We all get excited about buying kites, boards, foils but often the harness is over looked and we buy whatever our budget allows. With all the power going going through a harness and its essential that it fits well. We have all seen or tried a harness that is not a good fit and the. Harnesses riding up, pressure points and a twisting harness are all problems that can ruin your session and these should all be avoidable with a correctly fitted harness. Check out the list below to help make sure your next harness fits correctly.
Measure your waist – First step is sizing up the area you harness will go on your body. Measure around the waist from your belly button. Do not use your trouser size as a measurement, most people wear their trousers on their hips and this measurement may be different to area a harness will go.
Use the Manufactures Size Guide – Take this measurement and use the manufactures size guide to get a harness size. It may be worth going up or down a size if you are right on the edge of their recommendations especially if you are going to be changing thickness wetsuit over the year. Use this guide to selected spreader bar size if applicable.
Put the Harness on – Without the spreader bar you should put the harness on and it should sit between the top of the hips and below the rib cage. At this stage the harness should be comfortable with the waist belt running directly over your navel. This is the same for both men and women and you should find that the shape of the harness sits into the small of your back and the contours of the harness should not be rubbing. Note: Trying to fit the harness too low will actually cause the harness to rise up more once the kite is above you.
Waist Belt and Spreader Bar – The waist belt is there to sit the harness in the correct position and the spreader bar then works in conjunction with the waist belt to hold the harness together and take the load of the kite and distribute it across the harness. Ideally you want to use the largest size spreader bar possible but without maxing out the adjustment on either side. Using the largest possible spreader that fits also minimises the spreader bar pointing up when the kite is above you.
Try It – With your harness now sized up and fitted correctly you will want to hook in and move around. It doesn’t need to be a kite to do this, anything secure and ideally at least a 45 degree angle above you. A rope in a tree or a roof rack strap tied to a van roof rack are ideal simulators, but secure is the key word. Try twisting and pulling at different angles and you should find a well fitted harness has minimal movement.
Taking it Off – Most modern harnesses will have some form of quick release which serves two functions. The first making it pretty easy to get out of the harness even with numb fingers and the second is that you don’t have to change the size adjustments every time you go out. You may need to adjust the size over the course of a year (for different wetsuit thicknesses) but it shouldn’t need to be every session.
Soft or Hard – Over the years harness construction has changed for the better but there are two main types of waist harness. Softer harness tend to be cheaper and fit more body shapes with less problems but due to their soft nature they can move and may not spread the load of the kite as well. A hard shell harness gives more support and spreads the kites power more evenly and with less flex they will squeeze you less when the kite pulls. The down side is they tend to be more expensive, a little harder to fit and are more delicate. The are some harness that sit squarely in the middle, not hard and not soft, and these can be the perfect harness for anyone wanting a hard shell that is struggling with fitting for whatever reason. Mystic Warrior X, Ride Engine Saber, ION Apex or Manera Halo
Lastly now you have a well fitted harness make sure you look after it.
- Rinse it, so the webbing doesn’t stay covered in salty water.
- Don’t throw it on the ground. This is really important with hard shell harnesses.
- Don’t stack everything in the car on top of your harness.
A well fitted and well looked after harness should easily last you a few years so see it as an investment in your progression of kitesurfing and not as an after thought of buying a kite.