Black Diamond Solution Review
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Black Diamond Solution
|Price||$56.13 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$99.95 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$79.95 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$67.46 at Backcountry||$64.95 at REI|
|Pros||Unrivaled comfort while belaying and hanging, good mobility, affordable||Comfortable to hang in, large gear loops, good mobility, versatile||Great features, comfortable, highly versatile, inexpensive||Comfortable, good mobility, lightweight, affordable||Inexpensive, big gear loops, versatile, unrestricted motion|
|Cons||Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbing||No ice clipper slots, heavy||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Small gear loops, not versatile||Nylon belt slides through waist padding, leg loops feel stiff|
|Bottom Line||One of the most comfortable harnesses you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing||A comfortable harness that excels on long, multi-pitch trad routes and is versatile enough for all kinds of rock climbing||A high-performing rock climbing harness at an excellent price||A light and comfortable harness for single or multi-pitch sport climbing||A decent all-around performer with a puzzling design that allows the nylon waist belt to slide through the padding, causing confusion and discomfort|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Solution||Black Diamond Solut...||Petzl Sama||Edelrid Sendero||Edelrid Moe|
|Hanging Comfort (30%)|
|Standing Comfort and Mobility (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (10%)|
|Total Scores (%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Solution||Black Diamond Solut...||Petzl Sama||Edelrid Sendero||Edelrid Moe|
|Designed for these disciplines||Sport||Sport, trad, multi-pitch||Sport, indoor, trad||Sport, lightweight alpine, trad||Rock, ice, alpine|
|Weight (size large)||13.3 oz||15.1 oz||14.8 oz||12.3 oz||12.3 oz|
|Adjustable Legs||No, elastic||No, elastic||No, elastic||Yes||Yes|
|Ice Clipper Slots||No||No||No||Yes - 2||Yes - 2|
|Waist Belt Construction||Fusion Comfort Construction: Three bands of webbing, breathable mesh, EVA foam insert||Super Fabric||Double webbing strips padded with EndoFrame technology||Soft frame construction with 3D mesh padding||Soft frame construction with 3D mesh padding|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Solution is the highest scorer when it comes to hanging comfort in our comparative testing. While rappelling, taking a climbers weight while belaying, or hang-dogging, this harness spreads the user's weight equally between the waist belt and the leg loops. The wide, supportive construction of these components prevents pressure points and provides a comfortable hanging experience. Sport climbing involves a lot of hanging, either working out the moves on a difficult route, or holding your partner's weight while belaying them on their project.
The super wide leg loops found on the Solution do a better job preventing loss of circulation than any of the others we tested. BD's "Fusion Comfort Construction" employs three bands of very thin webbing spread out evenly across the width of the waist belt and leg loops, efficiently dispersing the pressure generated by hanging or belaying in the harness. While it pairs a thin layer of EVA foam with some breathable mesh to complete the setup, this foam layer is nowhere near as bulky as that found on other high-performance harnesses. The result is a harness that is comfortable to wear when hanging, but that also provides great mobility.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
When it comes to climbing, standing around, or walking around the crag, this harness is very comfortable to wear. The leg loops and waist belt are contoured to fit the body's curves, eliminating areas where the harness flaps off of the body. These loops hug the skin and the connecting straps don't limit the range of motion. The fit almost never catches your attention, which is a good thing. When loaded up with quickdraws, the waist belt doesn't sag, and the low-profile design is comfortable to wear when wearing a pack. While climbing at your limit, mobility is key, and this harness won't hold you back when you are pushing the grades.
The riser bungees are slightly tight when raising our legs as high as we can, although this never affected us while climbing. Similarly, with its fixed leg loops, the stretchy elastic provides a slightly snugger fit around our upper legs than we would have if we had the option of adjusting the leg loops ourselves. These issues are minor and don't prevent us from recommending this harness for acrobatic sport climbing and gym climbing.
The Solution is a minimally featured harness to maintain a simple setup for sport and gym climbing. It has fewer features than nearly any other harness, but we think they all perform excellently. Its single auto-locking buckle on the waist works fabulously, and we also like its heavily reinforced tie-in point, usually the first place to wear out on a sport climbing harness. We also like how easy it is to clip quickdraws to the rigid plastic gear loops.
If we have any complaints, it would be that the four gear loops are all small. Each gear loop holds about eight full-size carabiners, meaning you can bring 16 quickdraws up a climb using just the front gear loops on each side. The rear gear loops hold about six carabiners each, which is plenty for carrying some extra draws up those long, rope-stretching pitches, or a personal anchor lanyard for cleaning routes with ring anchors. However, the gear loops don't have enough room for a full trad rack and slings for harder trad climbing. It also lacks ice clipper slots for winter climbing, and its haul loop is not as large or easy to clip as most others.
While this harness excels at sport and gym climbing, it lacks the versatility necessary to be an all-around workhorse. This is due to the small gear loops and lack of ice clipper slots. If the gear loops were larger, this harness would be suitable for trad and multi-pitch climbing, but as it stands, this harness remains an excellent sport climbing and gym-specific harness that advanced users will appreciate. If you are looking for one harness that can do it all, look elsewhere.
The Solution's fixed leg loops and small, unrated haul loop further limit this harness's versatility, meaning it isn't useful for big wall climbing or climbing in cold weather where the user might wear thick layers on the lower body. This harness is best purchased by someone who spends 90% or more of their time at the sport crag or in the gym. It can be called into service for a bit of trad cragging or ice climbing, but it's not an optimal choice for those disciplines.
Weight and Packability
At 13.3 ounces for a size large, the Solution isn't the lightest harness in the review, but it is light enough that its performance isn't hampered. Other harnesses shave ounces, and thus suffer from worse performance, while claiming to enhance the user's climbing ability because they won't be weighed down when attempting a redpoint send. While we at GearLab are generally huge proponents of lightweight gear, we are skeptical that a few ounces will make the difference in most mortal climbers' performances on a given redpoint route. This harness strikes a good balance between lightweight construction and useful, comfortable design features.
The Solution's stiff, molded gear loops and wide, somewhat stiff leg loops and waist belt don't lend themselves to packing small. If you need a harness that will pack down into a tiny stuff sack, this isn't the harness for you. Most of the time when heading to the sport crag, we bring a big pack that can swallow all necessary gear, in addition to extra goodies like our favorite flip flops and energy bars, so packability isn't a major issue with this harness.
Should You Buy the Black Diamond Solution?
We love this harness for sport and gym climbing, and if you only climb in these disciplines, this is the best harness for you. If you climb all disciplines but you want a niche harness for your sport climbing days, this is a great choice. It is relatively inexpensive, making it easier to justify purchasing a sport climbing-specific harness, and we think dedicated sport climbers pushing the grades might even feel a performance enhancement while climbing in this harness, compared to a heavier and bulkier all-around harness. But, if you are looking for one harness for all climbing disciplines, you should look elsewhere.
What Other Climbing Harnesses Should You Consider?
The major downside to this harness is its lack of versatility. Dedicated sport and gym climbers will love it, but for a harness that performs well across all disciplines, we think the Arc'teryx C-Quence is the best all-around climbing harness on the market. If you dabble in both trad and sport climbing, the Black Diamond Solution Guide is very similar to the Solution, with larger gear loops for trad and alpine climbing, while remaining similarly comfortable and flexible. The Petzl Sama nearly matches the performance of the Solution Guide for both sport and trad, for a lower price. If you are looking for a do-it-all harness that can also hold ice screws, but don't want to break the bank with the C-Quence, the Black Diamond Technician can handle every climbing discipline at a more reasonable cost.
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