The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Black Diamond Solution Review

Without doubt the most comfortable harness you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $70 List | $69.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Unrivaled comfort while belaying, hanging, or chilling, super light, affordable
Cons:  Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbing
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 12, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • Hanging Comfort - 35% 9
  • Standing Comfort and Mobility - 20% 9
  • Features - 20% 5
  • Belaying Comfort - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Solution is the most comfortable harness that we have ever worn. Since our harness ratings are especially heavy on comfort — accounting for 70% of a product's final score when combining comfort while standing, hanging, and belaying — it is no surprise that the Solution is among the highest-scoring harnesses in our review. While it doesn't have the absolute widest or most heavily padded waist and leg loops, the Fusion Core Construction disperses a person's weight in a way that is simply unrivaled among its competition. Despite this praise, the Solution is not the optimal choice for everyone, as its design and feature set are targeted specifically toward sport and gym climbing, eschewing many convenient and necessary features for carrying a large rack or extras up long trad climbs. For this reason, we award it our Top Pick as the Most Comfortable Harness for Sport Climbing, but caution against buying it with much else in mind.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Unrivaled comfort while belaying, hanging, or chilling, super light, affordablePerfect feature set for any style of rock climbing, most comfortable harness for belaying, affordableVery light, super packable, most mobile, versatile for all types of climbingComfortable to hang in, increased carrying capacity, durable, mobileGreat arrangement of functional features including gear loops, very comfortable design for hanging and belaying, versatile, relatively affordable
Cons Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbingNo ice clipper slots, not the lightestExpensive, not as comfortable for prolonged hangingNot as comfortable as Solution for long belay sessions, no ice clipper slotsHeavy and bulky, more annoying to wear while walking than lighter harnesses
Bottom Line Without doubt the most comfortable harness you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing.The best rock climbing harness that you can buy.A lightweight, high-end harness with a top shelf price tag.An extremely versatile harness ideal for multi-pitch rock climbs.The optimal choice for long free routes, or anytime when carrying a large rack.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Solution Petzl Sama Petzl Sitta Black Diamond Solution Guide Petzl Adjama
Hanging Comfort (35%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
Standing Comfort And Mobility (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
5
Features (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
Belaying Comfort (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
9
Versatility (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Black Diamond... Petzl Sama Petzl Sitta Black Diamond... Petzl Adjama
Designed for these disciplines Sport Sport, indoor, trad trad, sport, mountaineering Sport, trad, multi-pitch Trad, multi-pitch, mountaineering
Weight (size medium) 12.3 oz 13.7 oz 9.7 oz 14.1 oz 15.8 oz
Gear Loops 4 4 4 5 5
Haul Loop Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Adjustable Legs? No, elastic No, elastic No, elastic No, elastic Yes
Self-locking buckle? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ice Clipper Slots? No No, but works with Caritool EVO Yes - 2 No No, but works with Caritool EVO
Waist Belt Construction Fusion Comfort Construction: Three bands of webbing, breathable mesh, EVA foam insert Double webbing strips padded with EndoFrame technology WireFrame: support and weight distribution w/o use of foam Super Fabric EndoFrame Technology: wide waistband to reduce pressure points
Waist Size Ranges (inches) 27-30 (S), 30-33 (M), 33-36 (L), 36-39 (XL) 28-30 (S), 30-33 (M), 33-36 (L), 36-39 (XL) 26-30 (S), 29-33 (M), 32-36 (L) 24-39 in 28-30 (S), 30-33 (M), 33-36 (L), 36-39 (XL)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Solution uses what is called Fusion Comfort Construction to create the most comfortable waist belt and leg loops. This design employs three bands of very thin webbing spread out evenly across the waist and legs to more efficiently disperse the pressure generated by hanging or belaying in the harness. While it does pair 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 the comparable Petzl harnesses. The result of this technology is that it's the most comfortable harness to hang in and for hanging out, and second-best for belaying, despite costing a significant amount less than many of the other models that we tested.

The only downside that we can find to this harness is the fact that it doesn't have larger gear loops to accommodate the amount of gear typically carried when leading long free routes. Instead, it is a sport or gym climber's specialty harness and works optimally for these disciplines.

The Black Diamond Solution Guide Harness
In mid-2019, Black Diamond released the new Solution Guide harness, replacing the old Chaos in its lineup. This harness is essentially an adapted Solution, built with a slightly wider waist belt, larger front gear loops, an added fifth gear loop on the back, and more durable fabric. While it costs a bit more, it IS the perfect Solution for long multi-pitch routes and trad cragging.

Performance Comparison


The Black Diamond Solution is the most comfortable sport climbing harness that you can buy  making it one of our Top Picks. If you mostly sport climb  this is easily one of the best choices for you  although it lacks a bit in versatility for other climbing styles like trad or alpine.
The Black Diamond Solution is the most comfortable sport climbing harness that you can buy, making it one of our Top Picks. If you mostly sport climb, this is easily one of the best choices for you, although it lacks a bit in versatility for other climbing styles like trad or alpine.

Hanging Comfort


The Solution is the highest scorer when it comes to hanging comfort in our comparative testing. When hanging while rappelling or at a hanging belay, we have found that a person's weight will rest roughly equally on the leg loops where they arc across the back of the hamstrings and the waistband as it cradles the lower back. Therefore, hanging comfort has a large amount to do with the performance of both the waist belt and the leg loops.


The super wide leg loops found on the Solution do a better job preventing loss of circulation than any of the others we tested. However, when hanging, the waist belt tends to ride up a bit, putting a bit of pressure on the kidneys. This happens in a lot of harnesses and is still less of an issue than we found on less expensive BD harnesses.

Hanging in a harness is usually not all that comfortable. We hung in each model for lengthy periods of time to test how they felt  and there is no doubt the BD Solution is among the most comfortable.
Hanging in a harness is usually not all that comfortable. We hung in each model for lengthy periods of time to test how they felt, and there is no doubt the BD Solution is among the most comfortable.

Standing Comfort and Mobility


When it comes to standing around or hiking while wearing a harness, this harness easily ranks among the best. It fits in a snug but very unobtrusive way, almost never catching your attention. Carrying a lot of weight on it, we notice no sagging or chafing of any sort. While wearing a pack, it is no hindrance, as the low profile design easily sits well under the waist belt of our pack without undue pressure.


When it comes to mobility, we have little to complain about but are going to get nitpicky because that's what we do in a comparative test. 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 so minor that they certainly don't keep it from being one the most comfortable.

The Solution is a highly mobile harness that moves as you do  and as one tester put it  "feels like you are not even wearing a harness".
The Solution is a highly mobile harness that moves as you do, and as one tester put it, "feels like you are not even wearing a harness".

Features


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 the rigid plastic gear loops are for quickly clipping and unclipping quickdraws, and found that despite the fact these have been shrunk even smaller on the latest version, they are still very easy to clip.


If we have any complaints, it would be that the four gear loops are all small: perfect for carrying a rack of 16 quickdraws, but not as large as the oversized front loops found on the Solution Guide. It also doesn't have ice clipper slots for winter climbing, and its haul loop is not as large or easy to clip as most others and is likewise not rated.

The Solution has a minimal feature set  as you can see it has some of the smallest and lowest profile gear loops you can find on a harness  perfectly adequate for carrying a selection of quickdraws.
The Solution has a minimal feature set, as you can see it has some of the smallest and lowest profile gear loops you can find on a harness, perfectly adequate for carrying a selection of quickdraws.

Merely having larger gear loops would have expanded the range of this excellent harness into almost any discipline, but as it stands, it is thus a bit limited.

Showing the auto-locking buckle on the waist belt of the Black Diamond Solution  which effectively pinches the webbing between to metal pieces to stay tight at all times.
Showing the auto-locking buckle on the waist belt of the Black Diamond Solution, which effectively pinches the webbing between to metal pieces to stay tight at all times.

Belaying Comfort


Comfort while belaying is perhaps a bit overlooked when considering a harness purchase, but it shouldn't be, as this makes up a large part of a harnesses function. There is no doubt that the Solution is comfortable for this purpose, but in the end, this is the only comfort-related grading metric where we feel the Petzl options are unquestionably better.


When it comes to holding someone on a top-rope or while hanging for a long time, the critical place of discomfort comes where the leg loops wrap over the femoral artery on the inside of the leg and rise to meet the belay loop. With the widest and most comfortably constructed leg loops, it shouldn't be a surprise that the Solution performed so well. By comparison, the Arc'teryx models have thin straps at this critical point that feel like they are gouging into us.

While the Solution comes in both men's and women's specific version  Jess was left testing a men's because her bags didn't show up in Spain for three days (always carry shoes and harness in your carry on!) Regardless  she agreed that it is a rediculously comfortably harness to belay in.
While the Solution comes in both men's and women's specific version, Jess was left testing a men's because her bags didn't show up in Spain for three days (always carry shoes and harness in your carry on!) Regardless, she agreed that it is a rediculously comfortably harness to belay in.

Versatility


If there is one aspect we wish that we could change about this harness, it would be to make it more versatile. BD heard our complaints and added both the Technician for ice and mixed climbing and the Solution Guide to their line-up. As only being fit for sport climbing, this is one of the least versatile choices you could make.


The Solution's fixed leg loops, small gear loops, small haul loop, and lack of ice clipper slots all limit its use. 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 if needed, but just isn't an optimal of a choice for those disciplines.

The Solution is purpose made for sport climbing  and its feature set is such that it doesn't offer itself well to many other climbing genres. On the other hand  it does pack down very small and easily fits in a pack for long approaches.
The Solution is purpose made for sport climbing, and its feature set is such that it doesn't offer itself well to many other climbing genres. On the other hand, it does pack down very small and easily fits in a pack for long approaches.

Value


The Solution retails for a surprisingly low price, considering how well it performs. While it's a little more expensive than the cheapest options, it's still far cheaper than the most expensive harness that we tested. Since we think it is the best sport climbing harness you can buy, we are happy that it comes at a relatively affordable price tag and think it presents great value.

Sport climbing is the best use for the Solution  like pulling on 30m long overhanging tufas in Chulilla. This harness comes in both men's and women's specific models.
Sport climbing is the best use for the Solution, like pulling on 30m long overhanging tufas in Chulilla. This harness comes in both men's and women's specific models.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Solution is the most comfortable harness that we tested for this review, and was also one of the highest overall scorers. As such, we feel like it is the absolute best choice for climbers who primarily sport or gym climb. We also like that it comes at a relatively affordable price compared to most companies' "high end" versions, and thus wholeheartedly endorse it.

Testing the Solution on the type of terrain it is designed for - sport climbing - in the super beautiful Chulilla of Spain.
Testing the Solution on the type of terrain it is designed for - sport climbing - in the super beautiful Chulilla of Spain.


Andy Wellman