A well-fitting harness is essential for a long, fun and comfortable day on the water. Read on for an in-depth look at harnesses, and insights that we hope will help in your choice of harness
Harness Style - Waist or Seat?
The traditional view is that seat harnesses are for racing; and waist harnesses are for freestyle, wave and freeride sailing. By and large this is also the current view, but ultimately it is down to personal choice.
A seat hugs your backside and has straps around the upper legs to help keep it there. The low hook help control power.
Waist harnesses go around the lower torso area, and because of their higher hook positions encourage a stance that is more upright or 'on the toes'. This make them the preferred choice for more 'active' sailing disciplines - such as freestyle or wavesailing - where ease and speed of hooking-in / unhooking is very helpful.
Most waist harnesses nowadays are made from pre-thermoformed foam materials that do not absorb water. The thermoformed material is also relatively resistant to sliding when compared to older 'classic' harnesses that were mostly made from polyester based materials.
Classic build harnesses constructed from polyester have a price advantage of around 30% and - when dry - may be lighter than thermoform harnesses.
Harness Back Support
The support felt will depend upon where it is directed and the size of the area supported. Some harnesses have plastic reinforcement plates to spread the support over a wider area, other harnesses have less support to allow for more unrestricted upper body movement.
Harness Hook Height
Hook height is largely a matter of personal preference.
Seat harnesses designed for racing have the lowest hook heights, allowing for very free upper body movement and the ability to hold down lots of power. Freeride seat harnesses have a medium height hook that allows for more back support.
Waist harnesses have the highest hook positions, and are the most popular choice with sailors who are not dedicated racers. The high hook gives a very direct feel and allows for easy power-on / power-off transitions - meaning that waist harnesses are well suited to manoeuvre-orientated sailing.
Note that waist harnesses, if strapped too tight around your middle, can impede easy breathing. However, a snugly fitting harness - that is not over-tight - will also do a good job of keeping your lower back and kidneys warm in winter.
Harness 'Key Pocket'
A perhaps useful feature on some harnesses - though not necessarily for keys with electronics inside - though good for a spare length of rope in any case!
Why Choose Unifiber Harnesses
We use thermoforming technology on most of our waist harness models. Structural layers are bonded together to achieve the desired support and form. Soft foam on the inside provides protection and comfort, and an outer laminate delivers durability.
The lightweight, figure-hugging designs absorb less water and mold snugly to your body contours. For ultimate support and a 'naked' feeling, look no further.
All Unifiber harnesses except the Waist FL feature a quick-release spreader bar. The Waist FL priortises freedom of movement and for this reasons is specced with a sliding hook system.
With a range covering all hook heights, waist and seat options, and high grade components: bars, buckles and straps - you'll find that Unifiber harnesses are not only a perfect fit, but also deliver on quality and value.