Technical soft goods manufacturer ION is a sister company to foil and wing manufacturers Duotone and Fanatic; it makes perfect sense with the sport of wingfoiling firmly and rapidly establishing itself that they begin to cater specifically for the wingfoil market. With inflatable wings now changing to stiffer materials, and people riding with more loaded sails for freestyle and racing, it makes sense to build a harness that offers a high level of support and load distribution around your back.
If you’re from a windsurf or kitesurf background, what you’ll first notice is that this wing harness is exceptionally light. If you imagine a minimal hardshell kite harness, you are not far off the mark. The molded 3D back plate borrows its design from the ION Riot kite harness. The flex index system is also carried over from the kite range, with the Rogue coming in at a fairly stiff 14 out of 20 rating.
Entry and exit is quick and simple with two spring-loaded buckles securing a smooth 25mm wide webbing, very similar in feel to a car seatbelt. This runs through the spreader pad and hook and is easily replaceable. The spreader pad has substantial tabs both sides, slotting neatly into the rear hardshell, which makes for a secure and integrated locked-in feeling whilst wearing it.
The front hook system is innovative, with two lengths of shock cord aligning the hook centrally when unloaded. If you want to twist your body to get upwind more comfortably for instance, the hook can slide approximately six inches left or right along its webbing over a lightly EVA padded composite spreader bar pad. There’s also the option to run the webbing through some extra slots in the back pad and lock it centrally, as well as removing the bungees so the hook slides freely with no self-centering function. The composite backplate, whilst thin and minimal in profile, is remarkably stiff. It has some soft, but highly textured and grippy EVA foam that locks well to a wetsuit; a centrally placed gap in the padding runs vertically to allow space for your spine. The foam is non-water absorbent, keeping the weight down to around 700g even when wet.
The front hook is a wide injection molded affair composed from a mixture of 30% carbon and plastic with a wide mouth, which makes getting in and out of the harness loop extremely simple. The soft edged composite construction, and its ability to articulate, should mean it’s going to be far less likely to damage your board in an accident. Available separately is a matching adjustable Vario harness line with a webbing buckle, allowing you to trim 16cm of loop according to your wing size or preference.
A steel front leash point integrates into the hook webbing which can easily be moved to the right side. At the rear a PU tube spans across horizontally, much like a kite handle pass system for anyone that’s familiar, which would be an excellent place to put a board leash, or it could even hint at another potential direction of wing freestyle.
Most of the wing harnesses we’ve seen so far have been relatively basic; ION have definitely upped the game into something far more substantial from a technical and support perspective but remaining light and minimal, and this is probably one of the most feature rich wing-specific harnesses we’ve seen to date. It’s indicative that the sport is progressing fast, and the loading and extremities of power used are increasing. ION have taken all their knowledge, built up from a massive legacy of kite and windsurf harnesses, and combined this into an intelligently designed and adaptable piece of equipment. RB
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