/ Has a zip lock harness buckle ever failed?
Never heard of a failure, just curious.
(Cliffhanger wasn't a zip lock...)
There's this one, but there's every chance the user threaded it wrong:
They will obviously fail if you lift it (ie. how they're designed to operate), which is why a lot of people no longer back up abseils onto the leg loops.
If you've got your waist belt done up properly, I can't see why a leg loop failure would be anything other than seriously uncomfortable (as anyone who has erroneously tied only into their waist belt will attest).
Edit: I find they work loose when not loaded and need tightening, but I've never known them loosen when loaded. And I'm pretty heavy.
Well, if you've got your abseil backed up onto it, weight that and the act of weighting it undoes the leg loop, your abseil is no longer backed up onto anything and you die.
(I'm not saying this is likely!)
Good point, so it brings the abseil backup into question rather than the harness itself.
Edit (seeing as you also did ;) ) - I've done a backup this way and I couldn't see it coming undone based on where the krab naturally sat, though I could replicate it by deliberately moving things about. Haven't tried it on my new harness. I guess it would depend on the positioning of the buckle, which itself would depend on how big your legs are!
You don't die because your abseil isn't backed up. In any case in the extremely unlikely event you decide to let go of the rope, more likely it just means the prussik gets jammed in the ATC
Yes, maybe I was unclear. I was not saying there's anything wrong with the harness doing this - it's how it's intended to operate - but it is a way that the system can fail if speed adjust buckles are used and some people MIGHT class it as a "buckle failure" (though I agree that it's not).
I don't like them - I made sure I bought some of the last ones that had double-back buckles.
When I worked in a gear shop, a customer returned a Petzl harness, as he claimed it had worked loose and started to fall down when he was walking in it.
He said he wouldn't feel safe climbing in it, if it could work loose - I tend to agree with him.
Actually, in my experience a prussik riding up to the ATC is a very bad thing. For most diameters, the prussik won't go into the ATC, and instead rests on the lip. The ATC prevents the prussik from locking, and the prussic helps guide the rope smoothly into the ATC: so you descend rather fast.
I've just had a quick check in "The Mountain Skills Training Handbook", and Pete Hill agrees with me. Indeed he recommends not using a leg loop prussik at all, as if knocked unconsious and upside down, the prissik will reach up to the plate.
Not saying you should never use the technique, horses for courses and all that, but don't expect a prussik reaching the plate to end well.
"as he claimed it had worked loose and started to fall down when he was walking in it"
That isn't unknown with those (mine does that). What it doesn't mean is that it will fail under load, as the action of weighting the harness causes the buckles to pull tighter.
I've never actually noticed that happening, tbh - my mountain rescue harness is zip lock (by choice, as retreading a traditional buckle in the cold and dark over lots of clothing has always struck me as being something where errors could easily slip in) - and we often put harnesses on before walking up the hill to the crag.
I'm only remembering an unfortunate experience I had in my early days when experimenting with my abseil systems !
I didn't say it would fail under load, but if it's getting looser every time I step up or when I'm pulling it around to get gear on/off the loops and then falls down mid-pitch, I wouldn't consider that safe.
Zip lock does save time and for novice users are a bit safer. Overall I don't like them as much as they do need repeated tightening during the day.
It's not anywhere near that bad. Only real way for you to know if it suits you is to try one, though.
To quash the speculation in your comment -
In regards to backing up the abseil on a leg loop, that doesn't (in my experience of regular use) have any real effect on the buckle of the harness. Personally I always see fit to wrap the rope around my leg once or twice when taking my hands off the prussik, thereby negating any risk of failure.
To clarify, he mentioned when walking. They can come loose if you're walking while wearing one. Though that can also be a sign that it's getting a bit worn if the buckles don't bite as well as they should.
Yes they do. Same issue here, and i also avoid them whenever i can for that very reason. They are a bitch to tighten, and then they work lose on their own, I'm not gear designer, but something tells me it should be the other way around...
Not if halfway up a pitch you realise your harness is making good progress in trying to get down to your knees.
Or a design flaw that failed to test cyclical movement over long periods of time with a large uk trad rack hanging off it.
There's also the issue of a buckle getting caught on rock while climbing in a chimney and being lifted to a point where it can loosen!
Granted. This wasn't, however, what the other guy was talking about - he was referring to it coming loose whilst climbing.
Truly ludicrous statements. Even when loosened, your harness shouldn't be even close to making it's way over your hip bones. Also, what harness have you been using to gain these charming observations from - let's have some real statistics here. I'd be very interested to know how they are somehow a 'bitch' to tighten, despite the wide majority of climbers finding it extremely easy.
"Truly ludicrous statements. Even when loosened, your harness shouldn't be even close to making it's way over your hip bones. Also, what harness have you been using to gain these charming observations from - let's have some real statistics here. I'd be very interested to know how they are somehow a 'bitch' to tighten, despite the wide majority of climbers finding it extremely easy."
They get harder to tighten as they wear, but they aren't *hard* to tighten in any form. And FWIW, it's only the leg loops I've found to work loose when walking, which isn't surprising as those are the bits doing the moving.
Having just bought a new one, I am quite pleased with how much more easily it adjusts than my old one (even when new), so they're still improving.
I definitely agree with you on the subject of wear - obviously, this is not something that can be considered a design flaw. I agree that leg loops can work loose, but it's not like they're going to drop what with the rear straps holding them up, and there's no harm in them being a little loose anyway.
Never had a problem with mine and its had heavy use and had some decent falls in it at the climbing wall.
Can't say i've ever felt unsafe climbing in it either. I think its daft using a prussik on a leg loop when the same thing can be done on the belay loop with a knotted 120cm sling larks footed as a cowstail.
If you have the prussic on the belay loop your extension sling can get into contact with the prussic and loosen it. Best keeping it out in 'free space ‘on the leg loop. With the abseil device on an extension there is no way it can get to the plate.
Some manufacturers have extra little loops on the legs for a prussic loop biner.
I have not had a problem with my last 2 zip lock DMM harnesses
Big words little brain. Think about it, every time you put on or take off your harness it goes past your hip bones. Magic? No, pure physics. Once the diameter of the swami belt is equal or bigger than the diameter of your hips gravity does the work aided by a few kilos of metalware and nylon ropes swinging and pulling. I can mail you a powerpoint presentation with pictures and drawings if that helps.
Off the top of my head, Petzl Corax, Petzl Calidris, Petzl Navaho Mk1, Petzl Navaho mk2, BD Momentum, SAR Harrier and SAR Raptor. Unfortunately is getting increasingly hard to avoid these buckles...
I think the problem may be that unfortunately i only have 2 hands. So when i'm on the belay on pitch 5 and the harness tries to go Brooklyn gansta style on me because the damned buckles have loosened yet again, one hand is used to pull HARD on the the webbing while the other one has to multitask in lifting the whole rack and harness in position from behind, while giving enough tension that the webbing grinds through without the whole thing simply twisting about and giving me wedgies or ending up with the harness back to front.
The whole thing turns into a weird dance of pulling the thing up, bringing the hand to the front, take in a bit of webbing before everything slides back down, lift it again and repeat ad nauseum, which makes it all kind of awkward if not downright comedy.
Every zip lock harness I've owned has slowly loosened during the day. I've owned 4 by 3 different manufacturers. Its normally the waist belt that I find loosens the quickest.
> Granted. This wasn't, however, what the other guy was talking about - he was referring to it coming loose whilst climbing.
I agree - let's have some real statistics on your claim 'the wide majority of climbers finding it extremely easy'.
The waist belt too, not dangerous really, just a pain in the arse.
I had one of the early quicklock buckles on a harness I was using in the alps, and the bloody thing kept coming loose and the harness slipping down. Once it had happened a few times I got in the habit of tightening the buckle every few minutes. Ditched the harness before the flight home and stuck with thread back for a long time. I've since used more modern versions without problems, but still prefer thread back for winter and mountains.
This happened to few a few times and some years ago it suddenly occurred to me 'Why TF do I bother with adjustable leg loops for summer rock?'
After that epiphany, the problem is completely solved. Adjustable leg loops are for winter.
Even when loosened, your harness shouldn't be even close to making it's way over your hip bones.
Pardon?! Surely they should?! My problem is that my current one DOESNT fit over my hips, so I have to undo the stupid zip lock buckle to put it on, and then rethread the zip lock! It is as tight as it will go once it is on my waist, but just doesn't fit over my hips to get there. Pain in the neck, and is more hassle than traditional buckles.
I'm confused. Do you put it on over your head?
No, I undo it, I said that! I take the undone waist belt, put it round my waist then rethread the zip lock buckle.
Sounds like you bought the wrong size?
I found the same thing happening, so I put a piece of tape next of the buckle to monitor by how much it gets loose. I then realised that it was actually my waist narrowing from loosing water during the day, the buckle did not get loose by one mm !
hmmm I don't think that is what is going on with me I drink a lot of water climbing and eat quite a lot of food!. I find abseiling and belaying with the anchors to the side (so that it rotates my tie in point) make the belt slip the most.
Are you sure the tape just wasn't being push down the buckle as it slipped?
heres a statistic for you, my last 3 harnesses have been zip lock and have had a 100% record of not coming loose ever or being difficult to tighten.
My wife was quite lucky in finding one she didn't have to undo. Harnesses are fitted to the waist, not the hips..... I gather ladies often have this problem.
Possibly, or maybe the manufacturer doesn't make the "right" size - I've got a small waist and large hips, and find it hard to get harnesses to fit. Managed a ziplock that does work, but only by getting the Petzl one that covers a huge size range.
Similarly, it's the reason I always use harnesses with adjustable leg loops, even for the walls or summer cragging - I've yet to find one with fixed legs that fits.
I would expect to have a similar problem as I have quite big thighs.
I went for that harness as well, by the way (just bought a new one, just the new version of the same one). I like the way it adjusts on both sides.
I and many of my climbing partners use ziplock harnesses and although none of us have ever experienced a failure we all experience some slippage/loosening to some degree throughout the course of a day’s climbing. This does mean that I now regularly check and adjust my harness throughout the day which is probably not a bad thing to do regardless of the type of harness you wear but when I was looking for a separate light weight harness specifically for sports climbing I chose a thread back harness as I do feel more secure in them. Although this could be due to my dinky size and the fact I wear a small harness cranked in as far as it will go?
Apologies, bad phrasing on my part. I meant partially loosened, not fully. I'm sure that given the problems you personally have with getting a harness over your hips, you can appreciate that there is a fairly sizeable disparity between the tightness of the harness on the waist, and how much looser it needs to be in order to slip over the hips. So even when loosened a little by movement, it still shouldn't be loose enough to move over the wearers hips.
Never had a problem with it myself on the belay loop and its the only method i've ever used.
I couldn't buy any bigger, as the waist is at its tightest on me. I just have curves, I realise many manufacturers (of many things, not just harnesses) don't seem to believe that women have curves!
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