The harness is an essential part of any Kitesurfer’s equipment. The entirety of the wing’s pull is concentrated through the accessory and therefore it must be perfectly fitted to one’s size. Take time to try out and compare different models which can be sorted into two main categories: Seat harnesses and belt harnesses.
Whether you are at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level, the choice of harness which corresponds to your practise and build is crucial to assure an optimum level of comfort. In effect, if the harness is not fitted properly, it can lead to serious back problems and over the course of the sessions can hurt or cause discomfort to the hips.
Generally, when choosing a kitesurf harness you should think about 3 key features:
- The style of riding (freestyling, casual riding, racing etc)
- The comfort
- The support
While the shape of the harnesses has not changed fundamentally in recent years, it is rather the materials that have improved significantly with the use of foam and other viscoelastic memory materials. They are becoming lighter, which is a definite advantage once the harness is wet as it can easily double in weight when you are sailing.
The three types of hardness: soft, medium, hard shell
The different brands currently offer three types of hardness on the market: soft, medium and hard shell. The soft harness offers great comfort to people who can compensate for the lack of rigidity of the harness with their musculature.
In contrast, the hard shell is equipped with a shell placed on the outside very rigid which compensates for the lack of musculature of the practitioner. The rear hull ensures that the harness does not compress the ribs and multiplies the points of support all around the pelvis. It is not always very comfortable, and it is also the most expensive type of harness.
Finally, the medium hardness is more suitable for most people. The internal or external structure consists of a plastic element (frame) that is more or less rigid. This concept is not new but has definitely proved its worth. Just remember to make sure that the loop is wide enough in relation to the width of the pelvis, so that the harness does not twist or bend during your kitesurfing sessions.
Have a look at our kitesurfing harness for beginners
Belt or Dorsal harnesses
The belt or dorsal harness offers a lot of freedom in movement, because it is not equipped with straps that pass between the legs. It is worn higher than the seat harness and must be perfectly adapted to the user so as not to go up under the arms.
It generates a great traction in the abdominal and is not recommended for beginners and people who do not have enough musculature. This type of harness is perfect for surfing the waves or freestyle. Note that thanks to the evolution of materials, belt harnesses have less and less tendency to go up under the arms and guarantee a low center of gravity. There is also a whole range of harness designed for the specific needs of women.
Check our belt harnesses for kitesurf
Often recommended for beginners in kitesurfing who tend to keep their kite high enough at the zenith, the seat harness has the advantage of not going up under the arms thanks to wide straps that pass between the legs (the subcutaneous). Its sitting position also reduces back pain. It encompasses the entire pelvis and thus multiplies the contact points while offering low rigidity.
With its very low center of gravity, it is ideal for kitesurfers practicing long distance, speed, foil, and is recommended for people of short stature. Indeed, they have a larger shock / border and can more easily cut the power of the wing, since the harness does not go up. There are also very fine models at the waist and with a dorsal arch specifically designed for women.
Check out the seat harnesses for kitesurf
How to choose your kitesurfing harness ?
It is necessary to measure one’s waist and to refer to the size charts of the manufacturers to choose a harness which corresponds to you. It should be snug or tight so that it does not go up under the arms (for a belt-type harness) or that the straps do not hurt you (for a seat harness).
Wearing a wetsuit or not has very little influence in choosing the right size of harness. In most cases, the wetsuits are not very thick, usually between 2mm and 5mm.
- If you practice freestyle instead, you will preferably choose a light and flexible harness with greater freedom of movement. Typically a belt harness offers the possibility of unhooking (unhook and hang up) more easily for certain figures.
- Freeriders and occasional riders will usually choose harder or medium harnesses in most cases to promote comfort of use.
Finally, in terms of safety, all harnesses are equipped with various locking systems or settings. Some offer a quick hitch system while others offer a simplified strap system. If the essential line cut is not supplied with the harness, you are always able to buy one separately.