Ah, I think I can be helpful on this topic! If not to OP, then to other people looking for a comfortable harness. I've tried SO many harnesses including the flagship models from both Mystic and RE. The Mystic Stealth looks the coolest, but ultimately ended up being one of the least comfortable. In my case, it even injured me. The firmness of it and lack of cushioning gave me some ribcage bruising after some hard crashes. The RE Carbon Elite had better cushioning, but also seemed to slide up more easily - the fabric is pretty slippery. However, the RE harness I tried was a couple of years old so maybe they've made some improvements.
To make a long story short, I ended up, perhaps surprisingly, settling on an AK Ether V2 (L) and RE Unity Mega Bar (10"; medium). I weigh 72 kg and have a size 31 PANT size waist (more on this in a minute). Through all my experimentation, I came to two realizations: 1) soft harnesses are more comfortable and won't squeeze you IF you get a spreader bar that is wide enough; and 2) correct sizing is everything. The Ether is marketed for foilers and for its travel benefits. I got it for foiling, but on a whim, tried it for twin tipping and found that it worked not only well enough but better than anything else I have tried. But you MUST get the sizing right.
1) I bought into the whole concept of the hardshell harness until I realized that on crashes they hurt more, they slip up more easily, and unless you're really fortunate with your body shape, they don't conform to your body as well as a soft-shell thus are less comfortable. More cushioning makes it feel more comfortable, but at the same time, makes the harness much more likely to slide up. If the cushioning compresses easily enough to conform to your soft body, it compresses quite easily under kiting forces and allows the harness to slip. The Manera Halo has an interesting concept and I actually liked this harness a lot. However, I am not a fan of their clips to attach the bar, and the lining has this sunken grid pattern that doesn't grip very well in my experience. I hope they improve upon the design because I think the concept is promising - the comfort of a soft-shell with the outer support of a hardshell.
2) Correct sizing is not as easy as it seems and it took me awhile to figure out. First off, do NOT go by your pant waist size. That is not where you wear your waist harness. Measure your belly size and take into account the thickness of your wetsuit and/or impact vest. While I wear a 31 waist in pants, I found that my belly was close to 34" and depending on wetsuit/impact vest, was up to 36". As far as I have seen, the RE size chart is the only one that tells you to measure your waist at your belly button level. EDIT: Okay, just checked and the Mystic size chart now also states this. About the "wings" on the bar - you are not getting any benefit from these wings unless they are sunk in as far as possible. The wings on the newer bars also help in resisting torsion, but ONLY if they are pushed in all the way. I see a lot of people with small bars on the front where the wings are into the inserts by an inch or two at most, and this does absolutely nothing.
You also want to get as wide a bar as possible so that the harness can't squeeze - esp important if you get a soft harness like I did. But not so wide that the ends of the bar are so far away from your body that tightening the straps results in a front-back tightness but side-to-side movement of the bar is too loose. Ideally, you want the straps to attach to the bar (where the straps wrap around the strap insert) to be close to perpendicular (when viewed from above). The reason for this is, think about how the straps attach to the bar if the bar is small. It attaches closer to parallel or in-line with the bar. There is significantly less resistance to upwards twisting of the bar in this scenario, regardless of how tight you cinch down the straps because the straps aren't rigid. If perpendicular (or close to it), the lower strap is more effective at resisting the upwards torsion of the bar. I found that this helps a LOT in alleviating the upwards slippage of the harness. I will note that the new RE Unity Ladder Lock straps work way better because of this principle - they are rigid and resist torsion. I've tried the new RE Saber v2 harness and it's pretty good but I still like the larger surface area of the large AK Ether.
I have also tried the AK Ether harness in a medium with a 12" Unity bar. This worked well also (more perpendicular straps - more torsion resistance), but the surface area of the harness on the medium was significantly less than the large. And on the water it felt like less back support. The AK Ether harness in large with a 12" Unity bar did not work because with the wings fully sunk in I reached the tightening limit of the straps and the harness was still too loose.
Hopefully what I described above wasn't too hard to follow. But correct harness sizing I think is something that isn't really widely discussed and in the shop, they tend to just tell you to go with what "feels comfortable". The problem is everything feels fine in the store. Hanging off a control bar in the store doesn't tell you much. In actual usage on the water, it's a very different story. IMHO, (waist) harness fitting is hard to get right but at the same time, absolutely critical to maximizing your time on the water while minimizing discomfort or even injury.
Last edited by lifeinthehood
on Thu Oct 06, 2022 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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