I inspected a demonstration harness at Advance’s HQ in Switzerland. It’s a very sturdy reversible harness with excellent protection and great carrying comfort.
In Advance, product design is always the result of a team collaboration. In this case, Bruno led the design team for the harness development, and he provided an in-depth walkthrough. I was struck by how knowledgeable he was about it, which is a result of the thoughtful design process that evolved from his use of the product in the mountains around Thun.
Advance make excellent backpacks. The carrying comfort is seldom matched, because most competitors don’t do such a good job of understanding the ergonomics and preventing fabric distortion under load. In backpack configuration, the Progress 3 has an adequate internal volume, enough for a standard sized paraglider, helmet and jacket. There’s room on the outside of the bag if you want to carry bottles of water, snacks, hiking poles, and maps.
The top net pocket is a great feature, giving you the flexibility to secure your helmet outside the packing space, with hardly any weight penalty. Clever reinforcing in side pockets prevents damage from rocks.
It’s only when you carry such a bag on a lengthy hike that you appreciate details like the side access pockets which allow you to grab that energy bar or pack of nuts without having to offload the whole bag. And that zipped waist pocket that keeps the car keys and money secure.
The main zip is strong and thick, but it’s worth getting the packed size of your wing as small as possible using something like the Advance Compressbag to reduce the pressure on the zip.
The zip on the back pocket of the harness is a slimmer zip with a clever plastic guide that prevents it grabbing at the fabric. Small details like this really make you happy when you’re tired and cold, up high in the mountains.
The new karabiners tilt diagonally away from the gate during opening, leaving you with more space to get a riser into. This might not be a big deal if you keep your wing connected, but consider the alternative use you might make of the Progress 3 – as a tandem passenger harness. Spreader bars can be bulky, and these Edelrid FORAS gates are easy to connect into. The backpack would offer more than enough space for all your helmets, jackets, gloves, instruments, snacks and water, leaving the pilot with only the main wing and harness to carry.
The tried-and-tested get-up system buckles allow for quick and hassle free connection.
There’s some new reinforcing under the legs which help to keep the legs separated and allow you to slide in and out better because they keep the harness flat in this region.
Your camelback (drinking system) is secured in a backpack pocket.
The new rescue system is ideally positioned behind the knees, allowing the back protection to remain large and uncompromised after a reserve deployment. The closure system is the same as on the Easiness 2, easy to close and great to extract in a hurry.
The protection is impressive. It is slightly deeper than before, but fundamentally different in construction. Whereas the Progress used to rely on airflow to fill an airchamber, the Progress 3 has an expanding foam cushion, a light and large version of the traditional mousse bag. This is superior protection, available all the time, on launch, on landing, during reserve deployment, whenever you need it. In backpack configuration, you can squeeze all the air out of the foam and you get a slim cushion that keeps your pack volume low.
The Progress 3 offers more comfort and protection than the Progress 2, at a similar weight and level of robustness. It is an incredibly well-designed system that minimises your total kit weight while compromising very little on the protection and comfort. It is precisely manufactured with sturdy materials and meticulous attention to detail. It makes a great choice for beginners and for regular pilots who want to enjoy hike-and-fly outings for cross country where exploring is more important than glide performance. It is also a good option for tandem pilots who want their passenger to help carry some of the load for exploring distant peaks or sharing volbiv adventures.