Manera has established itself as a leader in the harness category, and now with the release of the new Halo harness, the brand has pushed the comfort and performance of the harness field in a new direction.
At first glance, the Halo’s floating frame and slim support surfaces look like something straight out of a Star Trek movie. The Halo concept effectively separates the soft and hard functions of the harness while ensuring that the spreader bar is connected directly to the rigid frame, distributing the pulling forces in a ring around the rider (hence the name Halo). We tend to think of this as the combo of a rigid chassis that maintains the structure and helps distribute the load evenly using a flexible backplate (Adaptive Skin) to give the plush but thin inner liner (Softshell) just enough structure to support your midsection. The harness’ extra flexibility around the edge of the template is the key quality that gives kiters extra freedom of movement while riding.
It’s a fascinating concept, but in actual practice the interior backplate delivers an incredibly comfortable back support that flexes and molds to your contours while the rigid chassis prevents pinching or compression points at your sides and hips. With a thin liner and both the chassis and backplate surfaces machined out, the Halo keeps its weight down, but most importantly, it provides a higher degree of mobility for the rider while also distributing the loads of hard riding across your entire back.
Beyond the groundbreaking feel of the harness, the Halo also features Manera’s new Arc spreader bar connection system that uses extra rigid molded tuck flaps that have more structure and better integrate the spreader bar into the harness frame. The beauty of this design is that it eliminates hook torque without having to over-tighten your harness like a girdle and ensures that the harness bar can’t rotate into your ribs. Manera has always had robust tuck flaps that integrate into the harness body, but this extra rigid design takes that concept to the next level. The enclosure system features an ambidextrous lever clasp on either side that makes getting in and out easy, and makes a clear locking sound when snapped closed so you know you have a secure connection and are ready to go. You get dual webbing adjusters on either side which make it easy to adjust the tension and get the prefect fit.
In terms of support, we tested the Halo against the Exo 2.0 and found that the Halo’s soft shell is a little taller in the center of your back, but the significantly thinner nature of the Halo profile delivers more freedom to your torso around the edges of the harness. You are likely going to notice this when attempting grabs, or getting some extra torsional freedom while surfing. We noted that the interior material with its stamped finish and soft cloth feel has a fairly grippy connection to our wetsuit (we will test sans wetsuit when we get somewhere warm) so combined with its more ergonomic fit, the Halo doesn’t rotate around you as much as the Exo 2.0 (Manera’s existing flex model in the lineup). In terms of back support, the Halo might not have as much rigid support as a you get from a dedicated hardshell, mostly because it doesn’t have a rigid fixed surface, but because of the Halo’s rigid chassis it still does a good job of preventing horizontal compression. The Halo offers a refined feeling of softness and flexibility while still giving you the benefit of load distribution that people often seek from a hardshell. Basically, the Halo offers a new hybrid class of support that scores high on the two key goals of load distribution and rider flexibility.
Clearly, there’s been quite a bit of thought put into this design; with a modular build, all of the parts are replaceable in case of wear or damage. There are lots of fit and finish details like the easily accessible kite knife on the belly band and harness rope and spreader hook options which both come stock on the Arc bar. It’s easy to swap between the hook and the rope; the molded spreader bar opens with a quarter to replace ropes in case of wear, but you will need a wrench to remove the stainless hook altogether.
Overnight, the Halo has become our favorite Manera harness. To be honest, when we first saw photos of the Halo, we had suspicions that the new design would fall into the paired down minimalist category, but we were wrong – this harness is about comfort, rider flexibility and pushing harness tech in a new direction.