Hands-on Gear Review

Yates Shield Harness Review

Yates Shield Harness
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Apr 13, 2010
Price:  $159 List
Pros:  Burly, comfortable, lots of places to clip things.
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, maybe too many gear loops.
Manufacturer:   Yates

Our Verdict

The Yates Shield is the burliest big wall harness we tested. It is the harness you see many true modern Yosemite wall rats using. Everything about it — buckles, webbing, and padding — is stout. The Yates Shield Harness can be difficult to find at major retailers; if you're in search of a big wall harness immediately, consider the Metolius Safe Tech Waldo, $119, which wins our Editors' Choice Award.

It has been put through the test on the hardest big wall climbs on El Cap and passed with flying colors. That said, it is the heaviest harness we tested and for many people will be overkill. It is also the most expensive harness we tested. In general, we prefer the Metolius Safe Tech Waldo, which is lighter, less expensive, more comfy, has better gear loops, and two belay loops. But if you are a big wall addict and want the most burly harness on the market, you should check this one out.

Our Analysis and Test Results



This is the burliest harness we know of. When you look at Ammon McNeely's Yates Shield harness after over a hundred days of big wall punishment, it is still going strong. This is because the webbing is two inches wide when many manufacturers use one-inch. Everything that can be reinforced is. The harness is also nearly as comfy as they come. We think the Metolius Waldo is a little more comfortable, but not by much. With two waist buckles, you can always get the belay loop centered.

You can remove the leg loops for sleeping. There is a giant burly haul loop in the back for clipping extras without even looking.

This harness is made in California by a company dedicated to improving big wall gear. They respond to feedback and have great customer service as demonstrated here.


This harness is the heaviest we tested. The two big buckles on the waist and wide webbing really add up. The extra hammer holsters are useful for some, but for others they just add bulk, which makes this harness less comfortable to sleep in and tends to get it hung up in chimneys.

For a harness that has it all, it might be nice if this came with two belay loops. If you order directly from Yates you might be able to ask them to add this.

Best Application

This is for burly multi-day walls. It also would make a great course-setting or rigging harness. Ammon McNeely sets one-day speed record on El Capitan in this harness ever year. That said, when I climb with him on a speed ascent I prefer a lighter harness.


This is the most expensive harness but also the burliest. So the long-term value is there if you climb loads of walls. I have never seen anyone wear one out. You will burn out of wall climbing before you burn this harness out.

Other Versions

Yates Big Wall is the most beefy harness on the market. We think it is a little overkill as it is heavy and takes a while to put on and adjust. But if you want the absolute cushiest harness ever, you should check this one out. Pass The Pitons Pete has spent over 400 days on El Cap in this harness and thinks its the best out there.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: June 7, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Jun 7, 2013 - 04:21pm
Piton Ron · Climber · Toquerville, Utah
When it comes to doing walls, I wouldn't even consider another brand.

Yates makes the best wall harnesses in the world.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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   Jun 7, 2013 - 03:28pm
SoNVclimbing · Sailor · bolder city, NV

disclaimer: I have climbed lots of long and short trad routes with this harness for many years now. I do not have big wall experience.

I like the harness because it is uber comfy and burly. I like all the gear loops because i rack all gear on my harness and do not use shoulder slings. I also like the double back buckles as opposed to the speed buckles even though they are a pita to do sometimes.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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