Bosun’s Chair vs. Mast Climbing Harness

How to Climb Up the Mast of a Sailboat with a Bosun's Chair or Climbing Harness

Which would you choose – a bosun’s chair or a mast climbing harness? One is a comfortable seat with backrest, and the other is two straps around your upper legs and strap around the waist. At first glance, it seems like an easy choice – the bosun chair! But there’s a bit more to the story.

In this quick post, I’ll share a video that demonstrates each piece of mast climbing equipment, and I’m asking you to add to the votes!

Let’s jump into it – bosun’s chair vs. harness.

But first a quick vote:

Video Comparing Bosun’s Chair and Climbing Harness


When you need to go safely up a rig, you have a choice between a Bosun’s Chairs and a Climbing Harness. Annapolis Performance Sailing gives a great description in the video above.

Now, let’s look into purchasing options and prices.

Pros and Cons for the Bosun’s Chair


  • Comfort
  • Pockets for tools
  • Sense of security
  • Ease of climbing up the mast


  • Bulky
  • Requires two people
  • Requires more storage space

Pros and Cons for the Climbing Harness


  • High working load capacity
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store
  • Can be used alone


  • Discomfort
  • Lack of tool pockets
  • Not for lengthy jobs

Why Climb The Mast?

When you’re cruising and anchoring for any length of time, there will be repairs needed. With no one available to help, you’ve got be self-reliant, and that means you’ll need a safe way to climb 40, 50, or 60+ feet up the mast!

Also, it’s the most affordable way to inspect your own rig and instruments on the mast.

Buying a Bosun Chair or Harness

We’ll either buy from Amazon or Defender. But here are Amazon* links to the Chair by Harken and and the Harness by Spinlock.

You can see there’s not a large difference in pricing, and with sales one is usually a little less than the other at any given time.

Your Thoughts

I’m sure we’ve missed something in this blog post about bosun’s chairs and mast climbing harnesses. Let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below!





5 responses to “Bosun’s Chair vs. Mast Climbing Harness”

  1. I’m leaning toward the harness simply to save on storage space…but I’m looking forward to seeing comments or questions here that can help me make the best choice! Thanks for reading this blog and let’s chat!

    1. Kevin Hayes

      Bosuns chair for sure. Borrow one of each from someone and go aloft and sit there for 15 minutes. Decision will be easy.

      1. That’s a great idea, Kevin…btw
        I’m going to be in touch with in the next week. We’re ready to move forward with some new standing rigging.

  2. Bill

    Bos’un’s chair at the dock, harness at sea.

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