Buying a paragliding harness

To illustrate how Flybubble’s buying service works, we follow the experience of Ben Holt. “I wanted an upgrade from my Advance Success 3 (which is an amazingly comfortable standard upright harness). Flybubble had what I wanted in stock in my size so I took the drive over to have a fitting session with Carlo. I had initially thought to have the harness posted to me as it’s a six hour round trip for me in the car. All I can say on that is, just do it!”

Carlo explains what goes on during a harness fitting session at Flybubble. “As well as the more obvious things like design, build quality, protection, features, weight, packing volume, aerodynamics and price, there’s also a significant variation between harnesses in sizing and body shape, so we stock several carefully selected brands to enable us to offer the best match for all pilots. This saves a lot of time in the long run, and is often the only way to ensure a perfect fit. It’s not unusual for pilots with similar height, weight, build and harness requirements to end up choosing different harnesses.”

The experience, requirements and preferences of individual pilots can vary greatly from one to another. It’s important to take the time to understand where each pilot is coming from.

Ben glides

In Ben’s case although he’d only been flying for just over a year he was clearly smitten with flying and has been doing exceptionally well, managing around 100 hours airtime since learning to fly! Ben bought his first harness second hand, without the opportunity to try it: a reversible harness/rucksack. He didn’t get on with it. It didn’t fit him well and wasn’t comfortable. He found it awkward on the ground and not good in air. He didn’t like the leg strap arrangement, which he found too fiddly and restrictive to movement. He found that for a new pilot like him a reversible harness/rucksack was too much of a compromise in comfort, durability and general ease of use, for only slightly less weight and volume than a standard harness. Having an ill-suited, ill-fitting harness hindered Ben’s enjoyment of his flying and progression as a pilot.

After struggling with this reversible harness for a while, Ben decided to replace it with a standard harness. Ben found the Advance Success 3 much more comfortable, the ease of use better, and he much preferred the simpler leg strap arrangement (less restrictive). The Success 3 helped Ben’s flying progression and enjoyment, rather than hindering it.

Advance Success 3 in action

Having great, well-matched kit, Ben found that his flying improved. He did his first XC from Bell Hill and got all the way to the coast at Swanage! He loved this experience and was bitten by the XC bug. He took part in a couple of British Club Challenge (BCC) rounds, which he really enjoyed.

He noticed that lots of pilots had pod harnesses. They were very happy with them, and recommended he get one. Ben did some big hikes in some places, and was envious of some other’s much lighter and more compact packs. Ben wanted improved performance, without having to upgrade to a hotter wing. He also wanted improved comfort and warmth, for longer and higher flights, and less weight and a smaller pack to carry. He quite liked that most pods generally include an integrated flight deck, too.

Carlo explains the appeal. “Good pod harnesses offer less drag (if set up correctly), improving sink rate and glide performance, especially at speed. Many pilots find the naturally more supine position of pods more comfortable, especially for longer flights. A good quality speedbag (the leg faring part of a pod harness) significantly reduces wind chill on the legs and lower body, helping the whole body keep warmer for longer.”

Ben had the foot stirrup fitted to his Success 3, and found that he was always using this and flying in a supine position anyway. So, after 100 hours of airtime, it seemed to make sense, and be the right time, for him to upgrade to a pod harness.

Advance Lightness 2

Ben already knew that he liked Advance build quality, and their Lightness 2 pod harness seemed to fit the bill nicely. Hanging up in Flybubble’s simulator, it soon became evident that it fitted him like a dream, although it needed some careful adjustment to get it just right.

Ben enjoyed the process. “Carlo spent the best part of two hours carefully hang-testing and adjusting the pod to suit me, not to mention fitting and test-throwing my reserve, showing me how to best get into and out of the pod and making sure I’d mastered the technique before going on to demonstrate the best way to pack it all in the included light pack bag. I even came away with a few words of wisdom on cross country flying!”

The Lightness 2 fulfilled all of Ben’s requirements and – most importantly – fitted him perfectly. It is top quality and cleverly designed. For example, it has small yet important details like the speedbag adjustment lines with simple knots that don’t slip. Ben also liked the integrated flight deck on the Lightness 2, which sits at a good angle for viewing your instruments, and the fact that Advance has made an excellent dedicated rucksack for it, the Lightpack 2.

Ben's first flights in the Lightness 2

Ben had a great experience with it. “The next morning I had my first couple of flights in my new harness. Carlo’s tuition and care spent adjusting paid off as I effortlessly got into the pod on both takeoffs. As I’d heard from other reviews, the Advance Lightness 2 is very comfortable and warm. Yes it’s an expensive bit of kit, but after those couple of flights the cost is forgotten. Well worth it! Thank you Carlo and Nancy for the excellent customer care!”

This is really why we come to work every day, it’s our payoff: happy pilots. It’s great when we can apply our experience to help people. We know how frustrating it can be to have the wrong gear, and in some cases it can even become unsafe. If you buy a harness from us you’ll get the right match, along with our guidance and after-sales service.

Buying your first harness, or ready to upgrade? Check out Flybubble’s complete range of harnesses.

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Flybubble - Your paragliding gear specialists

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