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The Mountain Mama by Mad Rock: A Pregnancy Climbing Harness!

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With my first child I was blessed to have a relatively easy pregnancy, and was delighted that I never had to stop climbing.  My original plan had been to climb until it became uncomfortable and stopped being fun…but that never happened, and my last session ended up being at the gym less than 48 hours before my son was welcomed into the world!  That’s not to say that I was climbing at my pre-pregnancy intensity, or that I didn’t make any changes to my routine.  I listened to my body and took it easy when I needed to, and stopped bouldering and lead climbing.  And more importantly for the purposes of this review, I switched over to a full-body harness at around 20 weeks.  

Why?  First and foremost, the tie-in point is above the belly, which eliminates the risk of harness pressure across the abdomen.  Secondly, the higher tie-in point as well as the shoulder straps keep a pregnant woman from tipping back too far backwards due to a changing center of gravity.

Back then there was no such thing as a “pregnancy harness,” so I had to settle for a regular full-body harness from CAMP.  While it certainly got the job done and kept me safe, it was rather bare bones in the comfort/amenities department.  As a rental harness in a gym or with a zip-lining company, it was a great option, but for someone who was in it several days a week for sometimes hours at a time, it wasn’t a good solution.  

That’s when Mountain Mama entered the scene.  In addition to providing the world’s first-ever technical maternity clothes (click here for my review of those!), this innovative company partnered with Mad Rock to create another first – a harness that not only could be used safely during pregnancy, but was designed specifically with the pregnant body in mind!   

So this past summer, when I found out hubby and I were expecting #2, one of the first people that I called was Teresa Delfin, CEO of Mountain Mama, to talk about how I could get my hands on this harness!  She generously provided me the harness free of charge in exchange for this review, but I assure you that my opinions can’t be bought, and that everything in this post is my honest opinion!

Climbing Hardman (5.11b) at Rocky Face Park at 31 weeks

Climbing Hardman (5.11b) at Rocky Face Park at 31 weeks

What I loved: 
Padded Leg Loops:
 If the uncomfortable webbing from my last full-body harness could be considered a functional sedan, the padded leg loops on this harness would be a cadillac!  Though hanging/lowering in ANY full-body harness is not going to be the most comfortable endeavor, just due to the nature of the position it puts you in, all the padding definitely went a long way to make the process better.  
Red “Inside Out” Marks: Because there is no padded waist as with a regular harness, a full-body harness doesn’t hold it’s shape very well, especially the first few times it’s worn, which can cause a tangled conundrum when you’re trying to put it on.  This harness has a giant red stripe going down the inside of the webbing, which was VERY HELPFUL in getting it on and off quickly (ie, less stress during all those bathroom break moments at the crag!)
Plenty of Room:  This harness is extremely comfortable for a growing belly at all stages.  No pinching or squeezing in unwanted places!
Side Webbing: The webbing comes in at the side very low (around where your waist “would” be if you had one at this point!), which means that despite the fact that you’re sporting straps out the wazoo, you’ve still got plenty of range of motion to reach high when you need to.  

What I Would Change:
Gear Loop:  Having one is DEFINITELY an improvement over a typical full-body harness (which has none), but I really wish this one had one on each side.  Since I wasn’t leading, I didn’t need to carry any gear up with me, but because of that I often ended up going up last on cleaning duty.  Not only would I often fill up that one gear loop when I was only halfway up, but having only one side to rack gear on made for some awkward cleaning stances at times.  My guess is that there’s not a matching gear loop on the right side because that’s the side that has all the adjustment buckles…but if a loop can’t go on the side, a decent solution might be to add a gear loop on the upper chest area of the shoulder straps? 
Buckles:  All the buckles are the quick-adjusting kind that don’t need to be doubled-back.  While this makes for quick and easy adjustments, they tend to loosen up a bit after each use.  (I personally find this to be true with ALL quick-adjust buckles, not just the ones on this harness.)  It’s not a big deal – I just end up having to tighten the leg loops every so often throughout the climbing day.

Overall, I would fully recommend this harness to any of my pregnant friends.  The price tag is not cheap ($120), but if you are looking for the most comfortable experience possible during prenatal climbing, this harness is by FAR your best option.  What about all the other mamas out there?  What harness did everyone else use during pregnancy, and how long were you able to continue climbing?  

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12 Responses to “The Mountain Mama by Mad Rock: A Pregnancy Climbing Harness!”

  1. Meg

    Thanks for the review! I have a question: Since all pregnancies are different and women start showing at different times. How does one determine when might be best to switch to the full body harness?

    Reply

  2. Erica

    Good question – I think it’s a personal decision. Most people I know do it around the 20 week mark – for me I did 20 w/my first, and 22 w/this pregnancy. I think the best indicator is when the waist of your regular harness starts tightening across your abdomen rather than your waist, if that makes sense. My vote is if in doubt, make the switch 🙂

    Reply

    • Meg

      That makes perfect sense, thanks Erica for the advice!

  3. Jan

    Everything about this harness makes me happy except the price. I wish they could have made it for under the $100 mark. With all the $$$ going out the door for pregnancy and baby related things, this harness was one justification I couldn’t make. I work at a climbing gym and couldn’t find a way to make it cheaper even with pro deals. It’s sad because husband doesn’t climb anymore because he feels guilty going without me.

    Reply

    • Hi Jan! Sorry we couldn’t hit the price point for you on this one. Are there any bells and whistles (padded leg loops, gear loop, etc) you’d be willing to do without if we could create a stripped down version for $99? Another option is talking your gym into bringing one in for their rental program.

  4. I’m so glad the harness has been working well for you! You’re right about the gear loop situation. I know it’s awkward to have it on just one side. The way we arrived at that was that we began by setting the price – $120 – making it comparable to other full body harnesses on the market.

    Then we built our wishlist and added as much as we could while keeping it relatively affordable. The gear loop was the last thing to get added when we came in a bit under budget. Two loops would have raised the price and would have been tricky to fit given the adjustment points.

    We’re thinking about adding a smaller size in the next batch, which would be your size. Basically it would mean the ability to cinch down a bit more and have much less excess webbing to deal with. We’d love your feedback on that idea and any other thoughts you might have!

    Reply

  5. Erica

    I think the gym rental option is a great idea, at least for indoor climbing that is – most gyms would only have to have a few on hand. (I mean, how many preggo climbers would be at the gym at the EXACT same time needing a harness?)

    And Teresa, one gear loop is certainly better than none! As a smaller mama, I’d be in total support of having two different sizes!

    Reply

  6. Jennifer

    I climbed with the Mountain Mama harness and I agree with your assessment. The nature of a full body harness creates a few issues, but in the end, the harness kept me and baby safe and climbing! My primary complaint was that the edges of the shoulder straps would dig into my neck when reaching up no matter how I adjusted them, and I refused to give up my strappy tank! My solution was to spend about $4 on two seatbelt fuzzies (the kind that are meant to Velcro onto a seatbelt to protect your neck) and although I looked a little bit like a lumberjack, I was comfy!

    Reply

  7. Hi there. I know I am a little late looking at this post but I am 15 weeks pregnant and found this blog extremely helpful. I have been searching for the mountain mama harness on their site but it says it is out of stock. Do you know anywhere else that sells them so I could purchase one? Also, did you do any iceclimbing while pregnant or know of anyone who has? Thanks for any help! Appreciate it. Great blog.

    Reply

    • Erica

      Hey Michelle,
      congrats on your pregnancy! And thanks for the kind words about the blog – so glad it’s proving to be helpful to you 🙂 As far as the harness goes, i know they run out of them almost as soon as they get more in stock, and I’m pretty sure you can only buy them on their website. But if you follow Mountain Mama on social media, they tend to post when they will be getting more in stock so that you can hop on it pretty quick. I’m sure if you emailed them as well they could give you an idea of when they will be getting more in, and perhaps you could even get on a wait list for them? Hope that helps…
      Erica 🙂

  8. This shows out of stock on the website so I can’t see, but does it only come in one size? I am 15+ weeks but getting close to out growing my regular harness but I am only 5’2 and usually wear an XS harness and am worried this won’t fit. Thanks for all your great help!

    Reply

    • Erica

      Hi Brighton!
      First off, congratulations!!! As far as the harness goes, its just one size but I think youll be fine. Ive got a few inches on you at 5’5, but Im pretty thin amd did not get a huge bump (comparatively…i certainly felt huge!!!) With my first I switched to the full body at 20 weeks, with number two it was around 22 or so. The straps on the harness were a mile long at first, but pretty easy to tuck out of tge way. Hope thathelps!
      E

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN