Charlie King takes this hike and fly harness for a walk up her local mountain
Apco’s Hike reversible rucksack / harness has recently been EN certified to 120kg when used with their optional airbag. It’s suitable for pilots from 160-190cm and designed for hike-and-fly, but it’s not a super-skimpy ultralight. Instead it’s robustly-built, big enough to take a standard paraglider (the rucksack volume is 55 litres) and designed to be used with an airbag and side-mounted reserve so you have all the safety features to do much more than an early – morning hike-and-fly.
We received our test sample already set up with the airbag and a side-mounted Mayday Super Light (SLT) reserve, and Apco’s lightweight two-step speedbar with ball-bearing pulleys. With all of this and the karabiners I weighed the harness at 3.32kg. If you want to lighten the load and strip it back to a simple hike-and-fly harness then it’s very easy to remove all the extras to be left with the basic rucksack / harness at around 1.3kg.
Apco have an excellent video manual on their website which explains very clearly how to set everything up. To fit the airbag, there are basically four connectors on the back, two straps with plastic clips that do up around the leg loops, and a Velcro strip that wraps around the strap between the leg pads. Yellow markings on the harness ensure you connect the reserve bridle to the right places.
Apco are known for their durability and the Hike is strongly made from robust-looking materials. The bag is well shaped, with long side zippers so it’s easy to load and has side compression-straps on reinforced tabs that compact the load against your back for easier carrying.
The rucksack has an ‘Air Comfort’ ventilated back system, and the shoulder straps are nicely padded and shaped. Large cut-outs on the hip straps shave weight while leaving padding where it’s needed.
The adjustment toggles and compression straps have easy-grab loops on the ends – a nice touch, as is the inbuilt whistle on the chest strap. Side pockets are ideal for stowing a water bottle where you can reach it on the walk in. I had no complaints at all with the comfort of the bag for walking.
In the air
On launch it simply reverses to become a step-through harness with a roomy back compartment. You can set the leg-strap distance – Apco recommend not having them too close together for launch or you won’t be able to run! The chest strap adjusts easily, in flight if you like, but you need to hang the harness before you fly to adjust the back angle, as it adjusts by choosing which loop to clip into the main karabiners.
Its simplicity of use – one chest strap to do up and the reserve etc already in place – is a safety feature in itself. Although I noticed a slight wedgie effect on the launch run, once in the air and settled it’s a very comfortable and supportive harness that you can happily fly in for extended periods of time.
All in all the Hike is a versatile piece of kit: robust and roomy, with the peace of mind of an airbag and reserve; a perfect piece for overseas mountain adventures.
Originally released in Cross Country Issue 204 (Oct 2019)