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Gear Guy

Will Sweat Harm My Harness?

We all know that UV harms nylon, but if I sweat in my harness and I weakening it?

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Since we are all such avid readers of your column we know
that even unused nylon deteriorates over time so we should replace
slings, ropes, cords, etc. regularly even if they appear OK. But what
about my harness? How often should I replace it even if inspection
doesn’t yield any frays or wear spots? Also, will sweat cause a harness
to wear out quicker?—Jhgbudd via

Did I write that about nylon? If so, the gear companies must
love me (hey, where is my bag of cash?!) If not, I should say something
to that effect even if the data on properly stored, unused nylon
climbing gear is as skimpy as the coffee-shop girl’s tube top. But the
fact is, we don’t precisely know nylon’s shelf life. Rather, we go off
our feelings, retiring nylon when it seems like it is time, a tactic
that so far seems to have kept everyone reasonably safe, although one of
the all-time greats, Todd Skinner, did die when his worn-out harness

But unless you’ve gotten trapped in a drop of amber,
replacing dated gear that is still in seemingly good condition is a moot
point since anyone who calls himself a climber actually uses his junk
and wears it out long before it gets old and dangerous and needs its
license taken away. Knowing when to toss a harness is simple. Retire a
harness when either the abrasion patch on the strap connecting the leg
loops, or the belay/rappel loop is frayed. You should also replace a
harness that has been exposed to battery acid (car trunks, garage
floors!) or solvents, which means unless you’ve been drinking Drano,
your sweaty crotch juice shouldn’t harm your harness. Gear Guy has