/ 11+ year old harness, never used. Death trap?

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LeadMagnet - on 03 Dec 2012
I was a fairly regular indoor climber 11 years ago before swapping up hobbies. I'd purchased new an Arcteryx harness at that point, and due to an unrelated injury that put me out of the game for a while, never ending up using it, not once. It's still packed away and I've recently been considering getting back into climbing as I'm near to a wall for the first time in a long while.

So the question is - what is the expected lifespan of a never-used harness? Does a natural degradation of material occur over time regardless of active use?

And if the answer to the above is "throw it away!", can purchasing a *used* harness ever be considered a viable option for safety sake, or is it just taking a foolish risk?

Thanks in advance!

- LM
davidbeynon - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

If it's been kept away from direct sunlight, chemicals and gnawing rodents it should be OK.
iccy - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:

Official recommendation is probably to replace it. If it were mine I'd be much happier with something of that age that I knew the exact history of rather than something second hand with unknown history.
Enty - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

If you're worried about it get it on ebay.....

E
davidbeynon - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to iccy:

I wouldn't accept an 11 year old harness from someone, but if it was mine and I knew how it had been stored then I wouldn't be too upset about using it. I just retired one that wasn't far off 10, and it had been battered.
Muel - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

I'd trust it 100%. Up until recently I was using a harness that was my Mum's from about 1984. Most of my trad gear is of a similar age.(Got several pieces from the 70s as well). As long as it's been stored somewhere out of sunlight, dry and well ventilated, I wouldn't worry at all.

Personally of course, if there's a doubt in your mind then bin it, a new harness will only cost 50-80. Worth it for the piece of mind really.
mp3ferret on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

as long as its been stored correctly then the life time of equipment is usually from first use - not from manufacture.

thats what they told me when I did a ppe/fpe inspection course - so i can check kit for our mr team.
LeadMagnet - on 03 Dec 2012
Thanks all - yeah, it's just balancing being sensibly cautious against unnecessarily nervous. It's been packed away tightly in a sealed container for ages (much to the constant annoyance of my wife who wonders if I ever plan to use it) and I'd certainly give it a good once over. Nice to know I shouldn't expect it to vaporize on me immediately.
cuppatea on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

I did some top roping using a 20 year old petzl... I'm planning on retiring it though if anyone wants it for scientific destruction measuring testing?
davidbeynon - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:
> Nice to know I shouldn't expect it to vaporize on me immediately.

Not immediately, half way up the second pitch :)
nigel pearson - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet: In the end it is entirely your call as to whether you trust your life to it.
GrahamD - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

I still use one of my 11 year old harnesses at the wall
3414peterk - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet: By asking the question, you've given the answer. What will be at the back of your mind as you let go of the top of the wall?
cuppatea on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to 3414peterk:

Nail on the head. Advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer but but wish it weren't true.
needvert on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

Could take a few hard falls on it in circumstances where it breaking would be safer, like if your indoor wall has monster movable bouldering mats.

Not an assurance its ok though
Jamie B - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

I think you'd be insane to get rid of it. Unused? Safely stored? Fully inspected? Can anyone explain to me how it's supposed to have magically become unsafe?

If you do however insist on succumbing to paranoia, I'll happily take it off your hands.
Siward on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: I tend to agree. Folks wouldn't have dreamed of getting rid of such a bit of kit say, 20 years ago. There's too much emphasis on 'maufacturers recommendations' rather than common sense.

I have a nice 11mm dry treated rope and a harness, used about 3 times, which have been sitting in a bag in the attic since 1990. I honestly can't see anything wrong with them and I just don't buy the idea that they've simply rotted away. In 100 years maybe.

This has been posted many times before:

http://www.theuiaa.org/upload_area/files/1/About_Ageing_of_Climbing_Ropes.pdf

Disclaimer: Just buy a new one if you want to :)
CurlyStevo - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
So you don't believe that material kit degrades over time? Would you be happy if the same was true but it was 20 years (or more) old? Where would you draw the line?
CurlyStevo - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Siward:
Aye I often quote that article.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the 30 year old rope did break from the second fall (or perhaps I inferred that), and we all know that nylon stable tape does weaken with age (when left outside) so there still could be a bit more going on here than the UIAA article suggests.

Harnesses rely on other materials than just nylon. The stitching is often more akin to polyester AFAIK. This hasn't been tested.

In any case it may be OK. I'm not sure where I would draw the line myself. I'd certainly be starting to think about the safety of a harness by the time it got to 11 years old but until I was in the situation it is hard to say where I'd draw the line. That said some of the manufacturers have recently upped the upper lifespan of material kit to 10 years of use (and I "think" that is after a maximum of five years of shop storage but you may want to check that) so with this in mind I'd probably personally be happy to use the harness but I'd be checking it a bit more often than a brand new one personally.
CurlyStevo - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
Regarding ropes I found this article which is pretty interesting.

http://www.paci.com.au/downloads_public/PPE/13_Rope_shelf_life_PToomer.pdf

It shows that tests of 11 yr and 5 yr old UNUSED well stored ropes had not degraded in strength at all and still exceeded the quoted figures.
ads.ukclimbing.com
jkarran - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

Presuming you've not been storing it under the sink with the drain unblocker and the patio cleaner I'd still use it. I'd certainly use it over a second hand one of less well known history (which I'd probably also use if it looked ok).
jk
M0nkey - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet: I don't think i own a harness under 11 years old. I think it'll be fine.
Exile - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

Fine
colina - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:personally i wdnt have any problem using it.its never bin out of the packet .its not bin stored in a damp shed.its a new old harness thats all.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to LeadMagnet:

I'm still using an 15 year old harness that has been regularly used!

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