Petzl Kids Macchu and Body Harness
29th Jul 2015
I've written a few reviews recently on kids kit and the importance of putting them in the right sized stuff. Arguably it's never more important than clmbing harnesses as there's a genuine safety element to them. Putting a kid in an adult harness just doesn't cut it as it almost certainly won't do up tight enough around the waist or legs meaning that if they are flipped upside down for any reason there's a chance they could fall out. Granted it's not a horror story you hear of, but for the sake of a few quid I'd say it's a worthy investment. On top of that it shows your kids that you value their needs and want them to enjoy climbing. It send the right messages.
Our oldest recently upgraded from a full body harness to a proper kids sit harness when he started doing some proper climbing competitions. This then prompted our youngest to want a similar upgrade! He's only six and quite little so I was worried that even with a kids harness there might be a danger of him slipping out if tipped upside down, so as a compromise we got him a sit harness and a matching chest harness. As he gets older and his hips start to fill out a little the plan is to phase out the chest harness.
The items in question are both by Petzl who have a long tradition of producing kit for small folk. The harness is a Macchu, and the chest harness is actually called a Body Harness. The sit harness arrived in a fairly lurid pink (termed raspberry) which we've managed to sell as red. Not sure why they make harnesses colours gender specific, but there you go. It also comes in a more unisex orange. It seems pretty light by virtue of the fact that it is so small! Esentially it's very much a miniature version of an adult harness, with a belay loop - coloured green so that it's easy to visually check that you kid has clipped into the right loop if belaying - two gear loops (no need for more as the likelihood of them leading with a big trad rack is pretty slim for the time being, adjustable leg loops with a releasable elasticated straps on the rear to help untangle an inverted harness when you take it out of your bag, and double back buckles. One cute feature that I've not seen on many adult harnesses is a double buckle system, both on the front, which means that you can always adjust things so that the tie in loops are dead central, something clearly designed so that as the kid grows older and bigger the attachment point doesn't drift around the waist (you'll have noticed if you ever had put an adult harness on a kid the buckle ends up right around by the hip bone). He's now used it half a dozen times and has yet to complain of any discomfort, even whilst being lowered a hundred feet into St Govan's at Pembroke last weekend. A definite thumbs up. RRP is £45 which for a piece of safety kit that is likely to last betwen 5 and 10 years is a snip.
The Body / Chest harness is a thoroughly cute little number. It has a vest-like feel to it, with two reasonably rigid shoulder straps that look and feel much like rucksak straps, but with a weight bearing taped slin sewn into them. These straps then spread into a large H shaped back panel which helps to evenly distribute the weight around the torso. There's a double back safety buckle on each strap and also a belay-loop-like tie in point on each side which makes it really easy to clip together with the sit harness below. The taped sling on each side runs freely through the H shaped panel meaning you can position the buckle and the tie in loop at the right height for the child. There's a little picture and a logo on the back panel to make sure that you put it on the right way up. Combined with the sit harness he was snug as anything and I had no qualms whatsoever lowering him into the abyss and belaying him back up. Retails at £24.99 which again is well worth paying for the piece of mind to know that your child isn;'t going so slip out of their harness. It seems to be only available in orange and weighs 150g
Note that if you are unsure how best to connect the two items together there are some instructions on the Petzl website. You can follow Petzl on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube