Generally speaking, athletes, rescuers, and workers use harnesses to climb or access hard-to-reach areas. However, if there’s none at hand during a critical situation, they may need to make an emergency rope harness.
That said, climbing is inherently risky. While learning how to make a safety harness can be useful, we do not recommend taking this tutorial if you have no experience or training in mountaineering, rescue, or fall protection.
Table of Contents
Step-by-step to Make a Safety Harness
Method #1: Make a simple rope harness
What to prepare:
- 1 climbing rope that is four times the length of one arm
- A carabiner
- A thick chain with a carabiner on one end
Step 1: Tie both ends with a water knot
- To make a water knot, tie an overhand knot on one end of the rope.
- Take the other end of the rope, passing it through the first knot.
- Pull the rope and follow the opposite direction of the overhand knot.
- Tighten the water knot by pulling both sides of the rope.
Step 2: Wear the rope harness
- Insert the rope into the carabiner.
- Hold your carabiner with one hand in front and use the other to wrap the rope around your leg.
- Pull the rope at the back toward the front and clip it into the carabiner.
- Drag the rope upward to the crotch.
- Now that the rope is wrapped twice around your leg, grab the top loop and pull it while ensuring that the carabiner stays in your front.
- As you are holding the rope, take it around your waist to your front. Hook the loop to the carabiner.
- As a result, you should have the rope climbing harness around your waist and both legs while the carabiner remains in your front.
- Hook one end of the chain to the carabiner attached to the rope around your body.
- Hook the chain’s carabiner to your rope. This will allow you to sit comfortably on your harness.
Method #2: Make a body rope harness
The instructions below will show how to make a chest harness out of rope, as well as a waist harness. While they can work separately, you can combine them to create a full-body harness.
What to prepare:
- Rope (or webbing) #1: twice the length of your arms’ span
- Rope (or webbing) #2: more than thrice the length of the span of your arms
- A pen (optional)
Step 1: Tie the rope to the carabiner
- Grab a portion of the rope and create a loop.
- Insert your thumb and pointer finger into the loop.
- Move each finger apart, then grab the sides of the loop and pull. This will create two loops with each finger.
- Use your hands to hold the top side of each loop, then twist both inwards 2-3 times.
- After that, insert the carabiner into both loops and pull them to tighten the rope.
- Do the same method on the other end of the rope and connect them to each side of the carabiner.
Step 2: Wearing the DIY climbing harness for the chest
- With both of your hands holding the rope, step into it so your body is within the loop.
- Twist the sides you are holding onto to create loops your hands should pass through.
Your hands and your torso should be in their respective loops, and the carabiner should be in the front and center.
- With one hand, take the loop on your opposite hand. Pull it and slip your head through it. Repeat the process with the other side.
- Grab your carabiner and clip the portion of the rope that intersects.
Note that you can also attach a carabiner on the back if you need to be lowered with your face facing down.
Step 3: Tie a climbing harness out of rope for the waist
- To make a harness out of webbing, take Rope #2.
- Measure the rope that spans twice the length of the span of your arms spread apart. Mark this area with a pen, or jeep holding it so you know where it is.
- In this position, you should be holding one side with a loop while the other with the rope’s end and its excess draping over.
- Create a water knot with the rope’s end that you’re holding and the area that you marked earlier.
- Once you tie the knot, ensure that one of the rope’s tails is as long as the distance between your thumb and pinky finger spread apart.
- The other rope’s end will be longer. Measure it with the span of your arms and tie another knot towards the end.
- Just make a loop with one and then twist it downward. You should form another look through which the first loop should pass. Then tighten it.
Step 4: Put the rope onto your waist
- With each hand holding each knot, raise the rope and lay them on your shoulders temporarily.
- Bend your knees to squat and grab the loop between your legs upward.
- Take one of the rope’s ends on your shoulders. Pass it through the loop between your legs, then pull it up. You can use your teeth to hold it for now.
- Repeat the process with the other end of the rope.
- Pull the left end of the rope toward your right side, passing through your back. Do the same with the right end of the string.
- Connect the loops on the knots and the webbing around with the carabiner from your chest harness.
In case you have no carabiner at hand, you can still fashion a safety harness with a rope by making a Swiss seat. However, note that we still recommend opting for methods that utilize a carabiner, as it can reduce friction, which can cut through the rope.
Check out the video below to learn how to tie a harness out of rope.
Things You Can Use to Make a Safety Harness
Whether it’s a rope harness for tree climbing or a homemade safety harness, you can use a single rope or a double-length sling designed for climbing. You can also make a harness out of a webbing.
Climbing, accessing tight spaces, and rescuing are dangerous even for professionals. As shown above, the instructions on how to make a safety harness with ropes and harnesses are pretty easy.
Nevertheless, the only time you can make a harness out of a rope or webbing is during an emergency—and it should be your last resort!
Other safety harness tips:
- Did you put on a safety harness properly? Here’s how!
- When should a safety harness be replaced?
- The easiest way to clean your safety harness.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.