Finding the right climbing harness –
Black Diamond Solutions Harness, Alex Honnold Edition
I love rock climbing. But finding the right climbing gear, including a good harness, is a challenge.
When I was a kid and young teen my family and I spent a lot of time camping in Joshua Tree National Park. At the time, it was a National Monument. That’s how long ago we’re talking about here.
I climbed everywhere, mostly bouldering. Sometimes, however, I found myself in areas where I wished I had all the cool equipment that the “real” climbers had; ropes, nuts, carabiners, shoes and, of course, a harness.
Oh, I improvised to be sure. I couldn’t afford a real harness so I fashioned one out of a long length of 1.5” webbing. Slap a carabiner on it, add a length of rope and, viola! You had a climbing rig!
If I could go back in time, I’d slap myself. I consider myself lucky that nothing went wrong when so much could have led to a trip to the hospital or worse.
So, when I got older, and wiser, and as climbing gyms finally became a ‘thing”, it was time to get some real gear. Shoes first, which I’ll review in another post. Then, because I really wanted to move from bouldering to more sport climbing both in and out of the gym, I needed a harness. I looked at several and finally landed on the Black Diamond Solutions Harness.
First, It’s Lightweight!
One of the first things I noticed about the harness was it was light. My Petzl Corax, which I love by the way, weighs a little over 19 oz. The Black Diamond Solutions weighs in at about 11 oz. Both of these harnesses have their place. The Solutions Harness, however, is really designed for gym or sport climbing.
I like that I don’t notice it when it’s on. It allows for a lot of movement without getting in the way. I haven’t noticed any pinching or restrictions when I climb. And, being an older climber, I don’t need any of my equipment to slow me down or impede my progress. I can do that all by myself!
Adjustments! Who needs adjustments?!
The harness has only one buckle. One! When I first tried it on, I was confused at the lack of adjustments. And, to be honest, I felt a little insecure about the fact that I couldn’t cinch the leg straps down. However, once I started climbing, that feeling went away. When you take a fall, the harness feels very secure and comfortable. The only adjustment is at the waist.
It’s really comfortable!
Another thing I really liked was that the Black Diamond Solutions Harness is comfortable. I think it’s actually because there are no real adjustments, the leg loops and belt have width to them and the material has a soft feel to it. All of these add up when you’re belaying your partner or when you take a fall. It’s a long way from the web harness of old.
Make sure it fits!
If you decide to get this harness, make sure it fits you properly. If you’re swimming in it or it’s too tight, get another size. The harness should fit comfortably on the ground without pinching or being way too loose. Since it lacks the adjustability of some other harnesses, it has to fit properly to not only be comfortable, but to be safe. Try on a few to make sure it fits you.
The Alex Honnold Edition
Alex is a world class climber and most notably won an Oscar for his documentary, Free Solo. If you haven’t seen it, get it done. He is an amazing climber, light years ahead of most of us, and it’s a great documentary. Way outside my pay grade to be sure.
The Black Diamond Solutions Harness, Alex Honnold edition gives back a portion of the profits from the sale to Alex’s foundation which brings electricity to remote parts of Africa where these places had no electricity at all. The people in these areas now have lighting instead of having to use fires for light. This allows these people to use less wood, create less smoke and invest back into their own communities. So, the purchase of this harness for my son was a no brainer.
You can check out our video review of the harness here:
Overall, this is a great harness. We love the light weight comfort both in and out of the gym. The lack of adjustability took a little getting used to for me but, in the end, it was no big deal.
And, we’ll see you Outside!