THIS IS A superlight adventurer’s pod harness, which comes in a huge range of configurable options. Having ordered one, I know how tricky it is making the decisions on what set-up to go for, so the main purpose of this review is to give you a bit more information on the different options.
Is it right for you?
Let’s roll back 18 months, when the Forza was released – at the time we loved its comfort but weren’t keen on its 5.6kg weight and cumbersome, neoprene pod. Late in 2016 a 720 pod option became available, reducing the harness’s overall weight to 4.5kg (or 4.2kg with the 570 pod), and this made it a much, much more attractive package.
Given the Ozium 2 is the brainchild of the same designer as the Forza, it’s no wonder it resembles something of a cross between the original Ozium and its comfier sibling. The geometry is similar to the Forza, though you immediately notice a lack of foam support on your back, and of course there are fewer pockets – and no Anti-G pocket. Webbing is stripped down to 15 and 25 mm widths, but in many other aspects – from the design of the rear and underseat pockets to the clipping in routine – it is very similar to the Forza (including the fiddliness of threading a loop through a tiny hole when clipping in).
The Forza has many, many fans and a reputation as one of the most comfortable harnesses ever – and I’d certainly testify to that after using it for several six-hour flights. The fact the Ozium 2’s geometry is so similar is reassuring, and in the air it feels like a stripped down version, offering perhaps 80-90% of its bigger brother’s comfort. It’s a tad more roll-stable than the Lightness 2, which is perhaps the benchmark design in the sub-3kg class. Tightening the leg straps by 2-4 cm from fully released increases roll stability nicely. It’s also worth playing around with tightening or loosening the lumbar support lines to get absolutely equal support through your back. You can feel a little pressure as you push on the bar, but the speed system feels very light, pointing to excellent efficiency, and the pod nods slightly down as you push on bar.
Firstly, I’d steer clear of the lycra pod unless absolute minimum pack volume is essential because even flying in 15C temperature, the lycra was noticeably cooler. It’s not like you can feel any wind blowing through, but much like a thin summer wetsuit, the insulation just isn’t there. Meanwhile, the 720 pod is absolutely exceptional, providing 100% wind proofing and amazing warmth over my last year’s flying, so suitable for flying worldwide. It’s also only 170g heavier than the lycra – peanuts. The 570 may be a good option, but we have heard it doesn’t quite offer the same wind-proofing as the 720 which is so essential at high altitudes for warmth.
Seatboard and footplate
A seatboard is another optional extra – but truly, this is a hammock style harness with a nice locked-in feel from tip to toe, and it feels unnecessary. Also, it’s actually sold as a ‘back plate’ and sits quite far back in the harness, and can cause the material behind to bunch up a little. At 200g, I’d rather have a few Snickers bars with me instead.
There’s a choice of the standard polycarbonate plate or superlight carbon footplate, which is essentially a ring with a hole in the middle. I’d go for the polycarbonate every time – it’s got a good, solid feel. Meanwhile the carbon ring footplate keeps the shape of the pod but with nothing in the middle, your feet get noticeably colder from the airflow pushing through the fabric, and so unless you have really rigid soles on your shoes or boots, you’re going to miss a bit of that nice rigid feel.
Storage and comfort
The Ozium 2 has greater storage capacity than its predecessor, looks great, and flies really nicely. It combines high levels of comfort with the kind of compactness that’ll see it easily squeeze into a 40 or 50-litre bag. But when you get down to sub-3kg harnesses, while it can be so tempting to shave every last gram, just bear in mind that the compromises start stacking up. The absolute lightest weight, lycra-pod option with carbon footplate weighs in at 2.43kg. I’d be tempted to go for this option if I was solely focussing on hike-and-fly or proper out-there adventures, but for a more all-round travelling, XC harness, stick another 300 grams into the mix and it’ll make such an improvement to the harness’s warmth, durability and feel.
Ozone say: “An incredibly lightweight XC pod harness designed for adventure flying”
Pod options: Lycra, 570, 720 – light, heavier, heaviest
What is it for? XC, travel
Size: S, M, L
Weight: 2.5kg (M, 570 pod)
Rescue: one, rear
Back protection: light foam
Price: circa €1,350
Hugh Miller flew the Ozium for three hours in the UK
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