Advance EASINESS 2 Review (by Ed Bewley)
I borrowed the harness from Flybubble. The standard Advance speed system was fitted, with non-rigid foot loops, and a Companion reserve installed. The total weight was 3.42 Kg in this configuration.
First impressions were of a quality product, as one would expect of Advance, with everything designed for a specific purpose.
I packed my Iota into its compression bag, and unzipped and reversed the harness, a process that could not have been simpler. Fitting the compression bag into the rucksack was straightforward, and there was plenty of room left for spare clothing in the main compartment. I usually carry a water bladder, and the pocket and loops on the shoulder straps were easy to use in the rucksack mode and similar to most Advance harnesses. There were plenty of alternative storage spaces, including a useful zipped pocket on the waist strap. The adjustable helmet net can be extracted from its zipped pocket, and is very easy to use, and very secure. Once loaded, the harness was easy to put on, and the single-pull waist strap simple to adjust, as were the shoulder straps. The pack sits high and close, and feels very comfortable. I had not planned an extended walk, but due to unforeseen circumstances was able to experience walking with it over a fair distance, and would have been happy to walk with it all day.
Once on the cliffs, the unpacking process was as straightforward as the packing. The lightweight karabiners were easy to operate, and the risers and speed system were quickly attached. The water bladder had a pocket in the backpack, and an exit hole (just big enough for my oversize mouthpiece protector) in the fabric. All the other paraphernalia was easily stowed in the backpack, with the exception of hard and knobbly items and edible things, which fitted neatly into the optional chest bag that can be clipped into the chest strap. Doing the harness up is also simple: two buckles, one from the outer side of each split leg support, pass through larger buckles below each karabiner, then the chest strap and chest bag are clipped into place.
Launching is easy, with the harness allowing a good head down position, and it stays close to the body during the transition to flight, with no wriggling backward being required. Once in the air, the comfort of the harness becomes evident as soon as you allow yourself to relax back into it rather than taking up a pod-type attitude out of habit. I did not feel the need for a stirrup. The wind was quite light at first and staying required a fair amount of positive manoeuvring. The harness was very easy to weightshift in, despite the lack of rigid seat plate, and I soon felt very much at home in it in scratchy conditions. A few top landings involving a short walk back up to launch revealed that on steep up slopes, it was possible for the speed system to trip you up unless you gathered it with the lines.
As the wind picked up slightly I was able to get more height and try the speed system. Catching the loop with the heel was in practice not difficult, and the application was smooth through the first step. Transferring to the second step needed a bit of care and practice while watching the Brummel hooks, as it was easy to get a marked asymmetric effect. Once refined, the technique became very straightforward, and it was possible to get the pulleys right over.
As the wind improved, the Brighton run began to look possible, and the air was very buoyant and steady as far as Saltdean, when it became prudent to beat a retreat. But when I turned east, the big cliffs were not working! I had to land on what turned out to be beach of bolders (though the sign said that nudism was not allowed). So I had an opportunity to lay my kit out on the pebbles and fold it up, then test the rucksack on awkward walking terrain. The bathers were impressed by the comfort and neatness of my pack and the way I could easily turn round in tight places without catching my rear on the rocks. They were also impressed by the speed of my exit.
This harness has many positive points, and I was unable on short acquaintance to find any negatives. For pilots who want light weight, good protection, flexibility and comfort, I would recommend trying the Easiness 2.