“Kevlar” was the word that jumped to my mind the first time I handled Black Diamond’s new Solution Guide Harness—the outer fabric, dubbed Super Fabric by BD, felt like it would be damn-near bulletproof. It isn’t, to be sure; but after putting it through the wringer on real rock, my first impressions proved correct: this thing is pretty dang granite-proof, sandstone-proof, limestone-proof, etc. There’s no rock that’s going to tear or abrade this thing.
The Solution Guide is a new take on BD’s stalwart Solution, which has been through multiple iterations. Whereas the regular Solution harness is geared toward sport climbers, the Guide version is designed for tradsters.
The biggest changes have to do with the materials inside the harness itself. The waistbelt has three parallel, slightly stretchy strips of webbing running its entire length. Also present in the leg loops, this construction helps distribute your weight better, which makes sense—think of it like a hammock. The shape of the waistbelt is subtly different, too. Whereas the prior Solution’s waistbelt was widest above the hips, the new waistbelt is widest at the very back. Throw in slightly thicker padding along the hips, and it all means the harness doesn’t cut into my love-handles—er, obliques—as much at those pesky hanging belays.
The Solution Guide still has four gear loops, but the one closest to the front on each side is longer than it used to be. This means you can fit an extra couple cams or other doodads on each side without annoying bunching. The firm, yet still flexible plastic of the loops (not new) is ideal for trad, as even with heavier gear they don’t sag toward the center. Everything stays nice and neat. Our biggest wish for this harness was that all the gear loops were more spacious still—unlike some other trad-specific harnesses, usable space is still at a premium.
The Solution Guide does have a new fifth, fabric gear loop at the very back— which is convenient for storing any gear you know you don’t need at that moment—but it isn’t useful for gear you’ll actually need while cruxing out.
Other facets of the new Solution Guide remain largely unchanged. The $99.95 price tag is middle of the road compared to other high-end trad-specific harnesses. At 14 ounces, the new Guide version is a couple ounces heavier than the regular Solution, but for the added comfort it’s a no-brainer.
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