Black Diamond Technician Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Versatile, relatively affordable, lots of gear storage
Cons: Not super comfortable, stiff
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We laud the addition of the Technician to Black Diamond's lineup of harnesses, as they have been missing the versatile option that performs well at all styles of climbing. However, we lament that despite using the same Fusion Comfort Construction that is employed so effectively in the uber-comfortable Solution, the same effect is not replicated here. It's obvious to us that much of the comfort of this design comes from its suppleness, and for some reason, the waist belt and leg loops on this harness are stiff, rigid, and anything but soft. If this harnessfelt the same way that wearing a Solution does, it would be a no-brainer shoo-in for a Top Pick award. That said, we are happy that it has a large fifth gear loop on the back to accommodate the still pretty small rigid plastic gear loops found on the sides, and that it is a high-carrying capacity harness for relatively less money.
When hanging, we notice that the weight on one's body is fairly evenly distributed between the waist belt and the leg loops. Hanging in the Technician, we find that the more rigid waist belt has an effect on how this harness distributes the load, and we feel more pressure on the top of our iliac crest and in the middle of the lower back than if we are hanging in other BD harnesses. The leg loops, despite also being more rigid in nature, do a just fine job of distributing the load over our hamstrings without cutting off circulation. We can't rate this harness as high as we would like when considering hanging comfort, but we don't think it's the worst option out there.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
All of the harnesses in this review are relatively comfortable to hang out in around the crag, and so the complaints we are forced to point out to decide relative differences are minor. And so, the stiffness of this harness is noticeable when wearing it and walking around; in particular, the leg loops seem to have a shape of their own that simply don't rest flush and snug against our legs. We notice that while the gear loops are plastic and rigid, they will still smush down against the body when trapped under pack straps, and so this harness is reasonably comfortable with a pack on. We don't want to be too harsh, but compared to the ultra-comfortable competition, this one ensures that we feel very "present" in our harness.
As one would expect for a do-everything harness, the Technician has all the features one could ask for, and we feel they perform pretty darn well. It has four ice clipper slots for versatility carrying ice tools and screws in the winter, and adjustable leg loops so you can fine-tune the fit if you are wearing extra clothes.
The four rigid gear loops are not anywhere near as large as those found on the Petzl or Arc'teryx harnesses, a common "problem" with the design of all Black Diamond harnesses, in our opinion. However, this one has a very wide fifth gear loop in the back for hanging shoes, anchor building slings, and whatever else you may be carrying. One of our few complaints is that there is only one single keeper loop for the end of the waist belt buckle webbing, meaning a tab will be hanging down and loose if you fit on the small end of the spectrum.
While belaying, the weight of your climber tends to be localized entirely in the leg loops, especially as they wrap around the inside of the legs. The Technician harness, with its adjustable leg loops, tapers aggressively in this area to a sharp-edged design before becoming just a piece of flat webbing. It is thinner and less comfortable against the inside of the leg than most harnesses we tested. While this isn't a reason that we would consider not buying the harness, we feel that if you intend to put in serious belay duty at the sport cliff, you would likely be better off with a comfier model.
The Technician is a versatile harness, especially when it comes to rock, ice, and longer multi-pitch routes. We think it is roughly on par with the other highly versatile competitors in that regard, but point out that it is far more affordable. Because of its rigid design and relative lack of comfort while walking, it isn't our top pick for mountaineering or glacier travel.
While not the lowest priced, the Technician is still a bargain when compared to other versatile all-season options, which tend to be very expensive, relatively speaking. While it has roughly average performance, the relatively low price means we think it presents a pretty decent value.
The Black Diamond Technician fills a hole in BD's harness lineup by catering to those who like to climb dry rock in the summer as well as frozen ice in the winter, without having to own multiple harnesses to do so. We are a bit disappointed that it isn't as comfortable as the Solution, one of the comfiest harnesses we have ever used, but feel like its feature set, and price does a good job setting up the all-arounder for success.
— Andy Wellman