Stand out from the crowd with this well-balanced pod harness from Little Cloud. By Marcus King.
I reviewed the first version of the Grasshopper in 2015, when I described it as “slightly wacky looking with head-turning colours” but concluded it was “hard not to like.” Roll forward seven years and designer Tom Bordeau asked if we would like to try the second generation.
The Grasshopper Mk2 has been developed in conjunction with the team at AirDesign France. Tom at Little Cloud gets chief designer credit for the core of the harness – the load-bearing structure and protection – while AirDesign used the base to develop their own Sock harness with its own features.
For those who flew the original, the Grasshopper Mk2 still feels very much like an evolution of the original Grasshopper.
My first impression was just how compact the whole set-up is when packed. The new Grasshopper Mk2 has inflatable protection and the storage sack doubles as an inflator. You can either use the bag and roll it up to push the air into the protector, or blow.
Removing the harness I was again hit by the amount of green, it really is a grasshopper. This time, however, it is two-tone green thanks to the material mix. The front looks to be the same neoprene-type material as the original, which I found very effective at keeping out the wind.
In a major change from the original the back now has an inflatable fairing for improved aerodynamics. This is made from ripstop nylon, which feels reasonably tough, and silicone coating. Inlets on either side fill the fairing efficiently.
The harness is hammock style with two leg-loops sewn in. There are removable stiffening bars running up each side of the seat, which the load straps go round; this gives some stiffness to the harness.
The inflatable protection is in a pocket under the seat and goes up to the small of your back. Above this there isn’t much protection, just some high-density foam used more to shape and support the back rest. If you have lots of soft material in the back pocket this will add protection. The protection is rated at 35G.
There is plenty of adjustment to the sitting position with shoulder-, back- and seat-angle all adjustable. Adjustments are best made on the ground before flying. The distance between hangpoints though is not adjustable.
The footplate is supported by four separate cords, adjusted in length with larksfoot knots. This makes for a stable set-up – especially welcome if you have long legs.
Unusually there is no inflatable nose cone. Tom said nose cones in generally are “just a visual thing, the aerodynamic effect is close to zero.” He added: “On rocky take-offs the nose is always catching first, so we decided to go flat as it is less likely to get damaged.”
The reserve is front-mounted with bridles connecting to the main karabiners. This has the advantage of being easy to see and grab, plus you can throw in either direction. Tom also told me that being clipped into the main karabiners means there is less of a planing effect between the wing and reserve.
The bridles are integrated into the main closing loops to make closing the harness simple. Both the main loops clip directly into the karabiners. I found it easier to keep one clipped in and step into the leg loop on that side. Doing that means you then just have to clip the other side plus the two plastic pod closing clips. Then there is a chest strap to keep the shoulder straps in place. The easy-to-grab handle is central with plastic wires going through loops all round. These are easy to check and give a wide opening.
One noticeable thing is there is no attachment to the bottom of the rescue pocket, so if you pull up on the handle it lifts up. This means you have to pull forward, but pull-force seems low. It is the same system as used on the original harness.
There is a large 40l pocket inside the rear fairing. This has a dedicated drinks bladder pocket as well as a load-securing cord. Under the seat is another large pocket accessed via a zip. Plenty of room for vol-biv adventures. There is a hole for a ballast tube to exit, plus a hole with a rubber grommet on the floor of the pod for the tube or an XCPee tube.
On either side of the pod there are large pockets with magnetic closures and tie-offs. For instruments there is a Velcro area on top of the reserve pouch with tie-off loops. It’s not huge but there is plenty of room for a large tablet or a small instrument and phone.
Getting into the harness in the air it is easy to slip into the pod. There is no magnetic closure but with the right tension it stays shut and keeps out the air well. I was surprised at just how stable it felt. Coming from the Delight 4 Sport I felt roll control was somewhere between that and the Woody Valley GTO Light 2 I normally fly.
It is very much a hammock feel but the leg loops help keep your weight spread for a more precise nature to turns. The stiffness front to back with the rods on the side also helps. The three-step speed system is easy to use as it is held in place with elastic cords and sits off the bottom of the pod.
In terms of comfort, with the adjustment sorted the back support is great with no annoying creases. I found the shoulders more supportive than I had expected with some nice shaping. I could feel some minor pressure on my hips where the speed system pulleys are. To be fair, with some adjustment this was less noticeable especially after settling in the harness and it is probably specific to my body shape. Overall though I found the harness very comfortable for the two-hour flights I had with it.
The Grasshopper Mk2 feels like a lightweight pod you could use for everyday flying. The material choices make it feel tougher than some of the others in this sector. Its small packed size makes it a good choice if you routinely walk to launch, allowing for a more compact pack without compromising on comfort. Then there is plenty of storage if you want to go off on a vol-biv.
Front-mounted reserves aren’t everyone’s choice but they have definite plus points. If you are happy to have one then check out the Grasshopper Mk2 – especially if you want to break out from the black pod brigade.
What Little Cloud say: “An extraordinary product with a strong character”
Style: Semi-light pod for XC and vol-biv
Weight (kg): 2.4, 2.6, 2.8
Certification: EN 1651/EN 12491
Max pilot weight: 100kg
Protection: Inflatable, 35G rating
Published in Cross Country 238 (April 2023)