The Kiteboarding Harness is Your Third Hand...
Thanks to the kiteboarding harness, kiteboarding is a matter of balance rather than strength. The power of the kite is transferred through the harness into your body, which allows you easily to counterbalance its power. This is why kiteboarders can ride for such a long time. The rider’s body weight and posture balance the kite, instead of upper body strength, which is limited.
Because they are constantly being pulled, kiteboarding harnesses need to be comfortable. The two main styles used to kiteboard are:
Each of these harnesses has its comfort ups and downs – find out what they are below.
The Waist Harness
The waist harness wraps around the waist and supports the lower back. It is a very simple harness; to put it on you just need to attach and tighten the spreader bar.
Advantages of the Waist Harness
This style harness has the following advantages:
- Good range of motion. This harness is not bulky and provides freedom to move.
- More comfortable than some seat harnesses. Seat harnesses have straps that pass between the legs – if you are a guy, you know this can be dangerous!
Disadvantages of the Waist Harness
The downsides of this style kiteboarding harness include:
- They can ride up. If you use a harness that is poorly fitted, or if you fly with your kite high in the sky, the harness can ride up your torso. This is uncomfortable, and the further the harness moves up, the further it is from the body’s center of gravity, which is tiring.
If properly fitted, the waist harness does not ride up very much. It can ride up if you are a beginner and you keep the kite high in the wind window. In this position the kite pulls upwards, which can work the harness up towards your armpits. This is why most beginners start with a seat harness.
- The torso gets more of a workout than with the seat harness.
- They can put strain on the lower back. Some older people avoid the waist harness because it can put more strain on the lower back.
The Seat Harness
This kiteboarding harness is much like a pair of shorts or rock climbing harness. It has straps that pass between the legs that hold the harness in place. It takes a little more adjustment to get just right, but this is not a problem.
Advantages of the Seat Harness
Some advantages of this style of harness are:
- Will not ride up. The leg straps prevent this harness from riding up.
- Good for beginners. While learning, beginners keep the kite high in the wind window. The seat harness does not ride up, which is much more comfortable.
- Provides good leverage over the kite. For most people, this harness is positioned right at their center of gravity (hips or waist), which allows them to edge the board easier and more aggressively than a waist harness would.
- Easy for rotating tricks.
The body rotates around its center of gravity (COG). For most people, their center of gravity is around the waist or hips. Because the seat harness is so close to the COG, it does not provide any resistance when rotating. So, for a rotating trick, a seat harness makes it just a little easier!
- Comfort. Because they don’t ride up and are heavily padded, these harnesses are very comfortable.
Disadvantages of the Seat Harness
- They are bulky. Seat harnesses are bigger and bulkier than their waist harness counterparts.
- They don’t look very stylish (but hey, I’m sure we would rather kite!)
Your preferences will determine if you want a seat or waist harness. As a general rule, beginners are better suited with a seat harness – its one less thing that can go wrong.