Four years ago Manera released the Exo harness to the market. Working with a human kinetic science lab, Manera developed the Energy Dispersion Frame, a technology that disperses the pressure of the kite around the entire harness and eliminates pressure points, fatique and pain, and allows the rider a more comfortable and longer ride. This year, Manera released the Union, a new harness with the same load dispersion technology and comfort but at a much lighter weight.
From the front, both harnesses look similar and both feature Manera’s spreader bar system: appropriately sized spreader bars for each harness size (XS/S/M/L/XL/XXL) to reduce warping and lateral contraction along the sides of the harness.
Both the Union and the Exo feature Manera’s Down Hold System and Tuck Flap technology. The Down Hold System features an asymmetrical buckle that distributes the pull from the kite downwards in order to avoid the hook from pulling upwards and pulling your harness up into your torso along with it. The Tuck Flaps are extra stiff flaps inserted into the harness that assist the Down Hold System by keeping the spreader bar and buckle connection in place and preventing the harness from riding up.
The Union looses the visual appearance of the Energy Dispersion Frame on its exterior but instead has an Energy Dispersion Plate inside. This plate works the same but instead of placing the technology on the exterior, the plate is placed on the interior of the harness, eliminating excess foam and unnecessary stitching, and providing a more durable and long-lasting harness.
Finally, the biggest difference in the Union and the Exo harnesses is its foam construction. The Union uses a single injection mold for a single-piece foam backing which reduces unnecessary stitching and glue compared to the Exo which uses two Thermo foam layers along with two Nest foam layers. Consequently, the Union’s new construction makes the harness incredibly light — a size medium Union with no spreader bar weighs in at 2.4lbs! Due to the lack of multiple foam layups, the Union doesn’t absorb water and stays feather light during your entire session.
One of the biggest features we noticed while riding the Union vs. Exo is that the Exo has a slightly raised arc in the lumbar while the Union is more rounded. While the harness stays in place vertically, this allows for the harness to easily slide horizontally around your waist (think traveling spreader bar), making kite stance more comfortable when riding waves but also allowing you to keep your hook for strapless freestyle or unhooked riding.