Review by Douw Steyn
Lightweight harnesses are becoming increasingly popular these days. It used to be the case that they were tolerated for occasional use because the weight-saving offset the short periods of discomfort. Nowadays however, with modern technology, they have evolved into something that one can consider one’s standard harness.
The Solution is the new lightweight sport climbing harness from Black Diamond. It weighs in at just 330 grams and looks super small and basic, yet it performs above expectation. It is designed and marketed as a sport climbing harness, but could easily be used for other activities.
My first outing after receiving the harness was a trad excursion on Table Mountain, which happened to involve a rather lengthy hanging belay. Somewhat surprisingly, it turned out to be every bit as comfortable as my regular, fully padded, trad harness. In addition, the four pressure-moulded gear loops adequately accommodated my rather large trad rack. In fact, the only hesitation I would have about using this harness for regular trad climbing is the small and flimsy looking haul loop at the back. I often hang items like my approach shoes at the back of my harness or attach a thin haul line to it, and a large, strong loop is very useful. The loop on the Solution doesn’t really look up to the task and is clearly marked ‘0 kN’ although I do suspect that it may be a bit stronger than it looks. For shorter tradding, though, the Solution would be completely adequate.
Of course, the Solution is designed as a sport climbing harness and here it performs wonderfully. It is thin and light and hugs your body so that you almost forget that you are wearing a harness at all. The four gear loops will easily hold enough quickdraws for the longest route, and you can hang around comfortably working the crux for as long as it takes. Despite appearances, this is not a harness just for the final redpoint burns on your project.
The weight-saving is achieved by the use of three separated bands of narrow webbing held apart and in place by a thin layer of EVA foam. This results in quite a wide band, especially at the hips and under the legs. Comfort is achieved by spreading weight over a larger surface area rather than by thick padding. And it works well. The leg loops are wide but held snug around the legs by a small elastic band which makes them essentially adjustable without the complexity or weight of buckles. A single, speed waist belt buckle makes for quick and secure fitting as it stays permanently threaded.
As an extra bonus, it scrunches up nicely into a small bag which is about half the size of a regular harness bag. This is rather nice if you’re heading up a big hill or onto a plane and need to fit your worldly possessions into a single backpack.
In summary, there is little to fault this harness. I would have liked to see a slightly stronger haul loop at the back which wouldn’t have added significant bulk or weight but it is hard to criticise as it is specifically designed for sport climbing. Also available in a woman’s cut.