Kid’s harnesses are often notorious for being a Sisyphean task of working through a maze of webbing, buckles and adjustments, untwisting leg loops and trying to figure out the front from the back, and the top from the bottom. Meanwhile, your kid is growing impatient and about to start free soloing above a garden of cacti.
Thankfully, Edelrid has introduced a refreshing new design in kid’s harnesses with the Fraggle: a contoured, padded and simple harness that is easy to use and offers high performance.
Contoured Shape – The Fraggle is contoured to fit kids well, just as we expect our adult harnesses to be built for comfort and function. Instead of flat webbing sewn together, the Fraggle has wide, contoured leg loops that offer support for long climbing or other roped activities, like swinging. The chest harness is similarly contoured to fit a real body.
The contoured shape helps the harness maintain its shape so that it comes out of your pack ready to climb and easy to put on. There’s nothing like pulling your kid’s harness out to find a ball of webbing that looks like Christmas lights packaged by an angry elf. Getting that ball of webbing ready to climb can be a full time job. Not so with the Fraggle.
Padding – I never understood how kids harnesses traditionally left out all the padding so that kids’ legs would be cut into by flat, relatively narrow webbing. The Fraggle provides padding and a wide shape in the areas where it needs to be, making the harness supremely comfortable.
Simplicity – Instead of a maze of straps and buckles to sort through, there are two buckles for adjustment. My favorite part of the design is how Edelrid made the webbing on the chest harness run through the padding on the back so you pull the webbing through to adjust and are left with just two buckles to cinch down. Initially, it took me a few minutes to figure this out but once I had it down it made the harness easy to use every time.
The harness is so simple my three year old can easily put it on and off herself, without having twisted leg loops or something backwards. She was initially reluctant to use a different harness, but after she experienced the independence of putting on her harness herself, she never looked back. As a parent, it also makes my time much more enjoyable to be able to have my kid put their own harness on.
Adjustable Leg Loops – There is no adjustment to the leg loops. I have a pint-sized 3 year old who worked well in this harness other than the leg loops, which are too big for her tiny legs. I wish there was some mechanism for adjustment built in, as they are big enough that she won’t fit snugly into them anytime soon, so I am guessing other kids are having the same issue. As much as I love the simplicity of two buckles for adjustment, I wish there was a third buckle for the leg loops.
Straps From Leg Loops to Chest Harness – There are no straps connecting the back of the leg loops to the back of the chest harness. Adult harnesses have straps, often with a buckle or hook that is removable, that keep the leg loops connected to the waist belt in the back. If you’ve ever climbed a big wall or long route, you’ve probably used this feature to “drop your drawers” and do your business. Without a rear connection, I felt like the leg loops had an unnecessary amount of movement to them. I would prefer to have the option to cinch down a rear strap to keep all parts of the harness snug.
For our family, climbing is an activity like going to the park, and our three year old has already spent over half her life climbing. Hence, it means a lot to us to have good, functional equipment. The Edelrid Fraggle quickly demonstrated itself to be superior to all the other kids’ harnesses we have used. The comfort and simplicity of the Fraggle has made climbing with kids easier and more enjoyable and for that, the harness has incredible value.
Retail is $59.95, more info and tech specs on the Edelrid website.
Disclaimer: Wait! Do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, this product was provided to SplitterChoss.com for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!
Mike Schneiter is the owner of Glenwood Climbing Guides.