Advance OMEGA XALPS 2 Review

The Advance OMEGA XALPS 2 (OXA2) is made for adventure and racing, and builds on the success of the winning original OMEGA XALPS (OXA) design (1st and 2nd place, Red Bull Xalps 2015). Light, fast, and with balanced handling, the original OXA was hard to beat. Has it been improved upon?

First impressions (Caedmon Mullin, Flybubble team pilot)

Having lugged my Niviuk Artik 4 on a vol-biv trip along the Pyrenees last year I was in the market for something lighter and ultimately opted for the Advance OMEGA XALPS 2 (OXA2). I've been flying it for a little over a month now, recently managing to snatch a couple of short early spring XC flights from Dartmoor.

The OXA2 is my first light-weight wing and at 3.7kg it's almost 2kg lighter than my old Artik. That's enough for me to stop halfway into a 30 minute walk-in to double check I'd actually packed it! Along with the reduction in weight it's amazing how much space it frees up in your bag, even if you're not looking for a wing for hike & fly you'll no doubt appreciate the extra space. I’m now down to 100kg all up (flying the 24 size, 90-110kg). The fabric of the wing is obviously a bit thinner than a standard glider and I imagine this makes it a little easier to tear (although it seems to be holding up just fine).

Advance OMGEA XALPS 2 Review
Photo by Ollie Bear Clothier

OMEGA XALPS 2: On the ground

Once laid out the wing is eager to fly, even without any pressure on the A's it comes up quickly but without any obvious desire to overshoot. Ideal behaviour for a wing designed to help you fly from little, unofficial sites during a vol biv trip. Kiting it is also easy, it feels incredibly stable above your head and requires minimal input to keep it there.

OMEGA XALPS 2: In the air

That stability continues after takeoff, it's agile and gives a plenty of feedback but also has a reassuring solidity in rough air. I flew my Artik with half a wrap but the OXA2's brake lines seem a little shorter, in fact kind of the perfect length for me. I'm giving it the respect you should a new wing, especially an EN-D but so far it's been very friendly. Thermalling is comfortable and while I'm not yet reading the feedback it's giving me as well as I did my old wing I won't be shy about pointing it at some stronger spring thermals!

Advance OMGEA XALPS 2 Review: first impressions
Photo by Chris Girling

On bar it's really fast and Advance have added some nice little handles for pitch control while accelerated. They pull C's and to a lesser extent B's via a little pulley system. This feels great, when you combine this with the speed system the entire profile of the wing is being changed in a way which seems to make a lot of sense.

OMEGA XALPS 2: In summary

Overall it's a pleasure to fly, with rock solid stability, the performance you'd expect and a weight which makes hiking up the hill a joy… almost.

Find out more about the OMEGA XALPS 2

First impressions (Greg, Flybubble Crew)

I flew the OMEGA XALPS 2 size 23 (80-97 kg) at 88 kg for an hour in light spring thermals at low altitude.

Advance OMGEA XALPS 2 Review: Greg

OMEGA XALPS 2: Construction

The OXA2 has some enhancements in construction: 69 cells (up from 63), aspect ratio 7.05 (up from 6.9), 80 lines attachment points (down from 104). Although it looks similar (skinny leading edge with shallow shark nose), the OXA2 has a very different profile to the 1, especially the leading edge. The cell openings are less pronounced and the camber of the aerofoil has changed.

OMEGA XALPS 2: On the ground

Even more so than the original OMEGA XALPS (which I own), it floats up from the ground without needing to use the risers. This is useful for light winds, and it also means if you’re kiting uphill the wing stays ‘alive’ and can be kept off the ground surface easily. In strong wind the light fabric flaps off the ground and can create problems, as it is hard to pin it down with the brakes without getting the trailing edge flying up and over, leading to tip cravates. In most conditions it’s very easily to inflate and launch, so you’re unlikely to spend much time on the ground.

The wing seems slightly more demanding to keep in a kiting position because it stalls earlier and the tips bend back more.

The launch speed seemed slightly higher. I asked Advance if the trim speed was higher.

Silas Bosco (Advance Design team) replied: “The trim speed is quite the same on both gliders, but the weight range has changed and the OXA2 is even more optimised for fast flying. We also tried to reduce the effect of ‘getting lifted off the ground too early’ in strong wind takeoffs.”

Advance OMGEA XALPS 2 Review: gliding
Photo by Chris Girling

OMEGA XALPS 2: In the air

I felt an instant good connection with the wing. It responded fast to brake input, and I was able to turn on small cores as they came past – I had the feeling of cupping my hand (inner wingtip) in the lift and swinging around on that point, which is an improvement on the OXA which has a more delayed turn (especially when striking bullet cores) that requires deeper brake input to get a similar result.

The turns give a smooth linear feeling. If you push aggressively the wing will balance out and calm the energy, making it undemanding in rough conditions, with a slightly restrained feeling.

I noticed that the speedbar riser travel was less than on the 1, and with the outer As being pulled down less as well due to new gearing I was concerned that the top speed would be slightly reduced (albeit with better glide) on the OXA2.

Advance Xalps 2 review: looking up

Silas reassured me: “The OXA2 has a very efficient aerofoil which accelerates very easily with much less speed travel than the original OXA. That’s why we could reduce the speed travel a lot while keeping the top speed and performance high. Another very nice effect of that is the very light speed bar pressure.”

Big ears were easy to initiate, but not entirely stable, wanting to flap open some of the time. If you get the balance of controls just right they give a steady descent. Wingovers felt precise and speedy.

The stall point seems to arrive earlier than on the 1. The wing also rotates more easily on stall entry, making it slightly more demanding. Silas at Advance explained: “This is caused by the new aerofoil and the new tensions which give more performance and a better penetration against the wind.”

Overall the OMEGA XALPS 2 made me feel confident, calm and adventurous. It’s fun and agile to fly, solid and sweet-natured, and has high performance.

OMEGA XALPS 2: Who’s it for?

The OMEGA XALPS 2 is ideally suited for hike-and-fly racing (X-Pyr, Xalps, Bordairline), bivi adventurers, seasoned XC pilot world travellers, and experienced pilots who are determined to get their pack weight minimised. The OXA2 is for advanced pilots only as it is slightly more advanced than the previous model, offering more performance and aspect ratio. For suitable pilots, the OXA2 will seem solid with relatively low pilot demands, but with a high level of feedback and the typical balanced responses of an Advance wing.

Find out more about the Advance OMEGA XALPS 2

OMEGA XALPS 2: Video review

Check out our ‘behind the scenes’ review which explains the procedures during testing the XALPS 2.

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