I don’t think you can truly give an opinion on this subject unless you are proficient with both.
So many articles I’ve read go on about how uncool and nappy like seat harnesses are and really don’t go into the benefits and like wise with waist. I’m my experience both can make you look pretty uncool. But there are some genuine pro’s and cons to both and it is my opinion that you should be able to use and get on with both to be an all rounder.
So the seat harness does look like a nappy, if that’s your soul concern, buy a pair of harness shorts.
I’m just gonna say it, I’ve got big boobs. Which, when your learning to kite in a waist harness can make you feel pretty rediculous and uncomfortable. No one likes holding a kite at 12 with your nipples in your nostrils…
So to combat this (and fail) you tighten your waist harness as tight as possible. Achieving nothing other than a shortness of breath and a figure like a hand clutching a sausage.
I abandoned my “cool looking” waist harness early on as I felt it was impeading my progress and despite my hopes didn’t make feel or look cool at all.
I have used a pair of “frankenshorts” for the best part of the past 4 years. They are somewhat modified; as it is near impossible to find larger sized kit for girls in kite surfing (I’m an athletic build 5’8) my default is to use the same gear as men and that’s all I can get that fits.
To make them more feminine I turned them into hot pants. The spreader bar and pad replaced with my favourite ION. A few clips and strips here and there, over the years the whole thing moulded to my body like a comfy old leather jacket, but… All good things come to an end. Like my Ruggy of old, I was starting to feel that I was growing out of my shorts. I was concluding I should try again with the waist harness. I can frigging ride strapless for Christ sake, I can conquer a pissing waist harness.
My strapless riding was really starting to come together, I had a great board, gybes nailed and loving wave riding. The niggles started when I was researching my new quiver, after flying North Rebels for a number of years I was up for a change. Rarely using my twintip any more I had to admit to myself that I’d officially crossed over, I should buy the kites to suit.
That’s when I started researching the right harness for the job too. The hubster and I had been discussing new harnesses for a while, actually his was in poorer shape that mine in that he’d actually managed to turn his into a tutu, cutting out the frayed and messed up crotch of his shorts in favour of a more refined but feminine look. Mods gone mad and I was embarrassed for him… He on the other had is rarely fased by such minor details as how something looks over function. And he’s a better person for that!
We had a bodged attempt at buying a couple of Dakine harnesses off the power kite shop. Drop shipping failure meant we ever left hanging by them for some 5 months of empty promises! Meanwhile we kept looking.
You could say perhaps it was meant to be, let down in that way meant we were in a position to consider this new kid on the block… The Ride Engine! Ok so my expectations were sky high after all that I’d read but I was also was filled with trepidation, the risk of such heavy investment on my nemesis! If there was going to be a harness worth digging out for, perhaps this was the one?
As I was packing my bags to Fuerte I was looking at my old comfy reliable shorts vs. my spangly new and beautifully crafted Ride Engine, I had to consider my baggage allowance and hubster was packing for a windy apocalypse. Throwing all caution literally to the wind I leave my old shorts behind in a tired decrepit bundle on the garage floor. Risky? Yes.
Creature of habit? Me, yes.
I knew the chances of taking my new harness all the way to the windy island and leaving it shoreside in favour of old faithful? High. Knowing this, the only way for me to give this harness a fair crack of the whip was to go all in. Fully commit. Sink or swim!
That was a while ago now, I’m fully dialed into my Ride Engine and I love it. Sure waist harnesses can bruise your ribs, ride up and give you titty chin, make you look a bit like a squashed sausage, but they also give you a massive amount for freedom from the waist down you just don’t get that wearing a waist.
So what’s the real difference?
I feel overpowered sooner wearing a waist harness over a seat.
When over powered or want to hack about, getting air, I’d rather be wearing a seat harness. You can get more weight back and drive the power through the leg and heel better. But that’s twintip talk, with strapless I’m all about taking as little kite as possible, it’s more about being light on your feet, that is not as easy when you’re wearing as waist harness.
Waist harnesses are uncomfortable, fact. Seat harnesses cause less lower back pain and easier on your legs.
If you insist on the waist but struggling with it riding up, wear your velcro strap looser so when it does ride up, which it will no matter how tight you have it, you can just rest your kite tip down and shimmy it back into position easier.
If I was just starting out with kiting again I’d go straight to seat and not worry about a waist harness until I was at an intermediate level. Just don’t worry about it, your harness should be the last thing you are thinking about, but the most important to get right.
Lets not even talk about going poo stance, what ever harness there is never ever a good time or reason for it for which I may one day go into more detail on it. All I will say on it is suck it up, lock out your front leg and drive your leeward hip towards your windward hand and just stop being a pussy.
Don’t think for a second I had it easy on my “do or die” trip with the Ride Engine, there was a day when I went trawling the island for a suitable replacement for my shorts after a fairly traumatic first session of just getting spanked over and over again. Thankfully I failed and was kindly talked back into my ability to handle “this shit”. Don’t get me wrong, old faithful is still hung up in the garage. Just like Ruggie is in the bottom draw…