The updated version of this hike-and-fly harness is a big improvement – they’ve nailed it, says Charlie King
The Altirando Lite 2 is the updated version of Supair’s lightweight reversible harness and rucksack. It’s a versatile all-mod-cons harness with a self-inflating airbag protector and a built-in reserve, for hike-and-fly and everyday flying.
I flew the original back in 2020, and commented in my review that the rucksack was a bit on the small side – it could fit a full kit, but you had to pack neatly and it was a bit of a squeeze. The rucksack on this new 2023 version is now taller and has a roll-top closure, which means it is expandable.
There was plenty of room for my light XS glider, helmet, instruments, clothes and camera, and still some room left in the top for extras. For hike-and-fly, with no camera or instruments and a slightly smaller glider, I rolled it down a bit more. Compression straps cinch in any additional slack and angled straps hold the rolled-in top in place.
The rucksack is made from lightweight ripstop materials in two greens, with a slightly thicker fabric on the base. Two lightly padded strips on the rucksack back create a small airflow gap, and a more padded but still lightweight loop holds the waist belt. The latter Velcros in place and can be removed altogether. There are no rods structuring the back, so packing neatly is a must, but also a given – you’ll see why when we look at the conversion from harness to bag.
The rucksack has a zipped pocket on the waist belt, and large, slightly stretchy pockets on either side, one zipped, one open. The latter can be used for carrying a water bottle, which can be reached on the go although it’s not the easiest, as it’s not super-stretchy and lacks a lower access hole. It’s not stretchy enough to stuff a down jacket into either, but with the spacious rucksack, I can’t see that you’d need to. You could carry hiking poles, snacks, gloves, beanie etc in it.
Whichever way you prefer to carry water on a hike, it has been catered for: there is a tube exit hole on both rucksack and harness for a drinks bladder, and also two stretchy shoulder-strap mounted pockets on the rucksack that work with 500ml soft flasks or plastic Coke-style bottles. Elastic tether loops mean you could also use one for a Spot (satellite tracker) or similar.
The chest strap can be raised or lowered, and both waist and chest straps have light and functional plastic clips. The shoulder straps are now quite wide, and are stiffened and padded. I found the rucksack very comfortable to hike with. If you need something different, the bag can be removed entirely and you can use another.
This is really neat, in both senses of the word. The harness zips away into its own inner compartment, so you always end up with a package that is the same neat shape and size. It’s easy and needs no squashing. If you use a concertina bag, you end up with a second little neat rectangular pack, and you can place them one on top of the other and zip the rucksack closed around them.
It’s effortless packing, and you can’t do it badly. The inner bag also protects the harness, and there is no longer the issue of the intakes for the airbag being exposed when in rucksack mode.
The harness has both a polypropylene seat plate and split-leg pads, a combination that gives you freedom of movement, weightshift authority and stops you sliding around in the seat in your slippery sportswear. The buckles are now automatic Cobras where the original had thread-throughs, and a chest strap keeps the shoulder straps in place.
You can adjust the harness back angle to make it more laid-back or more upright. The seat tips, making it easy to assume a seated position after launch, and get your legs down for landing. It also feels light and unrestrictive to walk around on launch in.
I found the harness very comfortable in the air, no hotspots or uncomfortable bits. Your back is against a shaped foam support, and you could happily fly for hours in it. It is weightshift-friendly, more so than its predecessor I would say, and the airbag seems to inflate pretty much immediately. Nitinol wires pre-shape it before launch, and the mesh-covered air intake strip is at the front below the seat, and no longer exposed when in rucksack mode.
The harness is delivered with a dedicated reserve pod, and the reserve is easy to install, although I found the tips of the yellow pipes that close the reserve container would occasionally sneak out of their garages, but this does not affect the security of the handle, which is held in place by the other channels it passes through. The reserve handle is on the right-hand side and easy to reach in flight. On the left is a large, zipped pocket, which easily accommodates a 360 camera on a stick.
If your instrument is not riser-mounted, Supair sell a lightweight cockpit which attaches via loops with clips around the harness straps or your risers. There are no dedicated loops to clip a cockpit into. Another optional accessory for this harness is Supair’s footrest, and there are buckles for this.
I really like the Altirando Lite 2, in both modes. It is light, versatile, comfortable and functional, and it looks good too. It seems to have everything it needs, with no unnecessary extras. If there is ever going to be an Altirando Lite 3, Supair might have a hard job deciding what to change, as I think they have nailed it with version two.
Supair say: “Light, practical and easy to use harness for hike-and-fly, travel and everyday use”
Pilot level: All levels
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Height (cm): 155-175, 170-185, 180-195, 190-205
Weight with bag, karabiners, reserve risers (kg): 2.75, 3.0, 3.1, 2.41
Certification: EN / LTF / CE
Charlie King is 170cm tall and flew the M size
Published in Cross Country 240 (June 2023)