Homemade minimalist alpine harness

Next week we’re heading out on a 10 day alpine traverse which will have a wee bit of glacier travel.

I need a harness in case we take part in some unplanned crevasse inspections, but want it lighter and more compact than my 420g climbing harness. It doesn’t need to be comfortable enough to sit in for long periods, or take multiple cosy falls.

I went to buy the 230g black diamond couloir harness but found the sizing was either dangerously big or squashed my balls.

So I loosely copied the design and made one out of webbing. Like the couloir harness, you can put it on without removing your skis.

testing the harness – rappelling into the chicken coop

It weighs 130g and cost about $ 25 (without the carabiner as you need that anyway.)

Pretty compact!


How to make your own

1. Cut two 150cm lengths of 2 inch webbing for the waist loop and leg support. Ideally adjust the sizes to fit yourself.

2. Pay for a shoe repair store to sew 4cm loop into the leg support webbing using strong nylon thread. Stitch 3cm of overlap – a box with a cross is apparently strong. This cost me $15.dscn0994

3. Sew female buckles next to the loop stitching with some some strap – this doesn’t bear weight.


4. Sew male buckles 8cm out from the halfway point in the leg  webbing. Ideally use elastic.


You should have one unaltered 150cm webbing – the waist loop, and one that looks like this – the leg support.



How to put it on



The harness will end up connected like this.

1. Thread the loops of the leg support webbing onto the waist loop as above.

2. Wrap the waist loop around you and tie a water knot – tie an overhand knot in one side then with the other end follow the webbing through the knot.



3. Pull the hanging loop through your legs and clip the leg straps together. If needed, slide the sewn loops forward along the waist loop.







4.  Clip a carabiner through both the waist loop and leg straps.



You should feel you can take a fall without squeezing any labia or testicles. Test that you can bear weight comfortably.

Now you are ready to fall down a crevasse!!! I can’t wait to properly test my harness. Hopefully I stay conscious so I can write a review on its performance.


Do I hear some wagging safety fingers?

  • Stitching could be dodgy – I reckon it’s all good, but if it did break it would only mean less comfort as I’m still held with the belt loop.
  • Triaxial force on the carabiner –  yeh for sure, but even an intense crevasse fall would be well under 2kN of force, and this test shows the carabiner can take 17kN triaxially.

Would love to hear comments. Especially if you think I’m stupid.


Our scrumptious lightweight menu for the trip.


tags: diy ski mountaineer traverse ultra lightweight rescue rope fall self arrest explore

3 thoughts on “Homemade minimalist alpine harness

  1. Allow me to suggest a much simpler alternative; a swiss seat

    I learned how to tie this in 1973 in boy scouts and have used this on all manner of adventures over the years. For sure i own a quiver of harnesses and have used them to good effect on multiple ascents of el cap, new routes in alaska, the karakorum etc, but for basic travel on glaciers or a bit of climbing and the odd rappel in the mtns this is a great lightweight choice.


  2. I’m a fan of your DIY solution here. Much like the swiss seat it’ll have its pro’s and con’s, but I think I might try and make one like this as well. I would recommend adding some webbing to your kit to make a chest harness. It’ll add negligible weight/bulk, while increasing both comfort and safety as well as overall ease in a rescue scenario.

    Liked by 1 person

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