30 year old harness never used

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 AnnaMouse 25 Feb 2024

Looking for some advice. I have a Wild Country harness bought in the 90’s, never used. Should I chuck it rather than pass it on? it’s been kept in the dry.

Also some unused boots of similar age.

I hate wasting stuff but obviously wouldn’t want to offer risky kit.

thanks for any opinions 

 Tony the Blade 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Give it away... to a museum! 

I'm being flippant but I'm afraid it's not only past its best, it's dangerous. I learnt this when I joined a climbing club a couple of years ago and turned up with my old Troll harness... the group leader put a knife through it.

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 Alex Riley 25 Feb 2024
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Don't chuck it, send it to the BMC/DMM/someone to strength test it. 

 Tony the Blade 25 Feb 2024
In reply to Alex Riley:

> Don't chuck it, send it to the BMC/DMM/someone to strength test it. 

Good idea, that way you'll know for certain that's it's either usable or not. 

 JimR 25 Feb 2024
In reply to Tony the Blade:

To be fair if you put a knife through a new harness then it’ll fail as well. My understanding is that it is wear or exposure to chemicals that weakens., age alone is not a major factor. I wonder how many people are still using the same seatbelts on 30 yo cars!

1
 MG 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

It will be formally out of date but almost certainly in fact entirely functional and safe. I wouldn't give it to anyone but would happily use it myself 

4
 bouldery bits 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Personally, I wouldn't because I'll be on that Red point burn, pulling through the crux and, in the back of mind, they'll be that tiny, whispering doubt - 'is it safe?'

It may alter the experience in a way I might not welcome. 

Ofcourse, this is entirely my personal view on the matter. 

That feeling would be worse watching someone else using kit I'd gifted them. Much worse. 

Post edited at 19:47
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 spenser 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

The boots will be useable, although the rubber may behave a bit differently due to aging/ perishing.

The manufacturer for the harness (and me as the chair of BMC Technical committee) would both advise you to dispose of the harness and not to climb in it. You can send it off to someone like Scavenger for the fabric to be repurposed, they specifically sell recycled harness belts (although you could of course just chop the connections to the leg straps off and repurpose it as a belt for holding your trousers up yourself).

https://madebyscavenger.com/collections/harness-belts/products/harness-belt...

7
 Tricky Dicky 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

A lot of climbing walls won't let you climb in a harness that is less than 5 or 10 years old (depending on their insurance policy), regardless of whether the harness has any wear etc....

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 GCO 25 Feb 2024
In reply to bouldery bits:

I had a really nice and quite expensive Petzl harness, bought in the 90s and hardly used before I gave up climbing. It was stored well, out of the light etc. Anyway, I started climbing again about five years ago and confidently stepped into it as I headed up some vdiff on Tryfan. Much to my surprise, all my wires, cams and quick draws fell on to the ground before I was two metres up the first pitch. The gear loops had all perished. 
 

it did make me wonder about the integrity of the stitching in particular, so I retired it straight away. Oh, I fashioned a harness out of two slings and completed the route, by the way.

1
 Hooo 25 Feb 2024
In reply to Tricky Dicky:

I climbed at my local wall for quite a while in an ancient Troll harness, before a staff member finally spotted it and said that since that model of harness hadn't been manufactured for over 25 years he wasn't going to let me use it any more. 

5
 Mr Lopez 25 Feb 2024
In reply to spenser:

> The manufacturer for the harness (and me as the chair of BMC Technical committee) would both advise you to dispose of the harness and not to climb in it.

As the chair of BMC Technical committee, is there a reason for your advising for the disposal of the harness other than"the manufacturer says so"?

As in, are there any studies or test you guys have done or know of, that might show a degradation of nylon when unused and in storage? Curious as any test I have seen show no such degradation exists. (In this particular context i mean)

Post edited at 21:29
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 OP AnnaMouse 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Thanks for the advice, seems it’s probably best for peace of mind to chuck it, I’m sure it’s not worth sending away to be strength tested.

I should have actually done some climbing in it.

In reply to Mr Lopez:

> As in, are there any studies or test you guys have done or know of, that might show a degradation of nylon when unused and in storage?

Yes, I'm a big fan of evidence-based regulation...

 Snyggapa 25 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

I had a 30 year old harness tested a couple of years ago. Will try and find the threads and post links.

Edit - found it 

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/gear/update_30_year_old_harness_test_resu...

Post edited at 22:58
 spenser 25 Feb 2024
In reply to Mr Lopez:

I can't responsibly recommend to use a product outside the manufacturer's design recommendation without evidence that it can be done safely. This would require a mix of design documentation and studies of material degradation over an extended period of time, as a committee we don't have access to the design documentation for current products, let alone 30 year old products. The environment it's been stored in would also affect the degradation rate of the material. I know that's probably a frustrating answer, but the legal consequences for me (as someone easily identifiable as a chartered engineer) of giving unevidenced technical advice that gets someone hurt aren't particularly appealing. 

Harnesses will typically accrue wear over time from abrasion on rock and UV Exposure, they can reduce the service life of a harness to less than the 5-10 years which is typically recommended as the maximum. A harness with a 10 year design life that has been unused, and appropriately stored, for 9 years and 364 days will still be OK to climb in (or the manufacturer would have given it a shorter design life), I'd happily use it on 10 years and 1 day, but doing so would be accepting a reduction in the designed safety margins of the product. How much of that safety margin you are comfortable with being eroded is a personal choice that affects the safety of yourself and your climbing partner. I've definitely been belayed by someone wearing a 20+ year old harness before, but I wouldn't choose to push it on a regular basis while being belayed on, or wearing an old harness.

3
 Godwin 26 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

I would you give 10 out of 10, except for the silly user name.

13
 tew 26 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

The oldest harness I own was unused until it became mine. It's approximately 20 years old.

It's now just used for adding or removing weight when fingerboarding. I wouldn't risk doing anything else on it

1
 boriselbrus 26 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Given that Decathlon will sell you a perfectly functional harness for £35, you'd have to value the life of the person using the 30 year old harness at less than that. 

I too hate waste, but your old harness is landfill. 

10
 Abu777 26 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Personally, I would just chuck it. Potential benefit is having a useable harness for free, saving £60 or so, but potential risk is it fails when the climber falls and they die. Chances of that happening are probably small, but basically unknown, so it's just not worth the risk for me.

2
 TobyA 26 Feb 2024
In reply to boriselbrus:

> I too hate waste, but your old harness is landfill. 

Maybe not fully. Not long ago, I found my old Wild Country harness - it must have been a bit over 20 years old. Anyway, the way harnesses were made back then meant I could easily snip away the main webbing belt from the padding behind it, and with very little work came up with cool retro webbing belt to hold my jeans up with!

1
 Kamil Dworak 26 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

I was replacing old slings, harness, etc until I seen this video, recommended to see it.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k9yZ7-aO6jE&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR...

 Dave Todd 26 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

This thread has prompted me to consider the age of my harness (which I currently use 2 or 3 times per week).  It's a Black Diamond Momentum from 2005 - I think I'll treat myself to a new harness...

 LastBoyScout 26 Feb 2024
In reply to Dave Todd:

> This thread has prompted me to consider the age of my harness (which I currently use 2 or 3 times per week).  It's a Black Diamond Momentum from 2005 - I think I'll treat myself to a new harness...

Funnily enough, I finally gave in and bought a new harness last month, finally replacing my old 2, which were around 20 years old. Both looked after and relatively little use (very occasional in the last 10 years), but £50 is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

One of the reasons I'd held onto them for so long was they had the old double-back buckles - I bought the second one as a spare when these were being phased out. I still don't like the slide buckles and would have replaced the harness sooner if they were still doing a back-threaded buckle version!

 spenser 26 Feb 2024
In reply to LastBoyScout:

I think there are a couple of models out there still:

https://bananafingers.co.uk/black-diamond-big-gun?gad_source=1&gclid=Cj...

That is of course a rather substantial harness for general climbing use, but depending on how much you like double back buckles the compromise may be worth it for you. Possibly worth calling up one of the companies which have a really broad harness range to find out if there are any more conventional (i.e. none centre style) harnesses still using double back buckles.

In reply to JimR:

> To be fair if you put a knife through a new harness then it’ll fail as well. My understanding is that it is wear or exposure to chemicals that weakens., age alone is not a major factor. I wonder how many people are still using the same seatbelts on 30 yo cars!

UV exposure too.

1
In reply to AnnaMouse:

In a previous existence I used to occasionally clamber up onto the rooves of lighthouses as part of my job - we replaced the fall arrest harnesses every 5 years, this is the industry standard. The fall arrest industry is very risk and litigation averse, but 30 years is perhaps stretching the limits a bit!

Post edited at 18:28
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 doughobbs 27 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

That's still new in caving circles! 😆

In reply to AnnaMouse:

Please can I have it/buy it?

For historical purposes!

 andyb211 27 Feb 2024
In reply to bouldery bits:

Depends who you give it too! 😈☠

 john arran 27 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Instead of asking what people think, and getting largely gut reaction responses based on little or no specific knowledge, I'd be asking what it is about an old harness that might cause it not to be safe after a good few years.

Manufacturers will give a life expectancy, but that will usually factor in at least light usage during that time, and in any case it's hardly in their interests to discourage you from replacing it.

Chemical damage to nylon goods is often quoted as a danger, but it may be that you're pretty sure from how it's been stored that that hasn't been a factor.

UV damage to nylon goods was once a major factor, but AFAIK harness nylon has been UV stabilised since the 80s and UV has since been a fairly negligible factor - somebody please correct me if that's not true. In any case, if it's been stored indoors that's not a factor anyway.

So by what mechanism could a perfectly good harness degrade dangerously while in storage?

 mbh 27 Feb 2024
In reply to john arran:

>So by what mechanism could a perfectly good harness degrade dangerously while in storage?

Mice and rats (I almost wrote Rice and mats!) quite possibly, unless the harness has been kept in a sealed container, but even then...have you seen what rats can chew through when they have a mind to? That said, any damage due to them should be clear to see.

3
 CantClimbTom 27 Feb 2024
In reply to bouldery bits:

If you have doubts like that, you need to wear a second harness over the top for redundancy

 David Alcock 27 Feb 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

I still have a 37 year old Troll I happily* use for work positioning on private domestic work. I'd bet it still over clocks 20kN.

* They're just as comfy as some of us might remember. 

In reply to mbh:

Just realised that the night a mouse (literally) broke into my tent at North Lees years ago, I didn't actually think to check my harness in the morning...

 65 28 Feb 2024
In reply to john arran:

Andy Perkins (who did a PhD to do with fabric qualities/wear etc) wrote a good article about this many years ago in one of the mags. I'm not going to quote anything as it was a while ago, my memory is terrible and I don't want to accidentally misrepresent him, but it would be useful reading for the OP if it can be tracked down. 

I have a very comfy Black Diamond harness dating from about 1995, it's had about a years regular use and one sizeable lob. It's in good nick, no visual signs of wear and I'd still use it. I also have an old DMM belt dating to  c.1990, I wouldn't use that mainly as it seems to have shrunk...

Edit: OP: if in doubt, buy a new one. As someone said further up the thread, you don't want to be worrying about this while trying to keep your head together when you're miles above your last runner. I personally absolutely wouldn't give it to anyone else.

Post edited at 08:41
 LastBoyScout 28 Feb 2024
In reply to spenser:

That is, indeed, a beast!

 CantClimbTom 28 Feb 2024
In reply to David Alcock:

I threw out an ancient troll RAT harness a couple of years ago, was in perfect condition (give it take some paint on it etc). I regretted doing that since 😭 should've kept it! 

 Kayvon 01 Mar 2024
In reply to Alex Riley:

Would've been great if had a British HowNOT2

https://www.youtube.com/@HowNOT2

 nufkin 02 Mar 2024
In reply to john arran:

> So by what mechanism could a perfectly good harness degrade dangerously while in storage?

Entropy?

 Little Rascal 03 Mar 2024
In reply to AnnaMouse:

Use it for fingerboarding

Post edited at 19:54

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