I was hating my harness! The first thing to bring me off the water was sore hips. But as flimsy as my old harness was, I had rigged a sliding hook to it that worked well and I didn’t want to give that up. I was looking for three things in a new harness; comfort, durability, and a nice sliding connection system for wave riding with more than a few inches of travel. After a year with the Ride Engine Hex I can say it’s delivered on all counts.
Here are the highlights:
Comfort: Ride Engine was the first to develop the hard-shell type harness. Now other major brands are following suit and I’m betting this construction will soon be the standard. From the first use, I could feel the difference in the load distribution. The wrap around design eliminates any pressure points and there’s no pinching on my hips. Some have touted this hard-shell construction as being a cure for “riding up”. I have not found this to be the case and still like to cinch it down as tight as I can before launching. There have been complaints about the harness getting loose while riding due to webbing slippage. Ride Engine recommends to run the webbing back through the top slot of the buckle and I’ve found this to be completely effective.
Durability: I kite 1 to 4 days a week on average year round. After 1 year there are no noticeable signs of wear or fatigue. The hard shell remains as stiff as the day I bought it and still distributes the load evenly. Even cosmetically, the harness still looks new. So far so good on durability.
Spreader Bar Options: The system is proprietary which means your old hooks won’t work, but the good news is that Ride Engine offers a number of fixed and sliding connection bar options. In addition, Dynabar which many considered the gold standard of sliding connection systems, now has an adapter kit for the Ride Engine. I went with the Dynabar option because it offered a little more travel than the stock Ride Engine bars at the time.
Check out Dynabar Spreader Bars HERE.
Sizing: As far as sizing, I had read tips that said to buy a size up from what you normally wear, and others said to size down. I wasn’t in a position to try one on before I ordered so I followed the directions on the website and measured my waist with a tape. This lead me to order an XL which ended up being too big. My pant size is around 35” and a large ended up being about right. If anything, I could go down to a medium.
Summary: If I had to find something negative to say about the Hex, it might be that it seems a bit heavier than other harnesses I’ve tested. If you are someone who strives for the lightest possible gear, take a look at the carbon models and pair with the carbon bar option. Ride Engine also offers custom heat molded models. My off-the-shelf Hex is so comfortable, I can only imagine what the custom molded fit feels like. With pricing starting at $249 (harness only, no bar) these Ride Engine harnesses cost more than you’re probably used to but for the comfort and expected durability I consider it money well spent. For 2017, Ride Engine has expanded their sizes to include XS and XXL. There’s a bit more padding in front and they claim to have improved their injection molding process for added strength.