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Tech Tip: Question Recommended Harness and Wetsuit for Very Small 13 Year Old?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Emilyy2, Feb 9, 2020.

  1. Emilyy2

    Emilyy2

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    Hello,

    I've been doing canyoneering for 7+ years now, my 13 year old son has done it along with me a few times throughout those years, but has only now gained a strong interest for it within the past year. We've mainly just used rental equipment for him but now that he's really interested, he wants his own gear and I'm 100% up for doing that.
    So far we've been looking for a harness and wetsuit (he prefers the aquatic side to it) for him and have had not that much luck, though we've had some luck with buying some other things.

    The main reason we've had a problem is due to his short size. We're a genetically small family and have roots in a shorter country, so that along with him having Growth Hormone Deficiency place him low on the growth chart.
    He's 4 foot 5.3 inches and around 60 pounds at the moment, but even with this, he's in proportion and just ends up looking younger than he actually is.
    Another issue which causes some problems for harnesses is that he's insistent on getting a full body harness. I don't specifically know why, but I can create an update on why he is when I find out.
    On top of that, so far, the wetsuits and harnesses we've rented for him aren't to his preferences or seem hard to find, even with help from instructors.

    Sorry for the long paragraphs, but I thought I should probably explain everything to put it into context. If anyone knows of any wetsuits and full body harnesses that could match his height and weight, please let me know as I'd be very thankful.

    Just as a side note, he's also interested in the dorsal points on full body harnesses (once again, I don't know why and I can make an update) and is wondering if he'd be able to use them for anything. So it would also be a great help if anyone knows if a dorsal point on a full body harness could be of use to him in this or perhaps another sport.

    Thanks!
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Hi Emily -

    Interesting questions.

    To the wetsuit question: where do you live? A well-equipped dive shop should have a selection of child-size wetsuits. For canyoneering, wetsuits do not need to be bullet-tight (as they are preferred for diving), and space inside the wetsuit can be filled with quick-dry / synthetic clothing such as used for skiing, when appropriate.

    I was the harness designer/product manager at Black Diamond for 12 years. Among other projects, I explored the myth that full body harnesses were appropriate for children, and that they are "safer". Full body harnesses are appropriate for industrial settings, but are not only awkward and not-featured for climbing and canyoneering, but are physically/medically dangerous for use in our setting. (Dangerous mostly in the context of climbing falls). That's a "NO", a HARD NO.

    If the full-body harness is an insistence, then the topic should be explored psychologically; and the issue dealt with via training and testing in a safe environment. But in no case is a full-body harness appropriate for a person larger than median 5-year-old, able-bodied, non-industrial application.

    Tom
  3. Emilyy2

    Emilyy2

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    Thanks for the response,

    I live in southern Ontario, I just did a quick search for dive shops and there are a few in my area. So far we've only been searching online for wetsuits and I assume how I've been doing it is probably not the best thing to do as he can't try it on before buying. One worry is I'm not sure about what types of wetsuits they stock around here.

    In terms of the harness, we've only used waist harnesses with him for canyoneering so at first I was confused why he disliked that. He says that in most Scouts activities where harnesses are used, they give full body harnesses to the smaller kids and he's always been in that group that gets them and still is.
    This confused me as I assumed maybe he'd want to be like other peers his age and have a waist one, but he's saying he really likes how full body harnesses feel and fit and feels vulnerable without.

    I've never actually heard or seen much involving full body harnesses and canyoneering so I wasn't aware that it was dangerous to use one.
    I brought the danger factor up to him and he's still insisting that he needs a full body harness (and yes, I know he doesn't).
    I'm assuming testing and training would be controlled falls in a safe place, unless there's other ways that I don't know of. My only issue now is that I'm not sure how I'd convince him to willingly do said testing and training, though I could always just put my foot down if necessary.

    Em
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Please find out what brand and style of full body he has been using, and you can look for that on-line. The danger is when taking lead-climbing falls, and we do not do that when canyoneering. I hope.

    Dive shops may or may not have kids wetsuits... call first. You may not have much choice in sizing. Are you canyoning there in Ontario, or travelling to a more well known destination? In places close to the ocean, yard sales and thrift shops often have kids wetsuits for not much money. Full legs full arms required, and at least 4mm thick. Is there water skiing up there?

    Tom

    Tom
  5. Emilyy2

    Emilyy2

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    I frequent climbing stores and he'll usually tag along with me and he'll have a look around, from this he recognized the full body harness he usually uses at Scouts to be the Edelrid Fraggle II.
    Looking at the harness online, it seems Edelrid have come out with a new version of the Fraggle which is manufactured with more environmentally friendly materials, but it isn't any different from the previous one's fit and specifications.

    I think this is also where he got interested in the dorsal tie in point, but it really only seems to be for all arrest in adventure parks, skiing, or in the promotional video for the Fraggle they use it for swinging. Personally I don't know why he's interested in using it for anything because it seems unpractical for his situation and useless for rock climbing and canyoneering, though it's something he won't stop bringing up.

    I can call up or contact some diving shops later today when I get the chance, the diving shops around here mainly exist because of the great lakes. We also have waterskiing, generally in the cottage country lakes.
    Canyoning is quite limiting when it comes to Ontario, but go to Quebec on a near monthly basis where there are much more options. We also go down south quite often, usually a few times a year.

    Em
  6. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Not sure why this is a big issue. I've done canyons with 4-15 year old kids and never seemed to have trouble getting wetsuits or harnesses that fit. Granted, a full body harness typically only goes up to a certain size (they tend to be kid's harnesses) but you can always just make or buy a chest harness to go with your sit harness. Kids of all sizes routinely use wetsuits. Google "wetsuit for kids" and a million options pop up. Seriously, >12 million hits.
  7. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Just buy the wetsuits online. Take your best guess on size, then order the one larger and the one smaller, after you get them all, send back the two that don't fit. No reason to go to a dive shop. If he wants a Fraggle harness and it fits him, let him use it. It'll be the least of your expenses and it will certainly work fine for canyoneering.

    Eventually he'll realize there are far more comfortable harnesses, you know, with padding and stuff.
  8. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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  9. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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