There is an old joke among climbers that industry standards for harnesses require them to be as uncomfortable as possible. That certainly may have been the case a few years back. Fall safety standards had companies scrambling to produce harnesses that would shield workers from fall forces, but rarely did they take movement and comfort into account. Today the same companies that have been combining technology with absolutely outstanding ergonomic research to yield harness designs that are lightweight, padded, and comfortable enough to wear all day long.
There are a number of harnesses that made it to the top of our list. The Petzl AVAO fared very well in our estimates. In fact, we noticed that among the people who liked their Petzl harnesses, they were nearly fanatical. “Wouldn’t leave the ground without it” said one climber of his Petzl gear. And we get it. The Petzl BOD has a great cut, it’s gathered in the middle in a Y-formation so it allows excellent mobility, it has handy quick-connect buckles, and it’s very lightweight.
However, if you’re an 8-10 hour a day (plus) worker on the tall steel, the ExoFit XP for tower climbing is simply the Cadillac of climbing, the Original Cat of the tower. (That’s a Sammy Davis Junior reference there folks.) The ExoFit XP is made by Capital Safety with virtually no expense spared. Unfortunately that means you’ll need to be willing to spare no expense to purchase one. But the folks who really care about their tools and their trade consider this one of the best investments they can make.
Where the old harnesses has absolutely no padding, the XP is padded everywhere you need it – shoulders, hips, legs, and back. Much of the padding is removable so once it begins to smell or gets filthy dirty, it can be taken off and laundered. But it’s also going to get to that stage slower than other similarly padded harnesses because even the padding is well-thought-out. Mesh between the pads and the wearer helps to whisk away sweat and helps keep things from overheating.
The ExoFit XP Tower Climbing Harness is the easiest style of harness to don. It’s a vest-style harness. Actually, it’s more like Ironman’s suit with all the attachments and bits of alloy steel. But it does slip on like a vest, over the shoulders, clips in the middle, and onto the legs. Each of the clips is a fast-connect buckle so getting into and out of the harness doesn’t take all morning.
The removable seat sling is also padded and has a base made of lightweight but plenty-durable aluminum. It attaches to the hip pad/body belt and has positioning rings so you can get right in there where you need to be.
All these extra attachments – positioning rings, front D-ring, body belt, seat sling – do add to the total weight. The ExoFit XP for tower climbing comes in at a not-inconsequential 10.7 lbs. However, when you consider you feel like you’re sitting in a Lazy-Boy recliner while working at 250 ft., and return to the ground less exhausted than when you were working in a lesser harness, we feel the extra ounces are worth carrying.
Don’t agree? Have a harness you like better? Let us know.