Marcus King goes hike-and-fly with this well-built reversible harness
As I was preparing to leave the Coupe Icare in September last year Niviuk’s UK importer Barney Woodhead thrust a daysack in my hand and said, “Give that a try, see what you think.” The bag in question was the latest incarnation of Niviuk’s Roamer reversible harness designed for mountain flying and speedriding.
Some reversible harnesses can look a bit cheap when in rucksack mode. Not the Roamer 2 – this looks like a very modern, well thought-through mountain rucksack made from tough, technical material. The back of the rucksack and underside of the shoulder straps and waist-belt feature padding and a breathable mesh material for extra comfort when walking up the hill.
As well as the main compartment (between 37 and 50 litres depending on the size) there are plenty of other smaller pockets to store your valuables. At the top is a zipped pocket with a mesh section and a smaller zip pocket inside. You’ll find another small zipped pocket on the waist strap, although sadly it was too tight for my mobile.
There’s a removable helmet net that can be clipped on if you have lots of kit inside. On the front is a bungee system as well ice axe/walking pole loops. On the side you’ll find a mesh pocket that can easily take a water bottle, plus there are straps for carrying skis either side. The grab handles look like they are up to the job and everything is well finished.
The L size that I tested has a capacity of 47 litres, which was easily enough to fit a 20m2 single-skin wing, front reserve, helmet and light jacket inside for my morning walk up the hill. With this kit onboard the rucksack stayed nicely compact and didn’t flop about. The harness system felt nicely supportive, keeping the load exactly where it was meant to be – think good technical day sack.
This is a classic reversible harness, meaning that you have to empty the main compartment to turn the bag inside out to reveal the harness. The process is quick, helped by the full-length side zips. Once turned around there are only two main clips to secure it: classic square feed-through metal buckles. The straps are colour-coded, which is always useful.
In harness mode the bag looks sleek and smooth but still with a good amount of storage inside. On the outside at the back there is an ice-axe loop so you can stow your axe for the descent out of the way at the back. My Black Diamond walking poles easily fitted inside the main compartment.
In the air it is obvious the harness has been well thought through. There is enough stiffness in the panels to make it nicely supportive without being too heavy or cutting into you. I especially found the support round the lower- to mid-back good; sometimes light harnesses can feel baggy here.
You can adjust the chest strap and leg distance as well as the angle. An optional airbag can be added underneath to increase protection, making it suitable for more everyday use.
To sum up then, the Roamer 2 is a well-built, well thought-through reversible harness that is comfortable in both modes. Adding the airbag and a front-mounted reserve will make it a great lightweight choice for travelling as well as its intended uses of mountain flying and speed-riding.
Published in Cross Country Issue 207 (Feb/Mar 2020)