For rock climbers, a chest harness is very important. It can be a means to save a life. There are chest harnesses that you can buy but it is still important to know how to tie and improvise one in case of an emergency. A chest harness is meant to help a climber stay upright. Here are the steps on how to tie a chest harness.
- Use webbing to fashion a chest harness by doubling the webbing until you have a loop that is about thirty-four inches long. Tie the end and the other side of the webbing on itself with a water knot or an overhand follow-through knot.
- Twist the loop to make a figure eight and slip your arms through each loop. Bring the webbing over your head so that the point of the figure eight is positioned on the middle of your back. At this stage this will still be a loose fit.
- Arrange the loops so that they will sit correctly and flat over your shoulders. Pull part of the loops that are over your shoulders down towards the front of your chest and use a small locking carabiner to hold the loops together. Adjust the loops until you feel comfortable. The length of the original loop should be measured against the expanse of your chest with the webbing doubled up with a bit of allowance to make room for your shoulder muscles.
- Two small slings can also be used as a chest harness in an emergency. Use a girth hitch or a lark’s foot knot to tie the two slings together. Push the arms into the loops with the knot positioned at the center of the back. Use a locking carabiner in front to bring the two loops closer together and clip the rope tied to your regular harness with the carabiner. Use a short prusik knot on the rope and use it as a pulley to assist you in your climb or help lower an injured climber slowly and steadily.
- Another way to tie a chest harness is to take a long piece of webbing and fold it in half. With the folded end touching the ground, measure the length of the webbing up to shoulder level and mark it. Tie a water knot on the place that you have marked. There may be a long tail left but that is all right.
- Hold the loop on the knot and slip it over your head and across over your left shoulder like a bandolier. Hold part of the loop in front of you and reach towards your back to hold the other part of the loop on the right. Cross the parts to make an X on your side a few inches below your armpit.
- Slip your right arm through the new loop then slip this over your head and down to your left side, slipping your left arm through the loop, too. Grab the parts in front and at the back and make another X beneath your left armpit.
- Push your left arm through this loop and sling the loop over your head to rest on your right shoulder. Adjust the loops so they fit just right around your shoulders and your neck. Place a locking carabiner on the V that is formed on front of your chest and the webbing that runs laterally across your chest.
Make sure that you practice taking the measurements so you will know how much webbing to use. If the chest harness is too loose the carabiner will move up to close to your face and if it is tied too tightly your movements will be very restricted and you may also find it hard to breathe.