Ozium First impression
It’s really light! The Ozium is not unusual in that respect as there are a number of sub 3kg pod harnesses on the market , but for me a saving of over 5kg against my previous harness is impressive and I am really sold by this aspect. The weight (or lack of it) simply makes moving around whilst kitted up so much more graceful, not to mention saving my back from hefting around a very heavy kit bag.
The Ozium in use
I’ve had the harness for 4-5 months, bought as a replacement for a 12 year old Sup Air competition pod harness. As I did not test any comparable harnesses before buying this one, the review is simply my impressions rather than a full comparison.
Price is really good compared to the competition; my thanks go to Ozone for making it a much more enjoyable purchase as the thought of paying over a grand for a harness did not sit well with me.
So far the harness seems to withstand a reasonable amount of wear; the material is very light weight, particularly the pod which is made of a stretchy lycra-like material that has started to roughen up. As the pod is replaceable, I’m not that bothered and the issue seems a fair compromise for the cost / weight.
Flying with shorts is now a thing of the past as the thin pod lines pull out my leg hairs when using the speedbar, so it‘s a case of waxing or long trousers from now on. Apart from that comfort seems to be very good up to my maximum so far of 3 hours in constant use, hopefully this year I will test it on many longer flights.
The lack of a seat plate does not seem to create discomfort, sometimes I can feel compression against my hips but it has not annoyed as yet. Pilots with wider hips might feel it more, so it is probably worth a hang check if that is likely apply to you.
A great feature of the Ozium is the ability to adjust in flight, which does help both with getting in (leave it on a looser more laid back setting) and being able to sit more upright in spicy air or when scratching.
The reserve location and handle seems easy to get to when required, the handle being particularly protruding and falling nicely to hand whenever I’ve pretended to need it in a hurry. I also like the two very simple clips that hold the leg straps in place, fewer buckles means less to forget, as well as being lighter.
An integral instrument panel has led to me getting rid of my flight deck, which is one less piece of kit (and 4 less buckles to deal with), not to mention further weight shedding. The instrument panel is another piece of absolutely minimalist design. One small flat hook and loop fastener flap attached to the pod with a zip at one end and a loop of elastic cord at the other, that you put over your head so that it uses your neck as a support. Perhaps not the most luxurious solution, but simple and effective and I find it works well, being much easier to get the right angle for the instruments than the flight deck was, whilst being quick to connect / disconnect to the harness.
The harness comes with two bottle pockets, and a pouch under the seat plate which will take water or a good size lunch and a book for long retrieves. One drawback compared to having a flight deck though is that I can’t access the lunch in flight.
What could be improved
The pod blows underneath me so I can’t get my feet in after take-off. Many pilots cure this issue with a bungee attached to the pod / foot.
One of the four pod lines is held in place at its end by a button. As a lot of weight is transferred through the footplate onto the line, unsurprisingly the button failed as it is secured with standard thread. The problem is easily sorted with an additional knot in front of the button which then holds fast against the pulley.
Lastly, the foot plate still gets caught between my ankles whilst kiting along the hill, I don’t know if any Pod Harness design has cracked that problem, but I’ll put it out there in the hope that someone has, because I’m bored of bruised ankles.
The lack of weight does not seem to entail much compromise in functionality or comfort and I’m well pleased with it; the Ozone Ozium gets a ‘highly recommended’ report from me.
Dickon Walker (2015/02/24).