Bastienne Wentzel took Skywalk’s new reversible harness for a spin during a week of XC flying in Bassano.
In search of a light but sturdy reversible seat-plate harness, Skywalk told me, “We have something better,” and showed me the brand new Cruise. The Cruise is a “compact comfort harness” say Skywalk, aimed at beginners and sports pilots preferring a seat harness instead of a pod. While not reversible, it is compact and light enough to tick the boxes. The S size is 3.5kg while the look and feel is strong and high quality.
The main feature of the Cruise is the Permair 2.0 airbag protector. It needs to be inflated before flight, which sounds like a hassle but in fact takes less than a minute. The harness packs very compactly indeed and fits easily in a small to medium backpack with a standard glider, leaving space for helmet, jacket and gadgets. A compression storage bag is included.
While not as light as lightweight reversibles, the quality of materials used for the Cruise feels more like those used on standard harnesses, which can easily weigh up to a kilo more. There is no thin paraglider cloth anywhere and the bottom of the harness is made of stronger fabric. The seat plate and speed bar are both carbon fibre. The connectors are Skywalk aluminum buckles and the Edelrid twistlock karabiners open slightly sideways for easy riser connection.
The Cruise has a number of features that give it that little extra. The back pocket is fairly large and has space for a drinks bladder. I appreciate the two easily reachable side pockets. A fancy detail are the magnets on the leg straps that connect to magnets on the side straps of the harness, similar to brake handle magnets. When you unbuckle, the leg straps almost automatically snap into place. Next time you strap in, there is no need to search in dubious places for your leg straps, they are just always there.
Remarkable are the Safety-Lock sliders, which are plastic covers that slide over the chest strap buckles when they are connected to the T-lock strap. This prevents them from opening, explained Skywalk’s Gerhard Holzner. “There was an accident with a harness from another brand where the buckles opened when the pilot was in the upright position. We decided to prevent this for all Skywalk harnesses.” In everyday use, I found that I didn’t always remember to close them. There are no sliders on the leg straps, explained Gerhard, because: “On the leg straps you still have the T-lock system so you can’t fall out.”
Skywalk recommend to use the supplied deployment bag for installing the reserve. “It is especially developed for this harness to make sure the combination opens perfectly.”
Getting ready to fly
There are three ways of inflating the protector before flight: with the electric pump (included), with an inflation bag (not included) or blowing through the supplied mouthpiece. You’ll attract some attention on launch with the buzzing electric pump, but it functions just fine.
Gerhard Holzner advised that the pump provides exactly enough pressure for the airbag but this is not very critical: “It’s a very tolerant system, the protection will be approximately the same whether you have 0.08 or 0.02 bar inside.” The pressure does affect your seating position, so try this out before you fly, while you are adjusting your seating position.
Skywalk say a fully charged pump can inflate the protector about 20 times and it is charged by USB-C. It can even serve as a powerbank, so you can charge your phone when you land. Blowing by mouth or with a bag is just as easy and I found this a bit faster. The mouthpiece removes any moisture and should be kept clean.
Additionally there is a SAS-TEC back plate. This provides extra impact-protection to the spine against hard objects and is derived from motorcycle protective gear. It can be easily taken out of its pocket. It is not part of the LTF certification so your harness will still be safe without the plate.
The verdict in flight
The Cruise is light and easy to groundhandle. In flight it feels very uncomplicated. It was very comfortable during multiple longer flights. I had no pressure points anywhere and it supported my back just fine.
It might be on the dynamic side for those coming from a stable school harness, but I got used to that quickly and appreciate the amount of weightshift authority it gives. The side straps looped through the karabiners on each side work like a damping system and make weightshifting more progressive and inuitive, according to Gerhard.
These straps can be released from the karabiners, but feeling the initial dynamics of the harness I would advise being a little careful with this. Always release both sides, never just one. You can of course adjust the chest-strap length as usual to dampen the dynamics.
The Cruise should be on anyone’s shortlist when looking for an all-round light, durable and compact seat harness for local leisure flights as well as longer XC or even hike-and-fly adventures.
Skywalk say: “A compact comfort harness the Cruise is aimed at safety and comfort-conscious pilots, beginners, flight students, but also sporty pilots who prefer a seat harness.”
Pilot level: From training hill to XC
Sizes: S, M, L
Pilot height (cm): 155-172, 167-183, 178-198
Weight (kg): 3.5, 3.65, 3.8
Certification: EN and LTF
Published in issue 231 (July 2022)