Ozone’s modular harness comes in two modes – slick and complete. Lawrie Noctor tries it out.
Released earlier last year the Ozone Switch is billed as a “versatile harness designed for speed flying, speedriding, and hike-and-fly”. Ozone add that it’s “durable and full featured” and for pilots “who want options”. I was excited when I first saw it and have been flying one now for over six months.
Materials and design
The basic harness is available in two sizes: S/M (2kg, 150-165cm) and M/L (2.2kg, 165-190cm). This is what Ozone call the “slick” mode and, like a conventional speed-flying / hike-and-fly harness, does not have back protection or a built-in reserve compartment. To add those, you simply zip on the dedicated rescue/protection module (725g) – this is the “complete” mode.
The harness is reversible in both modes. In complete mode with a standard reserve I could fit in a 17m2 mini wing quite easily, and a well-packed Geo 5 (MS) with a bit of attention. Using a compression glider bag and lightweight reserve meant I could also pack in some clothes and a helmet.
I appreciated that the harness is supplied with a sleeved reserve bridle and maillons, which is both helpful and saves €70. The harness also has pulleys for a speed system (a speed bar is included), Velcro on the left shoulder for a small GPS/vario and a good size pocket on the left.
I was also glad to see that when in complete mode, you don’t get a saggy bottom. Anyone who has flown an older-style lightweight reversible speed-flying style harnesses will know what I mean by this. This is not just cosmetic though: it makes groundhandling more pleasant when you have a few bits to chuck in the backpack.
Ozone have changed the leg- and chest-strap buckles and now use the over-centering type with a small red popper that pushes out to lock the buckle. Although these are quick and easy, I personally prefer the buckles used on the Oxygen 1 (Austrialpin quick-release).
Last but not least, the Switch is certified EN 1651:2017 and LTF with a maximum load of 120kg. In addition, the inflatable underseat protection is certified to CE standard by CRITT (France).
When switching from slick to complete mode it took a couple of goes before I could do it without referencing the manual as there are a few zips which need close attention, along with reserve bridle routing etc.
There are some harnesses where the advertised add-on module looks like an afterthought. I’m pleased to say the Switch does indeed look very slick, and doesn’t just look like a harness with strapped-on protection. It’s seamless and clean.
The airbag is easily inflated with the supplied “refill” bag (wave it through the air, then roll and squeeze). The tube then has a simple closing mechanism to stop air escaping. I had no issues with it deflating and it held really good shape.
With regards to the reserve container, I was able to easily fit an Ozone Angel 110 rescue in the pocket. The closing mechanism is also easy to understand. Ozone provide a foam cushion to fill the reserve gap and give additional protection when not flying with a reserve.
On the ground
Getting in and out is easy, with two leg/chest straps and one shoulder strap. For groundhandling in stronger winds guys will need a slight wiggle, but once done will find the Switch is comfortable and easily manoeuvrable. The hangpoint height and leg-strap position means all body positions are well accommodated.
When forward launching, being more upright I found I had lots of space to really drive the body forward without any annoying pressure on the chest. Similarly, when sat back, the hangpoint height put the hand position in a relaxed place.
For hike-and-fly there are lots of adjustment straps on the backpack, which also double up to hold walking poles and skis. In terms of padding in the backpack, the harness has two main foam strips running down the length of the backpack as well as foam in the shoulder loops and waist band: adequate for two-hour hikes.
In the air
It took a few flights to get the straps dialled-in but when done it was comfortable. I even tested it on a couple of hour-long XC flights and, although I did miss having a seatboard, and it’s not what it was designed for, I was impressed with its comfort. Weightshift was good in both slick and complete modes; in complete mode, with the airbag fully inflated and reserve in place, it gave the harness a little more lower rigidity, which is good for longer flights on big wings.
I also tested it as a passenger harness on a tandem XC and after two hours of flying my passenger did not have any sore spots or discomfort. An added benefit is it’s reversible, so passengers can carry their own equipment when hiking.
I found myself using the back protection a lot as the additional weight was minimal and it made sense to have it.
In the UK the basic Switch retails for around £849 (€990/$1,100). To get the back protection and reserve add-on it’s an extra £250 (including reserve container and reserve bridle), so £1,099 in total. Expensive, but it really is two harnesses in one. It’s made of durable fabrics too, so it won’t disintegrate the second you slide it along any grass.
This is a transformer of harnesses. It can be used in comfort for a lot of different uses and has some really smart features, which do indeed make it very versatile. It’s a huge improvement over the Attack and Oxygen 1 and if you, like me, fly a host of different wings and don’t have the budget for more than one harness, then this is a good option
Ozone say: “The Switch is a versatile harness designed for speed flying, speedriding, and hike-and-fly. It’s durable and full-featured, for pilots who want options.”
Pilot level: Speedflyers and hike-and-fly pilots
Sizes: S/M, M/L
Pilot height (cm): 150-165, 165-190
Weight (kg): 2, 2.2 (rescue/protection module 725g)
Certification: EN and LTF
Published in issue 232 (August 2022)