Black Diamond Solution Guide Review
Cons: No ice clipper slots, heavy
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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Black Diamond Solution Guide
$99.95 at REI
$79.95 at REI
$74.95 at REI
$64.95 at REI
|$79.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Comfortable to hang in, large gear loops, good mobility, versatile||Unrivaled comfort while belaying and hanging, good mobility, affordable||Great features, comfortable, highly versatile, inexpensive||Inexpensive, big gear loops, versatile, unrestricted motion||Extremely light, great mobility, functional enough|
|Cons||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Gear loops are small for carrying a large rack, not very versatile for other styles of climbing||No ice clipper slots, heavy||Nylon belt slides through waist padding, leg loops feel stiff||Uncomfortable for hanging, not suitable for most types of climbing|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable harness that excels on long, multi-pitch trad routes and is versatile enough for all kinds of rock climbing||One of the most comfortable harnesses you can buy, and our favorite for sport climbing||A high-performing rock climbing harness at an excellent price||A decent all-around performer with a puzzling design that allows the nylon waist belt to slide through the padding, causing confusion and discomfort||This ultra-lightweight skiing and mountaineering harness is the best in its class|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Petzl Sama||Edelrid Moe||Blue Ice Choucas Light|
|Hanging Comfort (30%)|
|Standing Comfort and Mobility (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (10%)|
|Total Scores (%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Solut...||Black Diamond Solution||Petzl Sama||Edelrid Moe||Blue Ice Choucas Light|
|Designed for these disciplines||Sport, trad, multi-pitch||Sport||Sport, indoor, trad||Rock, ice, alpine||Mountaineering, ski touring, ice|
|Weight (size large)||15.1 oz||13.3 oz||14.8 oz||12.3 oz||3.3 oz|
|Adjustable Legs||No, elastic||No, elastic||No, elastic||Yes||No|
|Ice Clipper Slots||No||No||No||Yes - 2||Yes - 2|
|Waist Belt Construction||Super Fabric||Fusion Comfort Construction: Three bands of webbing, breathable mesh, EVA foam insert||Double webbing strips padded with EndoFrame technology||Soft frame construction with 3D mesh padding||UHMW polyethylene, polyamide|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Solution Guide uses Black Diamond's "Fusion Comfort Technology" in both the waist belt and leg loops, comprised of three flat strips of webbing spread out and covered in minimal padding to help provide a wider area for spreading the climber's weight across the surfaces of the harness. This design is very low profile and uses almost no thick foam padding. It's also one of the most comfortable designs found on any harness.
Because you never know how long you may spend at a hanging belay, comfort while hanging is critical for a multi-pitch harness. Hanging in this harness is more comfortable than virtually any other, as the load is spread out evenly between the legs and lower back. We noticed that the waist belt does compress a bit, riding up to apply pressure over the top of our iliac crest over time, but far less egregiously so than the competition. The fat leg loops are also comfortable to hang in, although if we hung in the same position for too long without moving, we noticed our circulation started to get cut off, a problem easily remedied by shifting around a bit. As we have stated many times, hanging for long periods in a harness is not comfortable, but the Solution Guide is one of our favorites for hanging.
Standing Comfort and Mobility
This is a very comfortable harness to hang out in, and also provides excellent mobility due to its thin design and low profile. Should you need to wear a pack over the top of this harness, the thin waist belt sits comfortably underneath pack straps, and while the gear loops are made of rigid molded plastic that stick out, they will flatten out if needed.
The comfort of this harness is one of the main reasons we love it so much. However, if we are choosing to be nitpicky, we could say that the leg loops rub together a little bit as we walk around, and sometimes they don't lay flat against the inside of the legs, causing them to catch on each other. We have noticed this a few times over the few months we have been testing, but this affects performance minimally and is simply a minor, occasional annoyance. The leg loops are stiff, which is noticeable when hiking in it. However, when climbing, the harness is very comfortable and not limiting.
The Solution Guide's features are perfectly suited for long multi-pitch and single-pitch traditional climbs. The front gear loops are huge, offering plenty of storage capacity for your critical gear without forcing you to reach around the back of the harness to find exactly what you need. The rear gear loops are spacious as well, and hold plenty of slings in addition to a belay and anchor kit.
There are five gear loops total, with four rigid molded plastic ones, two on each side, that stick out a bit from the body and have a flat, horizontal orientation. These are some of the easiest gear loops to clip and unclip carabiners from, and their flat design means that the carabiners don't crowd on top of each other, even when loaded up to the brim. The fifth gear loop is flexible and spans the entire backside of the harness, making it a great place to stash extras like a windbreaker or small water bottle. The leg loops are not adjustable, nor does the harness come with ice clipper slots.
There is a dedicated haul loop in the back, although it is not rated, and shouldn't be trusted to hold a fall. The tie-in points and belay loop are reinforced for longer wear, and the durability of the entire harness is greatly enhanced by the use of Super Fabric, meaning it won't quickly fray if you like chimneying or climbing offwidth cracks. The leg loops are non-adjustable but have a wide range of elastic stretch, and the large, doubled-back waist belt buckle is a cinch to use.
The Solution Guide performs well for all applications on rock. It especially excels at trad and multi-pitch climbing due to its large gear loops that easily fit an entire double rack and slings, and great hanging comfort for long days on the wall. It is also versatile enough to use regularly while sport climbing or at the gym since its added features do little to increase bulk or weight.
The only types of climbing we don't find it appropriate for are alpine mixed and ice, as well as mountaineering, as it has no ice clipper slots and many people also appreciate adjustable leg loops for these pursuits. It falls on the heavier side, so elite climbers may want a more sport-specific harness for their hardest redpoint attempts. But overall, this is one of our most recommended harnesses for anyone who loves every type of rock climbing.
Weight and Packability
At 15.1 ounces for a size large, the Solution Guide is on the heavier side of average for most climbing harnesses. The large, molded gear loops, full-size belay loop, and burly exterior fabric all contribute to this heavier weight. Overall, we find these excellent features to be worth the weight, and we only notice the weight difference on the longest climbs and longest days.
This harness is fairly bulky when thrown into a pack, but the thin waist and leg loops allow the harness to be nested tightly when you need it to. The rigid plastic gear loops make it a bit bulkier than comparable models, though. Overall, if weight and packability are your main concerns for longer approaches, alpine climbs, and the hardest redpoint attempts, there are better options, but for most multi-pitch climbing, the weight/size of this harness isn't an issue.
Should You Buy the Black Diamond Solution Guide?
The Solution Guide costs a bit more than other options on the market, and although it performs better than most of the less expensive models, it can be beaten where value is concerned. If you climb outside on every kind of route, from sport to trad to multi-pitch, this is the best harness on the market for your needs, and represents a good value. However, if you are shopping on a budget, there are less expensive models that perform nearly as well.
What Other Climbing Harnesses Should You Consider?
The Solution Guide just barely edges out the Petzl Sama for performance on trad and multi-pitch climbs, but not by much, and the Sama is much more affordable. If cost is a factor, the Sama is a perfect option. If you want great all-around performance on rock, with the added benefits of versatility for ice and mixed climbing, the Arc'teryx C-Quence is our favorite all-around model. If you are looking for a similarly comfortable harness but spend all of your climbing sessions at the sport crag or the gym, the Black Diamond Solution is our top choice for sport climbing. And if you want the same large gear loops as the Solution Guide, with the versatility of the C-Quence and at a low weight for alpine climbing, the Petzl Sitta is an awesome choice, though you'll sacrifice some hanging comfort.
— Jeff Dobronyi & Andy Wellman
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