French manufacturer Neo make equipment for paragliding and speedriding, and the Shorty was designed for both. It’s a rucksack and harness, but not a reversible – the harness is stowed in a zipped panel, and the back and straps are the same in rucksack and harness configurations.
Because of this, when I first saw the Shorty at the 2018 Coupe Icare it reminded me of Sky’s Crux, but in fact they are very different things. The Crux is made of lightweight ripstop to minimise weight, and its big advantage is that you can get the harness out without unpacking your bag; the Shorty is heavy-duty Cordura and feels tougher, from the robust grab-handle on top to the reinforced patches on the accessory loops on the front, which are strong enough to hold skis. It’s heavier (I weighed our size L test sample at 1.88kg) but it feels like it would withstand being strapped to a yak or thrown around in a truck.
It’s very well thought-out and nicely finished, with a lot of the touches designed for speedriding. A plastic knob on the left shoulder strap allows you to clip a wing in a Neo Speed Pack to it, and it has an inner pocket designed to hold a shovel and probe, though it could hold other things just as well. There is a zippered goggle pocket and all the zip pulls have big plastic grabbers so you can operate them with gloves on. The zips have ‘garages’ to stop them slipping undone.
The rucksack comes in sizes S to L and holds 65l, so it’s big enough for wing plus kit, and its tall, slim shape doesn’t restrict movement if you want to climb with it. It’s comfortable (padded hip belt, chest strap on a vertical slider) and has an accessible stretchy side pocket that you can put a drink bottle etc in. It’s designed to be worn over ski gear but tightens down enough to hike in a T-shirt.
The harness folds away inside the pack, and there is a double-zip system to extract it: a blue outer zip and a red inner. You undo each in turn, pass the harness through and do up the outer zip again, but it does mean removing all your kit from the main compartment of the bag. A large zippered pocket on the front runs the length of the bag and can stow quite a bit of kit, which you don’t need to unpack on launch.
The harness is easy to put on and there’s not much to remember, which is good for potential launches at altitude. Two of the three loops can remain attached to the karabiners all the time, so there’s just one leg loop strap each side to clip in – red one side, blue the other. The harness is deep and comfortable, with an adjustable strap between the split legs and you can also adjust the recline angle. It comes with Koroyd back protection, and Neo sell an airbag and front-mount reserve container as accessories.
In conclusion the Shorty is spacious and comfortable and its protection options and ruggedness would make it an excellent option for long, adventurous approaches to high mountains, as well as speedriding and everyday hike-and-fly.
Originally reviewed in Cross Country Magazine issue 200 (June 2019)
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