Charlie King finds out whether this reversible harness is suitable for everyday use
The Altirando Lite is a reversible lightweight harness, part of Supair’s Backcountry series of five harnesses, which range from the super-skinny Everest 3 (320g) to the pod-and-Bumpair Strike, made for the X-Alps. The Altirando Lite is a legs-out harness with airbag and integrated reserve container, so it can be used for everyday flying as well as hike-and-fly. In four sizes, I tested the S.
It’s a good-looking piece of kit, black and dark green with honeycomb ripstop fabrics, trimmed with white zips and logos. The rucksack is fairly small – I had to pack quite neatly but I could fit all the essentials in. For hike-and-fly with a mountain wing there will be lots of room. A zippered gusset on the front of the rucksack expands the volume slightly.
The stiffened rucksack back gives good rigidity and supports the bag well. Padding on the straps is light but adequate and comfortable. Shoulder straps are quite narrow but widen where they come into contact with your body, with adjusters to pull the load in, and adjustability on the waist belt. The back lacks any ventilation so it’s a bit of a sweatier carry than some, but the material has a pleasant feel, not too plasticky.
There are plenty of ways to organise your kit in the rucksack. One of the waist straps has a zipped pocket with a key lanyard inside, and there’s another zipped pocket on top. The big stretchy side pocket is perfect for a water bottle and there is a drinks tube routing for a water pouch.
The overall finish is really nice. Durable material, neat stitching, with reinforcements like stretchy tabs that support the compression straps, and decent plastic clips.
One of the vulnerabilities with a reversible airbag harness is that the airbag is exposed when it’s in rucksack mode. On the Altirando Lite the mesh inlet is right on the bottom of the rucksack, so you need to treat it with care and not drag it around. I’d definitely use an outer rucksack as protection for plane travel.
Chunky side zips run the full length of the rucksack so it’s easy to flip into harness mode. The harness has a seat plate and triangular leg pads so no webbing is in direct contact with your legs. Buckles are lightweight and foolproof thread-through types.
Like the rucksack, the harness finish is also really nice and neat. The reserve is on the right, and uses plastic tubes in place of metal pins. The reserve handle flap closes with a magnet and did pop apart once or twice – mildly irritating, not a safety issue – just make sure it’s closed when you pre-flight check.
Nitinol rods give structure to the airbag and allow it to partially pre-inflate before launch, before inflating fully in flight. There is a spot of Velcro on one shoulder strap for a small instrument, and a speedbar retainer.
In the air
Walking around in the Altirando Lite is very liberating. The leg pads are unrestrictive and the harness feels light. It’s quite easy to get comfortable after launching, too. The seat angle is adjustable but it’s a fairly upright position, and the harness hugs the body closely, feeling secure. I set the harness up before flying, but loosened the shoulder straps off in the air (easy to do).
That also made it easier to weightshift – it’s quite a stable harness, designed to be comfortable for all levels of pilots. Although not super weight-shifty, you still get enough feedback from the wing. The seat plate was a centimetre or two short for me and if I was buying, I’d try the M as well for this aspect – everything else felt perfectly sized.
To conclude then, the Altirando Lite is a great reversible harness, ideal for pilots who have fairly minimal kit and who enjoy walking to launch. It’s light (I weighed the test harness at 2.74kg, agreeing with Supair’s figures) without seeming too delicate, and is comfortable to carry and to fly. It looks great too!
Published in Cross Country Issue 206 (Dec 2019 / Jan 2020)