Harnesses that don’t fall into the typical small-medium-large range are in a state of utter chaos. There are no rules, not even generally speaking. According to harness brands, the range of an XL could be anything from 26-59 inches (66 – 150 cm).

When we received an email from a larger man asking what his harness options might be, we arrogantly replied, “On WeighMyRack you can filter on XXL and XXXL harnesses and see all the options.”

In retrospect, this was stupid because we had naively used the official brand sizes to catalog harnesses. And, as it turns out, there is zero standard for harness sizing above Large.

After receiving this email (and sending a pathetically inadequate response) we started investigating. This became a fascinating rabbit hole full of mystery, frustration, long nights, printed graphs, rulers, and the desire to fix this newly exposed problem.

Late one night we graphed all the XL harnesses and were astounded at the results. These were the harnesses listed as “XL” in the WeighMyRack database (before our re-classification):

XL Harness chart

Despite the fact that XL harness sizing is all over the map, it turns out most brands don’t even bother categorizing any harnesses as XXXL. At first, this makes sense, since less of the climbing population is this size. But, adding to the confusion, the XXXL harnesses in our database maxed out at sizes smaller than some XXL harnesses (as labeled by the brands).

Official Sizes Before any Re-Categorization

This lack of size standardization by the brands is enough to make one’s head spin. (I still look at these graphs incredulously). But WeighMyRack wasn’t helping the issue at all.

During this investigation we also realized that we were acting ignorantly when we categorized highly adjustable harnesses as “one size fits all harness” in addition to the size the brand officially labeled it. This meant a widely adjustable harness could be labeled “one size fits all” and perhaps a “Small” or “Large” as the brand signified the difference between two ranges. In reality, the “Large” harness would have been more properly classified as a “one size fits all” to signify range and  L, XL, and XXL. So we started working on a solution to be more specific with sizes that aren’t called out by the brands but definitely relate.

WeighMyRack Size Standardization

WeighMyRack has always listed the size chart of each harness in the technical specs, and we’ve had a size filter that corresponded with the brand’s sizing strategy. But now we’re also categorizing harnesses in multiple sizes that the manufacturers don’t mention. We’ll list the official size along with a “standardized” size (based on our data analysis). This means that instead of just a “one size fits all” designation, a harness with wider adjustability will now have the appropriate L, XL, XXL designation as well.

two sizing standards combined

This added re-categorization finally makes it’s easy to find larger harnesses on WeighMyRack when using the size filters. Very little changed for the smaller sizes because the official sizing is much more consistent across brands and models. You’ll also notice there’s a lot of overlap between the sizes, standardized or not. This overlap matches the entire harness spectrum from XXS-XXXL.

Full Harness Size re-categorization

It’s very possible that you can fall into 3 sizes of “standardized sizing.” This is because the range of brands and their sizing also widely varies. When we tried to make the ranges smaller, inevitably, we would be leaving out at least 2 popular brands. So the smaller size range, we would effectively hide harnesses that actually fit. So we had to keep the sizing standard somewhat broad in order to ensure we weren’t falsely eliminating options from your search. We’ll definitely revisit this issue as time goes on and we talk to each of the brands more.

Note: Unless you’re on the extreme ends of the sizing range (XXS-XS and XL-XXXL), the size filters don’t really narrow the results because essentially every harness is available in S, M, and L.

If you want to see all the harness options, visit WeighMyRack.com/harness.

Or, if you’re on the larger side of the harness spectrum, you can also check out our post that lists all the largest harnesses (for 45″ waists and above).

Summary

Thanks to an inquisitive WeighMyRack user, we delved into harness sizing and realized that the sizing (particularly on the upper end) is all out-of-whack. We re-categorized harness sizing and updated every harness on the site so the size filter on WeighMyRack now provides helpful results that correspond with the a “new” size chart and not just the brand’s listed size.

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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