Arguably the most tactile part of your kiteboarding session is your harness. It connects you to your kite and should offer support, performance, safety, and comfort. An uncomfortable, worn-out, or ill-fitting harness can be the biggest factor limiting the length and intensity of your session.
A harness is often one of the most overlooked pieces of gear to replace or upgrade. It is not uncommon to see a kiter on the beach with crispy 2023 kites, a state-of-the-art board, and brand new lines only to watch them put on a harness made six years ago that is falling apart and offers no support.
So, is it time for you to get a new harness? Review this checklist and use it to evaluate whether or not your harness needs to be retired:
- Signs of Wear
- More than Five Years Old
- Your Body has Changed
- Progression or a New Discipline
Signs of Wear
While this is the most obvious way to determine if you need to replace your harness, it is worth mentioning based on what we have seen on the beach. Take a good long look at your harness. Is it faded? Is the neoprene starting to fail? How worn is the webbing? While these may sound like aesthetic questions, a faded shell, degraded neoprene, and deep wear marks in your webbing indicate extensive use and UV exposure. Not only can extensive wear make your harness less comfortable, but it can also indicate that it may be reaching a point of failure. Over time webbing can and will break down, so double-check that your gear can keep you safe.
More Than Five Years Old
Replacing your gear because there is a better option isn’t for everyone, although we know many of you always want the latest and greatest. However, if your harness is over five years old, you should consider replacing it strictly because of how much gear technology has progressed.
We aren’t talking about just changing the colors or styles. Here at Ride Engine, we invest countless hours into research and development to consistently improve the performance of our gear. One of the fastest ways to level up your riding is to ensure you wear the correct harness. Don’t believe us? Give it a shot and report back. Chances are you don’t even notice how your older gear is holding you back till you try something new.
Your Body Has Changed
Over time, bodies change. Since this happens incrementally, it can also be hard to notice when your harness stops fitting. Have you become a marathon runner or a marathon eater? Either way, take time to check that your harness is fitting well. Things to check for:
● Without the spreader bar in place, the harness belt goes right above your hips and right below your ribs. For most people, this is directly across their navel.
● The spreader bar just overlaps the sides of the harness. You don’t want too much overlap or none at all.
● The harness hugs your waist well and just comes around the side of your waist. Like with the spreader bar, you don’t want too much or too little overlap.
● Harnesses riding up during your session. If, no matter what you do, you find yourself with your harness riding up, it is not fitting well.
Progression Or A New Discipline
Different harnesses serve different purposes. As you progress in your kiteboarding journey, you can find that you may want a different harness at different stages. Our Contour Seat harness can be great when you are learning and spending lots of time with your kite overhead. Also, the angle of pull from a seat harness can make getting your first rides easier.
If you are riding Big Air, you are going to want a rigid harness like the Elite Carbon that can provide you the support you need for high winds and kiteloops. If you have fallen in love with foiling and spend hours cruising around in light wind, a harness like the Contour Seat can make your sessions more enjoyable.