We test out the latest evolution in hardshell harnesses
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #95 IN SEPTEMBER, 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The ongoing evolutionary tale of the hardshell harness continues with Manera’s brand new Eclipse. Two-and-a-half years in the making the final mould itself that Manera settled on for the harness has a five figure price tag, so clearly these things aren’t cheap. However, hard shells (or deviations of that) are becoming more and more common, but Manera wanted to add some more adaptability to the hard shell design.
Hard is good they believe because the harness is less able to squeeze you in your sides when more and more pressure is applied to the front of a harness as you fight harder to lean back. (Imagine pulling an elastic band from an original round position.) That basic hard shell concept is fine they say, but when you’re riding the harness isn’t always in line with the kite’s pull, which is often actually lifting overhead, not just pulling in front of you.
So they’ve developed a shell that is progressively softer around the top and the sides, and firmer from the mid section to the base. They are coining this, ‘touch of a shadow, support of a shell’, and surely would have made it into Game of Thrones had Arya Stark needed a harness while perfecting her combat skills as the ‘many faced girl’.
The result is not only a shell that Manera say fits more people, but also a firm and supportive harness that doesn’t pinch or hurt at any point. The support in the side is especially evident, even though the Eclipse is relatively low profile for good body movement.
Counteracting the stiff support is the supple and close contact of an elasticated waist belt. I’m a scrawny 31 inch waist and should ideally be in a size small they reckon, but there was still some Velcro left to fasten together on the waist belt when pulled fully right across my abs. The bar pad is stiff and robust and slides snuggly into a little sleeve inside the harness buckle. I was really at the absolute limit of the medium harness here as there’s only so far that the bar pad slides in before it stops at the side point, further tightening the supportive structure. So if you’re a small medium, go for the small and have a bit more Velcro material to really crank the harness tight if you want to.
Such is the ideal working shape of the harness, even this medium always felt rooted in place at my waist. The inner texture of the harness material is soft and so smooth that it’s almost slimey to cause as little friction with your suit as possible. The back panel is filled with ‘gel foam’ to mould and follow the movement of your back and also acts as a shock absorber. This slimey material also reduces rash and irritation if the suns out and you’re shredding with your chest out.
Also new for Manera and standard on all Eclipse harnesses is a leash tab attached to the spreader bar that has a little ring on the end for attaching your kite leash too. More and more people are riding with mini-leashes for waves or foiling as they’re not unhooking, and attaching your leash to a point in front rather than behind you is the safest place to be able to reach it in an emergency.
For me, the Eclipse fits well, though the small is even better after trying it briefly in a shop. It’s lightweight, yet snug and supportive and the medium still doesn’t ride up on me at all. The two ribbed straps to tighten the bar down on either side are easy to pull, even when under load, and are very grippy in the buckle and stay nicely set and tight throughout your session; especially good for foiling or boosting.
What else can I say? We’re really receiving some brilliant harness designs into the office at the moment; each seemingly better than the other. However, it’s most important to remember that fit is the first thing to get right. If it doesn’t fit you properly, however much anti ride-up tech a harness has, the way it works will be compromised. Wave riders note that Manera have finished the design of a rope sliding spreader bar that employs two ropes instead of one. Firstly for more security, but also as the extra friction from the second rope slows the chicken-loop’s speed of sliding from one side of the harness to the other as you make your turn on the wave, which apparently is quite nice! That will be released before the end of the year.
Sleek and supportive, there’s no doubt this harness is especially good for foiling and boosting where you have lots of uplift to deal with.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
There is no leash ring on the security line on the back of the harness, nor is there a D ring on the side of the harness to attach a handle-pass leash to. So if you’re used to either of those, that’s just something to note.
ECLIPSE TECH VIDEO