The best mast climbing gear for sailors isn't necessarily anything fancy and marinised with a premium price tag, instead you can pick up the best mast climbing gear from a regular high street store with a climbing department. This buyers guide has all the gear for climbing a mast solo, double handed or fully crewed.
The best mast climbing gear for solo sailors or double handed sailors can be found in some well known high street stores and not necessarily in a chandlery.
This buyers guide curates all the gear you might need with plenty of alternative options to suit individual tastes and needs.
If you are unsure how to climb a mast on your own or with a short handed team of two, then you can read how to do that in my other article explaining in a step by step guide how to climb a mast, using some of the gear in this buyers guide.
Best Mast climbing gear: Essential buyer’s guide
Harnesses and Bosun’s Chairs
Petzl Adjama Men’s Climbing Harness
Leg loops adjustable with doubleback buckles, to adapt to different body types and to seasonal clothing. Capacity to carry large amount of gear.
- 5 gear loops
- 460g (s) – 545g (large)
£65 / $79.95
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DMM Vixen Women’s Climbing Harness
This is the harness I used in the video. It is designed for women. I’ve used it for about 8 years and it is still in great condition. It comes in sizes XS to L. I bought the L to fit over my foulies or larger clothes, but it is a little big when wearing just light form fitting clothes. Ideally I would get a smaller sized harness for that purpose.
- 5 gear loops
- 345g (xs) – 410g (large)
Petzl Aquila Men’s Climbing Harness
Maximum comfort for long suspensions and for larger body types. The wide, comfortable waistbelt is ideal for all body types and adjustable leg loops adapt to clothing for climbing in any season.
- 2 slots for caritool holder
- 4 gear loops
- 320g (xs) – 425g (xl)
£95.65 / $134.95
Ocun Neon Lady Climbing Harness
Designed specifically for the female anatomy, the Ocun Neon Lady is extremely light, yet provides plenty of comfort for longer climbs or practicing difficult moves or for climbing a mast when you’re being slung about by waves and movement..
- Padded belt and leg loops with breathable sandwich design
- 4 gear loops
- 330g (xs) – 375g (large)
Lalizas Bonsun’s Chair
Rigid seat, basic bosun’s chair seen on many boats around the world. I have used this one a lot. The only niggle I have with it is the hard metal triangles used for attaching to the halyard have bruised the middle of my chest when the push back while working aloft. I make sure I wear good padding when I use it now, and this may not affect taller people. I keep using it because the hard seat suits me and it’s better than a wooden plank with carpet stapled to it. Combine this with a harness when working aloft on a lengthy job.
- tool pockets and loops
- rigid seat
- no frills but does the job
Lalizas Professional Bosun’s Chair
A comfortable bosun’s chair with secure back to avoid slipping through. Good tool storage onboard and tool loops. I’ve used this one on various boats over the years including in the opening picture to this article. It always inspires confidence and comfort.
- Used by many professional riggers
- Comfortable for lengthy spells
- Lots of tool storage
Petzl Ascension Ascender
This is the ascender I use on my own climbing gear. I use a left handed version because I am right hand dominant and it’s easier for me to slide the ascender up with my left hand while pulling up on the lazy line with my right hand.
- line size: 8mm – 13mm
- left or right handed versions
£46.76 / $87.07
Climbing Technology Quick Up+ Ascender
The easy-to-use Quick Up+ ascender from Climbing Technology comes with an ergonomic, glove-friendly grip that makes it a solid option for fixed-rope ascents.
- line size: 8mm – 13mm
- left or right hand versions
Petzl Gri Gri +
This belay device can be used with all single ropes (optimised for 8.9 to 10.5 mm diameter ropes) and is equipped with an assisted breaking function. Suitable for beginner mast climbers to expert riggers.
- line size: 8.9mm – 10.5mm
£90.86 / $129.95
This works in a similar way to the GriGri but the line feeds in a straight line rather than from the side. Some people prefer this to avoid their lines becoming twisted.
- line size: 8.6mm to 10.2mm
- antipanic auto clutch engagement
No moving parts, the Petzle Reverso is a simple belay device that can be more easily put on or taken off a line as you go. You push a bight of rope through one of the apertures and clip a carabiner through to act as the friction turn. A really handy bit of a kit.
- line size 8.5mm to 10.5mm
- very simple device with little to go wrong.
Grivel Mega K6N Screw Lock Snap Hook
For belaying and rappelling. It is designed for use with both single and double ropes.
I use two of these in my solo mast climb gear. One is used from the bottom of the ascender to hold the footloop and personal lanyard and the other is used on the top of the ascender to work as a reduction turning point for the belay lazy line.
- 7000-series aluminum
Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate Carabiner
Designed specifically for belaying, the GridLock isolates the belay loop behind its uniquely shaped gate, thereby keeping the carabiner in its proper orientation.
I use two of these carabiners, both from my harness. The anti-crossloading design is reassuring as the repeated loading and unloading of both the belay and ascender has a tendency to make standard carabiners rotate and there’s a high risk of crossloading when solo rappelling.
- Anti cross load design
DMM – Rhino Quicklock – Locking carabiner
For regular users of pulleys or GriGri like belay devices.
I use this carabiner on my prusik line. The horn stops the hitched on line sliding around the carabiner as it is repeatedly adjusted.
- Anti cross load horn
- Quicklock gate
Slings and quickdraws
DMM Dyneema sling
Dyneema has several advantages over traditional nylon webbing – it’s incredibly light and strong, less susceptible to UV degradation and is more abrasion resistant.
I use this sling as my personal lanyard between harness carabiner and the ascender. You need to find a sling that can be adjusted to your own personal reach length. I double this one over to give me the correct length.
- 11mm Dyneema tape
- Strength: 22kN
Multi Chain Evo Daisychain
A daisy chain is a versatile alternative to the above single sling option. You can use this to adjust lengths for multiple applications, which might be ideal if more than one of you will be using it to climb the rig, especially if you’re notably different heights. Obviously there’s a cost implication as it’s four times the costs a basic dyneema sling.
Tensile strength: 24 kN
- Dyeema loops
Beal Nylon Sling
A basic Nylon loop, ideal for use on a multitude of climbing uses, I personally use this as my footloop. I have two of them. They are cow-hitched onto the bottom of my ascender, one is tucked away and the other used for climbing. When I reach working height I use the second loop to stand up with both feet or to wrap one around the mast. It’s very handy to have two of these.
PETZL – Footape – Foot loop sling
- 65g – 20mm webbing
- Minimum length 84cm
- Maximum length 125cm
Black Diamond Quick Draw
Wire gate and solid gate carabiners. quick and easy to clip to a harness and then to secure tools, gear, or yourself to a solid point while you work at height.
- 12cm sling
DMM Quickdraw Shadow
Two solid gates on an 18cm sling. Quickdraws comes in a variety of wire and solid gate styles with a variety of sling lengths. You can buy them in multipacks or individually.
- 18cm sling
£18 (RRP £20)
Don’t forget to use your own judgement when following our advice, or use a professional. Here’s our full disclaimer.
Further reading on mast climbing methods and equipment
Enjoyed reading Climbing a mast – best climbing gear & practical guide?
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