Yes, you can go to the bathroom while wearing a climbing harness, in most cases. It all depends if your harness has drop seat ability. A drop seat is when you can undo the back of the harness leg loop straps. Undoing these strap(s) will allow you be totally clear to pull your pants down and do your business.

The harnesses below have drop seat ability:

The buckles / clips that allow for a drop seat are highlighted in green.

Drop seat harnesses with highlighted buckles
We've highlighted the hooks, buckles, and clips on these drop-seat harness models in green.

Not all drop seats are created equal. Let’s talk about the different designs seen in the photo above.

Left column: Large buckles are the easiest to get off/on. They’re also the heaviest so they’re usually only seen on “comfort” focused harnesses. Sometimes there will be two buckles, but most times there will be one. (Petzl Sama)

Middle column: Small buckles can sometimes be harder to get off / on than they look, especially if you have gloves on. The harnesses pictured are all lightweight models so they feature a smaller buckle to keep weight down. (Blue Ice Choucas Pro , Edelrid Prisma Guide, Petzl Sitta)

Right column: Clips, hooks, or other non-buckle attachment options are the hardest to get off / on compared to buckles. Often these are lightweight options. Much of the off/on ease depends if the fabric loop that holds the clip also holds its shape (or is easily opened) or if the fabric goes flat or is a very tight/small hole making it harder for the clip to enter. (Arc’teryx C-Quence, Metolius All Around, Black Diamond Solution)

These harnesses DO NOT have drop seat ability:

harnesses without dropseat 1
These harnesses do not have a drop seat ability.

In the above image, from left to right:

  1. Some lightweight mountaineering harness leg loop straps are permanently fixed and are not adjustable either. (Singing Rock Serac)
  2. Some lightweight sport climbing harness have adjustable straps, for dialing in the leg loop distance but they do not come undone. (Wild Country Mosquito)
  3. Occasionally trad harnesses have the leg loops straps sewn into a fixed position and are not adjustable. (DMM Puma 2)
  4. Sometimes harnesses have adjustable leg loop straps (thus the sliding buckle you see), but they do not come undone for drop seat capabilities. (Mammut Ophir Fast Adjust)

To go to the bathroom outdoors

Assuming you need to pull your pants down to use the bathroom.

  1. Unclip/unbuckle the drop seat strap(s) on the back of the harness that hold the leg loops
  2. Slide the leg loops down as far as you can (they will be looser, but the belay loop will still limit their movement)
  3. Pull pants down
  4. Squat [and go]
  5. Pack out solid waste via a wag bag


  • You can use this still-wearing-the-harness method on the ground or while tied in on a multi-pitch climb. If you are on the wall, you will still be safely tied in at the belay loop and your harness will still work. We recommend waiting for a ledge as that makes the process simpler.
  • Not all clips/buckles are easy to undo and/or put back on. It may take a few tries or require help from your partner.
  • If you’re going #2 outside, the best practice is to use a wag bag or some sort of poo collector. With the rising number of climbers, and how long it actually takes for poo to degrade, disposing versus burying is the better option. Check out this Access Fund short to see how a wag bag works.
  • Many brands make wag bags for humans. They typically have a large bag that creates the poo drop zone that also includes a deodorizer, and a smaller, sealable airtight bag to hold the excrements safe. Varying amounts of toilet paper and hand sanitizer are also included. This entire package should be packed out and disposed of in a trash bin.
  • This all may take a bit of practice. Not only for aiming and collecting, but also in how the angle of the ground effects the position of your hanging leg loop straps. These straps can easily find themselves in the way. Sometimes it’s just simpler to take the harness off.

To go to the bathroom indoors

We highly suggest taking off your harness before entering the restroom, partly for common courtesy and the appearance of caring about others and their sanitization concerns. Promoting good hygiene while climbing indoors is always appreciated.

  • Otherwise, if you’re using a urinal, you can gain access without taking your harness off. Just be extra careful about splashing and drips.
  • If you need to pull your pants down, note that your hanging leg loop straps may touch the toilet or the floor.

Remember: ALWAYS take your shoes off before going to the bathroom indoors. If you don’t, your shoes will touch the debatably clean bathroom floor, and then will touch climbing holds. Many of these holds are also hand holds, which hands touch. NOBODY wants to knowingly or unknowingly touch the bathroom floor with their hands when they are climbing.