At A Glance
Manera has been one of the few companies to not fully embrace the popular hardshell design that has become so universal in the harness world. Now we can finally see what they have been working on as an alternative, and it's very impressive.
Behind the scenes, they have been developing the Halo. A harness designed to take the benefits of a hardshell and marry them with the benefits of a softshell. It's taken a long time to develop, technically it still isn't available in the shops, but it will be soon. It's fantastic to see companies taking a different approach and not just following the crowds.
The theory is sound; the spreader bar combines with the solid piece on the back of the harness. This creates a ring, or Halo, around the rider through which all the force is applied. However, as the ring at the back doesn't contact the rider, the forces stay on the ring even under load and not on your body.
The key to the design is the spreader bar and the ring at the back, making a perfect circle around your body. This means the fit is crucial, so be sure to try this harness on in a store before you buy. If you don't get the fit right then, you will find pressure points on your hips, or if it's too big, it will move on your body.
The other big news is the harness components are fully interchangeable. Manera has always been looking for ways to lessen their impact on the environment, and the Halo aims to go a step further. All the parts are interchangeable and replaceable. So, if you break something, or it gets worn, you can replace it easily. In 3-4 years, if the memory foam is looking untidy, simply buy a new insert and make your harness look new again.
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On The Water
The first time using the Halo, I was really intrigued to see how the ring at the back would work. Would it crush into my back under load, would the harness fulfil its remit of being super comfy, would it render my favourite hardshell obsolete?
The first session certainly made me a believer. The ring around your back doesn't really move at all; even when overpowered, there is still a gap between the load point and your body. This means the part of the harness you interact with is soft and flexible, making it super comfortable to wear.
The buckles and webbing are easy to crank tight; it's actually relatively easy to over tighten too. However, as the load on this harness is away from your body, you don't need to overtighten it to stop it from rotating or moving. A snug fit on the beach rather than a tight fit is the way to go here.
The memory foam interior is super comfortable against your back too, it's a bit of a strange sensation as there is minimal load on your body. The plastic shell that sits outside the foam is hard on the sides and softer in the middle, allowing a good deal of flex. All in all, it's an incredibly light and comfortable harness - if you get the size right.
We had a few testers try this, and those who were a little larger found it had pressure points on the hips; Manera are very particular about sizing, and essentially, the outer ring has to fit around you. Otherwise, the concept won't work. I'm usually a medium in Manera harnesses but would probably size up to a large for the Halo. As we said right at the beginning, get the size right.
It's great to see some real innovation and something that works really well. If you have the correct size, the outer ring takes the strain, leaving you comfortable and free of any pressure from the harness. We love the modular, replaceable concept, which is good for the environment. It's also straightforward to change from the hook to the rope slider, and all the parts are included in the box.
If you are in the market for a new harness, then be sure to try one on and check the fit. You will be rewarded with a comfort level second to none.
This review was in Issue 90 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Manera
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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!