I own enough harnesses to outfit a girls’ high school P.E. class. But last fall I used only one: the Black Diamond women’s Solution.
The Solution is a lightweight harness for indoors and outside. The 11-ounce model is durable and comfortable, utilizing “Fusion Comfort Technology,” a triple-weave webbing that distributes your weight to reduce pressure points.
The Solution comes in men’s and women’s models; I tested the version that’s fitted for us, while a male editor tried the men’s. His comments will follow mine.
What did I like most about the Solution? Even after marathon gym sessions and all day at Rifle, the harness never cut into me. It was also comfortable during long multi-pitch days, and remained so when I loosened the belt several inches to accommodate late-fall layers. What the Solution didn’t do is twist during falls—my other harness, also an all-arounder, had a bad habit of twisting.
One wish: I’d rather the fixed leg loops adjust so I could tighten them to fit my skinny legs.
Consider the Solution in a perpetual “half-off” sale: For just under 70 bucks, it stacks up to any harness I’ve used that cost twice as many smackers. For example, the Solution incorporates what I think of as “flat-and-wide” (and expensive) technology to get the feel of ample padding without actually having any. The result is a harness that isn’t bulky and relies on width—it is three inches wide in most places—rather than thickness for comfort. On the scales, the men’s Solution is 12.4 ounces.
It is also easy to attach gear to, an attribute that might seem simple to achieve, but, based on the legion of harnesses that utterly botch this necessity, must be as challenging as sending people into space. Four semi-rigid gear loops ride around your hip bones in the Goldilocks zone—not so far back that your quicks or cams hop into your chalkbag, and not so far forward they tap you on your private bits.
I used the men’s Solution for sport climbing, modern mixed (ice tools on rock), ice and alpine. The fixed leg loops slipped (if barely) over boots with crampons and thick pants, so the non-adjustable design that I often don’t like was no bother. For ice, I added ice clippers and duct-taped them in place, since the Solution lacks clipper loops.
In warmer times, on rock, I hung in the harness for what seemed like and probably was days on end, equipping and cleaning and less frequently sending projects. The Solution wasn’t hot, it didn’t chafe and it did everything I wanted.
Nearly everything, anyway. I was in want of a waist buckle that was easy to release. When my fingers were worked I could barely extract myself from the Solution, having to pry apart the buckle and feed the webbing back through it. Still, I always managed and even if I hadn’t it wouldn’t
much have mattered—this is a harness I could wear forever.
This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 235.