At A Glance
The EXO harness from Manera burst onto the scene two years ago; it radically changed the way harnesses were made, utilising an exoskeleton to put the frame of the harness on the outside and all the padding on the inside. Manera also worked with a human kinetics science laboratory to test their products to ensure they could make the most comfortable harness possible.
The first incarnation was an instant hit, and despite the cost, they won fans around the world. I found it to be the most comfortable harness on the market for my body shape; it is worth mentioning that harnesses are very personal things, so be sure to try one on before you buy.
In fact, I liked it so much when I took a different harness with me on a long trip and found it not to my tastes, I paid some hard earned cash to get an EXO shipped out to my location! 2016 sees some big updates for the harness; Julian Salles and the team wanted to make it more durable and comfortable than before.
Manera have used a new range of materials to achieve their goals, in turn, this has led to a striking design that echoes the EXO of old, but looks totally up to date with a polished finish. With six different colours in the 2016 range, it’s hard not to find a harness to fall in love with.
At the core of the harness is the Energy Dispersion Frame, this isn’t just the PU moulding you can see on the back, it integrates with the webbing, buckles and the spreader bar to create an external shell around your body. Sizing is important as Manera recommend having a minimal amount of webbing between the buckle and the spreader bar. There are six sizes in the range from XS to XXL and each spreader bar is sized to suit each harness.
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New for 2016 is the Nest Foam, which is used to improve the comfort, this is exceedingly light and offers superior pressure absorption to further improve the feel of the EXO against your body. The harness has also been designed with the human bodies ergonomics in mind. The foam is pre-shaped to offer a perfect fit and curve around your body, helping it to stay in place on the water.
Features from last year, such as the Down Hold System and Tuck Flaps, which keep spreader bar low and in place are back. As is the Leash Release safety feature and the Seamless Neoprene Area to stop any chafing when worn against your skin.
On The Water
The EXO from Manera is one of the most comfortable harnesses I have ever worn. I’ve been a fan of this harness since it was first launched and the 2016 model only deepens the love affair. The beauty with the EXO is that the Energy Dispersion Frame works so well there are no pressure points or places you can feel the harness “pinching” at all. When it is sized properly and it fits perfectly, I don’t think there is a more comfortable harness on the market for me. This year the Nest Foam feels even better on your back than the previous version, and we still love this harness against the skin in hot countries when you are wearing board shorts. The Neoprene Seamless Area does a great job of minimising any chaffing of the skin.
The Tuck Flaps and Down Hold System keep the hook in place, even in the heaviest of wipeouts. The new EVA bar pad is comfortable too, after wearing this for a few months I’ve not noticed any issues or areas where it has proved to be anything other than silk against your skin.
Obviously, there is some noise in the marketplace about sliding spreader bars at the moment. The EXO has a fixed hook but is designed to twist a little in the waves around your body, because the Energy Dispersion Frame is flexible this doesn’t cause any issues. In fact, when the harness does move on your body it flexes and remains comfortable at all times.
I am told Manera are working on a sliding hook system at the moment to improve the manoeuvrability for wave riding. However, when you consider Mitu Monteiro and Raph Salles both wear this exact harness, then you can rest assured it won’t be holding you back out there! There is one area which I am assured Manera are working on, and that is a sliding hook set up for the riders out there that prefer that style.
I still rate this as one of the most comfortable harnesses on the market; it’s not given me any reasons to not love it. I’ve got the 1st, and 2nd generations in the garage both looking exceedingly well used and I expect this one is going to get a similar amount of treatment over the next year or so.
We love the updates for 2016 which offer improved durability and more polished overall look. Try the EXO on in a shop and see how it feels for yourself, although be warned, you might end up not taking it off!
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By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!