Charlie King tries Woody Valley’s Wani Light 2, their updated, well-designed reversible harness, at home in the French Alps.
Clever design makes this reversible harness equally good in both harness and rucksack modes – plus it’s comfortable in flight.
Woody Valley brought out a new version of the Wani Light lightweight reversible open harness at the end of last year. It can be used for hike-and-fly, but also for everyday flying as it has back protection and a built-in reserve compartment and bridles. The rucksack is designed for serious walking, and it looks as if as much thought and attention to detail have gone into the rucksack as the harness.
The Wani Light 2 is made in four sizes and as always the advice is to try it on if you are in an overlap zone on the size chart. From my measurements Woody Valley advised an S, and it was a good fit although the seat plate was possibly a smidge short, though it was supportive enough. I’d like to try the M as well as the seat plate is longer, and the rucksack slightly larger (S is 80l, M is 88l).
It’s a nice-looking piece of kit, and comes in dark blue with either light blue or orange accents. I was impressed with the rucksack. It’s well shaped and light without scrimping on padding. It’s as comfortable to walk with as any decent hiking rucksack, staying tight against the body, with a good narrow shape. The (removable) hip belt is comfortable too.
The rucksack is smaller than my usual one, with no room for a build-up of miscellaneous clothing that seems to gather if you let it.
The rucksack was full with my BGD Echo S, helmet, gloves and instrument, and one jumper. One of the big stretchy side pockets swallowed my down jacket, a GoPro on a stick and my empty flight deck. Tardis pockets! A water bottle can go in the other side pocket and can be reached on the go.
I often fly with an SLR camera with a biggish lens. To fit it inside meant relegating the helmet to the helmet-holder, which flips out of a little zipped compartment on top. My phone went in a zipped waistbelt pocket, snacks in the zipped top pocket.
Woody Valley have solved the problem of the airbag being vulnerable when in rucksack mode by having a two-zip system with an extra flap, so the airbag is not on the outside.
The harness has all the usual adjustments and was easy to set up. It has lightweight thread-through leg and chest buckles and comes with a two-step speedbar. Zipped pockets on either side mean you can keep things handy in flight, and there’s room in the back pocket for other paraphernalia.
It’s easy to get into after launch and to get legs down for landing. I found it comfortable and supportive in the air with good feedback and weightshift-ability, but by the end of longer flights I’d start to notice the back is less supportive than my everyday harness (which is 50% heavier, with foam back protection). The same goes for the other harnesses I’ve flown in this category recently: there is an optional rigid back protector available for the Wani Light 2, and this would likely improve back support.
The reserve was easy enough to fit (see the video on Woody Valley’s website) and the handle sits neatly against the harness. The compartment can take reserves up to five litres, which is bigger than its predecessor, and it can be ordered with a left-side handle.
Nitinol in the airbag helps preinflate it. Woody Valley say pre-launch protection is around 60%, and that when fully inflated protection is comparable to their spring airbag harnesses. They have moved the airbag inlet valve on this version too, to avoid obstruction by the pilot’s legs.
This is a great reversible harness, that’s not only light, but equally good in both harness and rucksack modes. “Brilliant”, I said to a friend when she asked. She bought one and is happy too.
Woody Valley say: “A consistently lightweight harness with maximum safety for the hike-and-fly pilot”
Protection: Airbag (partial pre-inflation); integrated reserve container
Pilot level: All levels
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight (kg): 2.6, 2.75, 2.9, 3.2
This review was in Cross Country Magazine issue 214.