Theater harnesses and Stunt harnesses- what is the difference?

Ten to twenty years ago there was a well-defined difference, but with the many current innovators in live theater like Tait Towers and Cirque du Soleil

Flying harnesses from all over the theater/stunt spectrum are now just called Theater harnesses/ Stunt harnesses / or Performer flying harnesses interchangeably.

We build all types of harness designs you will find on these pages plus custom harnesses for live productions and stunts (over 150 custom patterns for Cirque du Soleil alone).

The original Climbing Sutra Ultra Swivel harness was developed for Stunt Coordinator Jack Gill on the film ‘The Cat in the Hat’ in 2003. Now it is probably the single most popular Theater harness

In the world used for classic productions of Peter Pan, Mary Poppins,  Little Mermaid all the way up to and including the Pink Tour.

Is the Ultra Swivel the most versatile two-point THEATER or STUNT harness ever made?

Side load suspension test for the original Ultra Swivel Harness 21 years ago…

Climbing Sutra Testing, Testing, Testing

Oh, and welcome back!

Periodically Climbing Sutra clients ask us: “Are your harnesses CE certified?” and the answer is No, but they would be if there was any meaningful strength testing standard that could apply to performer flying harnesses.

When it comes to stunt and theater harnesses there is no government strength testing standard anywhere in the world.  Existing standards can only be made to fit if you change them (so they are not ‘standard’ anymore). *

*side note- there are CE/ANSI standards for hardware, buckles, connectors, etc. These may be SEWN IN to a harness but that does not make the harness certified!

Up till now, performer flying harness makers have been on the ‘honor system’. Your only guarantee as a harness user/purchaser, has been the manufacturer’s word that their products are safe. Sadly, unscrupulous knock-off companies are now producing harnesses which are NOT safe.

At CLIMBING SUTRA we have been testing and certifying our harness designs for over 25 years. This means that we have an official ANSI test dummy, a calibrated load cell with recording device, a high-capacity test stand, repeatable sets of harness testing procedures, and a fanatical desire to TEST TEST TEST.

For twenty five years we have broken thousands of harness samples building a data base of what works and what doesn’t in the flying harness world.

In an effort to help the entertainment industry get on the same safety page we are now publishing Climbing Sutra’s testing standards for performer flying harnesses along with videos and 3rd party certs of the actual tests (see links on each product page).

If you have concerns about any performer flying harness we recommend you ask the harness manufacturer the following questions:

What is the Working Load Limit (WLL) and Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS)

For this harness?

How was the harness tested? Can I see the standard (list of procedures) you used to determine the WLL and MBS for this harness?

Using this standard do you have a professional 3rd party certification for this harness?

Every one of us (performer flying harness manufacturers) has a moral and ethical obligation to perform said testing and to provide the results to any who would consider purchasing or using our flying harnesses.

Please ask us!


Todd Rentchler, President

Trade Holdings, Inc DBA Climbing Sutra