Maybe one of the must overlooked pieces of gear while climbing in the gym is the beloved rope - diaper ... aka harness, for the uninformed. In my time as the gym's Retail Manager I have noticed that we tend to buy 10 different pairs of shoes before we even think about maybe replacing our harness. So with that in mind, maybe we should put a little more thought into that piece of gear that saves your life every time you fail at climbing — or succeed and now need down.
New for this season is the Black Diamond Solution harness, which is available in both a women's and men's fit. My first impressions were that it would be great for gym climbing and sport climbing, but not something I would want to hang around in all day. I honestly wrote is off as another fancy lightweight sport harness for those climbers that think ounces actually matter when it comes to making that crux move on their sport proj.
And I was wrong...
Coming in at a very staggering $69.95 buck-a-roos, the harness looks like it would hit the $100 mark easily. But nope, at a very modest $70 price point, the Solution is only about $15 more than Black Diamonds entry level harness, while giving you the comfort and weight of harnesses that cost more than twice as much.
Common sense would dictate that a harness this thin would not rate very high on the comfort scale ... but you would be wrong. Like, really wrong. Like, a 5-year-old trying to take a quantum physics test wrong. The astonishing feat of this harness's comfort level is accomplished by the shear amount of surface area in all the right places, kinda like being swaddled as a baby except YOU'RE NOT A BABY and YOU'RE CLIMBING. In Black Diamond's terms, the harness uses Fusion Comfort Technology, which consists of three low-profile pieces of webbing that distribute weight across the entirety of the waist belt, and also features an EVA foam insert to help add structure. Black Diamond put mesh padding on the inside for comfort and breathability, and a stretch woven laminate on the outside to help keep the durability high.
Black Diamond kept the high-surface-area-equals-comfort concept in the leg loops as well, which are a blessing from the rock gods when your partner keeps yelling "1 more try!" 50 times in a row while you're just hanging there on belay, or if you're the one tied into the sharp end screaming "JUST ONE MORE," — either way, your legs will be like an insomniac who just shotgunned a Red Bull aka NOT ASLEEP.
I tested this harness sport climbing in the gym, and a doing few short multi-pitches — and not once did I regret not having a different harness. So next time you look at your ol' faithful harness and question if it's time to put her out to pasture or not, just know there is a Solution (heh heh) to that dilemma.
Who should buy this:
- Someone who just wants a nicer harness from the get go
- Gym Climber
- Sport Climber
- Trad Climber
- Unless you're aid climbing, or on a REALLY long multi-pitch with literally nothing but hanging belays
- Speed adjust buckle
- May not be comfortable enough if you're spending the day at hanging belays
- Non-adjustable leg loops might not work for everyone
- Haul loop is rated to 0 kn (basically its a loop for you to clip a chalk bag to)
One caveat to these cons is that these are things I wouldn't expect out of this harness in the first place! It's really good at what it does, end of story! These are sold at all four of our gyms, in men's and women's versions!