Upgrading your paragliding harness can sometimes feel like getting upgraded to First Class, minus the free booze. But finding the most comfortable rig in your budget often requires a little trial and error. Whether youre a new pilot buying gear for the first time, or a paragliding pro with hundreds of clocked hours, these tips can help you pick the best paragliding harness for your flying style.
1. Deciding on Protection
Assuming youre not in the market for a dinosaur, your choice of protective gear generally comes down to two options: airbag or foam. While airbag harnesses often weigh less and can be less bulky, they sometimes have trouble inflating fully before you accidentally eat the dirt on a bad launch. If youre new to flying, pick a harness with lots of foam back protection ideally in the 17-20 cm range to make your rig as forgiving as possible. More experienced paragliding pilots with established flying styles can generally fine tune gear as needed.
2. Selecting the Best Weight
Nothing can talk you out of a great day of flying quicker than the thought of lugging a beast of a glider uphill. If weight is an issue, consider purchasing a lightweight harness but only if it doesnt compromise on safety features like back protection or a reserve parachute. One way to shave off a few extra pounds from your harness is to retrofit it with a carbon seat plate.
3. Sizing for Comfort
Harnesses which are too small can lead to some serious discomfort, while harnesses that are too large can lead to dangerous sliding especially during deflations. Very long seat plates or bucket seats can also make it harder to get in and out of your rig, squashing your odds of making a graceful landing. When it doubt, try a test flight to make sure what sounds good on paper is also good for your flying style.
Changing a harness changes everything from the way the wing translates shifts in body weight, to simply how the glider feels in the air. While most harness manuals will recommend a setting for your chest strap, you can also try tightening it for more stability or loosening it for better pilot feedback. Some rigs let you adjust straps for extra back and leg support, depending on whether you like to fly laid back or upright. For maximum confidence, make sure you know what each strap does before taking your rig off the ground.
5. Used Vs. New
Buying a used harness is a lot like buying a used car: you never know exactly what its been through or how long it can go on at top performance before wearing out. But buying used can save you a serious chunk of cash if done intelligently. If you opt for a used harness, always remember to ask these three questions: how old is it, has it been inspected, and has it ever been repaired?
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