based on my own experience, I'd say if you're climbing with expedition loads, you want the lowest-profile harness you can find.

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... So based on my own experience, I'd say if you're climbing with expedition loads, you want the lowest-profile harness you can find.

 

I would agree, and this isn't based upon years of experience, nor packing heavy loads, but a one time event. I ended up using a BD alpine style harness (that had flexible gear loops that hung straight down from the belt itself), and that worked quite well.

 

Better than my nicely padded, Metolius harness (that had gear loops that stuck out sideways and were protected by plastic tubing) would have worked for me, I believe.

Edited by grandpa

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On my first Denali trip, the sewn-on gear loop tabs of my BD Alpine Bod dug into my bony hips. To the point I developed sores/wear points. At 11,000' I finally took a knife and cut the tabs off.

 

The BD Couloir is a better harness because it packs smaller and the fabric gear loops are mounted to the bottom of the waist belt, not the top like the Alpine Bod. Its become my harness of choice for ski mountaineering, mountaineering, solos and 3rd class scrambles. Blue Ice makes something similar that I'd like to check out.

 

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or, try the Camp 95 harness... its even lighter and smaller so there is less material to get in the way. Only works when your pack hip belt has gear loops on it (the harness has none).

 

Camp 95 harness

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Here's one I've not seen any discussion on: when carrying a backpack and wearing a climbing harness (one that has gear loops) for glacier travel, how is each positioned, relative to the other?

 

One above the other, one on top of the other? It would seem to me that the harness waistbelt should be situated first, then the pack wherever it fits, but as both are designed to be placed just above the hip bones, this seems to be sortof unworkable.

 

What's the right way to go about this? Use a harness with no gear loops? I'll find out for certain in about a week, but this Q popped up last night and woke me up. Now I'm genuinely curious.

 

First of all you can try your various pack choices on with a harness and find the pack that overlaps your harness the least. I do this with rock climbing packs before buying a new one. A difference of an inch can make a huge difference.

 

Secondly, with some packs you can replace a thick padded waistbelt with a narrow webbing hipbelt and get rid of the overlap this way.

 

Finally if the overlap is unavoidable you can either get a pack waistbelt that has gear loops on it and use those instead, or use a gear sling if you can't get at any waist gear loops at all.

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Get a pack with gear loops (e.g. First Ascent Alchemist 40).

Wear a harness with low profile gear loops (BD Couloir) or no loops at all (CAMP Alp 95)

Edited by cookiejar

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