What are suitable belts / harnesses for canyoning and / or caving?
Canyoning Seat Belts / Harness
Canyoning is pretty tough for the equipment. Many canyons involve rock-hopping, swimming, sliding down rocks and logs, and bush-bashing, so you'll need a harness that's up to the task.
This is where a special canyoning belt is perfect. Canyoning hip belts have replaceable seat-seat protectors (Spanck Protects) designed to withstand the many rocks you encounter, so they will protect your wetsuit from damage and that large seat protector is much more comfortable than those thin leg loops on a climbing harness.
If you are an avid canyoner, a standard canyoning belt such as the Rock Empire Canyon, Edelrid Irupu or Petzl Canyon Club Harness is a good choice. On the other hand, if you can't get enough of canyoning and hit the road every weekend, the Petzl Canyon Guide harness is the goldel for you.
If you're an avid abseiler or caver it's likely you'll have a fairly robust harness that will suffice, but leg loops will be the first to wear out and fail.
Caving harnesses come as two separate parts, a sit harness and a chest harness, and must be used together.
Hip seat belts are lightweight, durable and simple. They meet in the middle using a D-shaped maillon that holds all your SRT gear, and crucially, the chest jammer close to your center of gravity meaning you're in the most efficient position to climb a rope . The Petzl Superavanti and the Petzl Fractio are highly adjustable and come in two sizes so will fit all cavers, with the fractio having an extra waistband for lower back support but keeping the chest jammer/chest ascender in a slightly less efficient position.
Caving Hip seat belts should never be used for climbing. The low attachment point (maillon) means that you are more likely to end up upside down in the event of a fall and in this situation increases the risk of the belt coming loose because it is not around the narrowest part of your waist. If you're only using a ladder and lifeline (i.e. no SRT), it's wise to go for a simple alpine-style climbing harness instead.
Your lap seat belt must be combined with a chest belt. These are usually not designed to be worn and come in a few different styles. They all sit over your shoulders and loop through the top hole in the Petzl roll. This allows the croll to move up the rope while standing upright in your foot loop. They are all highly adjustable - useful for different caving sizes and to adjust between loose (generally bimbling in the cave) and tight (going back up the rope).
For a detailed description of belts and harnesses see: What is the difference between a climbing belt, canyon belt, caving belt, seat belt, hip belt and integral belt?
Overview Knowledge base General canyoning and caving equipment : Go back