Launched back in 2004, Ion focuses on high quality wetsuits, harnesses, travel gear, apparel and accessories for the international windsurf, kitesurf, surf, SUP and wakeboard scenes. For 2018, Ion has a new line of hardshell harnesses and a unique interchangeable spreader bar system where you can swap out your system with just a few screws. Ion’s Dan Schwartz walks us through the line including Ion’s new wetsuits which offer two styles for body types.


ION HAS INTRODUCED A WHOLE NEW CONCEPT TO THE SPREADER BAR SYSTEM WITH THE ALL NEW C BAR THAT OFFERS RIDERS OPTIONS OF INTERCHANGEABLE HOOKS. HOW DOES THE C BAR WORK AND WHAT ARE ITS BENEFITS AND OPTIONS?         

We put a lot of effort into our new bar. We analyzed the shortcomings on our previous spreader bars and other bars on the market and came to a few conclusions: (1) The entire bar/pad should not absorb water, yet it should remain pliable and comfortable against the skin. To this end we came up with an integrated molded spreader bar pad. (2) The lower strap attachment point needs to be lowered and angled to keep the bar from pulling up into your ribs, especially when jumping. (3) The spreader bar needs to do what its name implies: spread the forces of the kite evenly around your body. As such we designed the bar to be fully symmetric (if you look closely, most spreader bars on the market hinge closer to the center on the right where you clip in than on the left where the straps attach to the bar directly). With the increasing interest in alternate ways of connecting to the kite (rope spreader bars, smaller chicken loops, metal sliders, windsurf hooks, etc.) we wanted to make it easy to switch between hooks without replacing the entire pad, so we made it easy to swap out hooks without replacing the entire spreader bar pad.

 

The rider we envisioned when we developed this harness is one who knows what they want, and who wants the best possible harness for what they’re doing. Carbon obviously means the harness will be light and stiff, but we also wanted to maintain the comfort our harnesses are famous for, so all of our CS harnesses taper off the carbon/stiffness towards the ends/edges to make them give a little more and feel more natural against your back/sides. Wave riders looking for the ultimate comfort will probably be best suited to the Wave harness. It’s slippery inside paired with the most flex (latitudinally along the ‘seams’ in the carbon, yet it is still very stiff top-to-bottom along the entire back) to allow the harness to move with you. For freeriders I’d recommend, obviously, the Freeride harness. With the high back and sticky inside, this harness will give you the most support and will be the best at keeping the harness from riding up when sending the biggest airs. For those looking for the ultimate freestyle harness, the CS Hadlow is the way to go. It’s the stiffest of our harnesses, with the stiffness localized in a lower profile than the CS Freeride, so it allows more body movement without sacrificing support and comfort.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF CHANGES TO YOUR WETSUIT LINEUP INCLUDING NEW MATERIALS, NEW TECH AND A STREAMLINED OFFERING OF TWO STYLES OF SUITS, THE ONYX AND STRIKE SERIES FOR MEN, AND THE JEWEL AND TRINITY SERIES FOR WOMEN. EXPLAIN HOW A RIDER SHOULD BEST CHOOSE A WETSUIT FOR THEIR SIZE AND USAGE.    

Size and usage go a bit hand-in-hand. Kiters and windsurfers tend to use their forearms and quads more than surfers. As such they tend to have a different build, and when kiting they tend to get forearm and leg pump, so they need more room in the arms and legs than surfers. Similarly, surfers tend to use their shoulders a lot, so they need more room in the shoulders with a narrower cut elsewhere. Hence we offer two cuts, the Onyx and the Trinity are surf cut for men and women, while the Strike and Jewel are windsport cut, again for men and women respectively. All of these suits employ a lot of new tech, aqua alpha water-based seams on all of our suits means more environmentally friendly construction. Bigger cut patterns means better longevity/flexibility and preglued maki tape 2.0 means more uniform quality in seam construction. Choosing a suit within each line is basically up to the customer. The Select lineup on the Onyx and Strike series offers the most flexible rubber paired with the warmest quick-drying liner you can find. The Amp level on all of our lines offers the same highly flexible rubber with a liner that sacrifices a little warmth for increased flex in a liner. Then the Core level is our most popular, all-around suit for a good combination of flex and warmth, with the Element level being our price point suit, a great suit at a great price.

TELL US ABOUT THE NIFTY NEW HELMETS THAT COLLEEN CARROLL SHOWED US AT NORTH’S DEALER MEETING THIS YEAR.            

The Hardcap 3.1 goes next level… It is still available in three levels, Hardcap 3.1, Hardcap 3.1 Comfort, and Hardcap 3.1 Select. All three have a twisty fit-to-your-skull adjustment that makes fitting to your individual head simple. All three also have EVA padding and a water repellent lining. The Comfort version adds ear pads and a fancy, more easily adjusted buckle, while the Select version adds memory foam lining on the ear pads and a crazy cool magnetic buckle.

ION COMPLETELY REHAULED ITS TEC BAG LINE FOR 2018. HOW DO ION’S BAGS STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION? WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS OF THE NEW BAGS?              

It’s hard to get super stoked on a new bag, but I’m definitely super stoked on the new Tec bags in our lineup. First of all, we’re using a new lighter weight but more durable ripstop material. We’ve also added a few convenient new handles, including the ‘sherpa belt’, basically a shoulder strap to hold a wheeled boardbag as you walk. Most importantly though, the biggest complaint I can make about our old bags and many other bags on the market is how certain areas take wear much more quickly than others. Often the area between or right behind the wheels, where an overloaded bag drags for miles on airport carpets. To deal with this in the past the solution has generally been to reinforce the area with more and thicker fabrics. This is also the general solution to the ‘slouchy’ bag when it’s not supported by the correct size twin tip. To solve both of these issues we’ve spec’d a new thermo molded PE plate through this entire area. It’s more durable than the multiple layers of fabric, plus its lighter and it offers structural support along the whole back. All told, this stronger, easier to carry, more durable bag weighs up to 35% lighter than last year’s version.


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