Black Diamond Solution Guide - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, very durable, five gear loops, simple design
Cons: On the expensive side, a bit bulky, stiff leg loops
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Solution Guide was recently added to the BD fleet, and is marketed as their go-to for trad and multi-pitch climbing. We felt that this was right on point, but were also impressed by the versatility of this harness. We found ourselves wearing the Solution Guide on any outing — from sport climbing to long multi-pitch routes. The addition of a fifth gear loop in the back makes room for personal gear, while the wider waist belt provides comfort at hanging belays or rap stations.
Our lead tester was so excited when Black Diamond came out with the Solution Guide - as she had worn the Solution on multi-pitch routes around the world. The Solution Guide is far more comfortable to wear all day, and far more durable for those long, burly trad routes in Yosemite and elsewhere.
That said, the very durable Super Fabric that makes up the waistband and leg loops of the Solution Guide makes it a tad less comfortable to stand in than its lighter weight counterpart. The fabric and construction make the leg loops and waist stiff, resulting in a loss of mobility when walking around in this harness. These losses in mobility are not enough to take away from the overall performance of this harness in terms of comfort, though. The Solution Guide also totes the signature tapered leg loop design of the other Solution model, which means that there is a lot of material on the back and outside of the leg loops, but not much going on in between the legs; this makes a huge difference in overall comfort.
Black Diamond's Fusion Comfort Technology incorporates three bands of webbing and an EVA foam insert to create a very well-padded, comfortable harness to hang in. The Solution Guide incorporates this technology, plus has a bit of extra padding and stiffness, which allows for a more comfortable hanging experience — ideal for multi-pitch climbing. We climbed many long routes in this harness and never experienced any hot spots or pinching at long, cramped belays.
There are a few subtle, trade-specific features that separate the Solution Guide from the standard Solution harness. The gear loops are the same pressure molded solid loops, but the first loop on the Guide harness is a bit wider, providing room for more cams and slings. There is also a fifth, lightweight gear loop in the back for extra personal gear (i.e., rappel device, gloves, anchor material). For us, these features were the most notable additions to the Solution Guide, separating it from its lightweight cousin. The abrasion-resistant material and stiffer construction also add durability, which is helpful on burly chimneys and offwidths.
The added features that make the Solution Guide a great trad climbing harness don't take away from this harness's versatility. The extra-durable leg loops and waistband are certainly not necessary at the sport crag, but they do not inhibit movement. Its weight lands it in the middle of the pack, neither too heavy or exceptionally lightweight. The Solution Guide also packs down small, so it fits in a tight pack for missions where space is limited. It does not have ice-clipper slots, which means this is not the best choice for ice or mixed climbing.
The Solution Guide is not a very adjustable harness. That said, there is generous legroom in the leg loops, in comparison to other brands we've tested. We recommend trying this harness on before buying it. If it fits your body, it is very comfortable, but if the proportions don't match up, there isn't much wiggle room with this one. We found the sizing to be the same as other BD models; our lead tester wore a size medium, and it fits perfectly.
While the Solution Guide is significantly more expensive than the standard Black Diamond Solution, we felt that the added cost is worth it if trad climbing is your main activity. The added features and durability that the Solution Guide provides is well worth the extra money in the long run, especially as this was one of our favorite harnesses for trad climbing and multi-pitching. After three months of climbing in this harness on long routes in Yosemite, sport crags on the East Side, and desert towers in Utah, we've hardly noticed any sign of wear, despite groveling through many a squeeze chimney.
WIth larger gear loops, impressive durability, and top-notch hanging comfort, the Black Diamond Solution Guide is our favorite harness for multi-pitch climbing. Though its trade-specific features add a little extra bulk, the Solution Guide still functions well as a cragging harness. Whether you're racking up for a 150-foot hand crack in Indian Creek or prepping for a long day of hanging belays, the Solution Guide has all the features needed for trad climbing endeavors big and small. For ladies who love the Solution, but want a bit more durability, padding, and larger gear loops, this harness is for you! Though it is a bit more expensive than the Solution, it felt reasonable because of these additional features.
— Jane Jackson