Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hands On: Ronstan Trapeze Harnesses


Last week our Ronstan rep Ben sent us a few of the brand new trapeze harnesses Ronstan has just come out with. There are two models - the standard(left above) and the race(right). They're not ground breaking but these are well built harnesses at a pretty decent price. I tried both harnesses on here in the shop (we have a trap wire mounted to the rope rack). They're both comfortable and both have a pretty standard spreader bar arangemnet with webbing straps adjusted with buckles. The leg and shoulder straps have plastic buckles while the spreader bar itself has stainless climbing harness style buckles.

The standard harness is pretty much just that. It retails for $149 and has the basic adjustments - waist, legs & shoulders. The inside of the shoulder straps is made of a mesh covered foam that should make it more comfortable for warm weather sailing. It has a foam padded lumbar support that is adjustable via Velcro. The price point puts this model level with most of the other entry level harnesses on the market. They all share similar features such as unpadded leg straps and a minimum amount of adjustments. This Ronstan does have a bit more flash to it's appearance if that sort of thing is meaningful to the buyer. It doesn't really do a whole lot of things better than it's competitors but it isn't missing anything they have either.

The race harness is certainly the standout. At a retail of $199 it is at the low end of the price range for a mid-level harness. A few small improvements over the standard model go a long way and in my opinion make this well worth the extra $50. The race model adds padded leg straps, back stiffeners & lower back support straps. Having more back support goes a long way in making this harness more comfortable. The straps above the spreader bar on the wides suck the lower back in tighter and lend a huge amount of support compared to the standard model. Having a stiffer back panel helps a ton also. My lower back was a little sore when I tried these on from a breezy day of Laser sailing the day before. The standard harness didn't help that any but as soon as a cinched down the lower back adjustments on the race harness I immediately felt the additional support. This is a really excellent harness and it's certainly worth the extra $50 above the standard model. It is also cheaper than the other harnesses we have that offer comperable support.

These two new harnesses from Ronstan are welcome additions to the trapeze harness market. The standard model doesn't really offer anything new besides another choice in the entry-level range. I think if you're on a budget and you like how it looks than go for it - otherwise there are other options and a few of them are cheaper. The race harness is an excellent offering that lends it's wearer great support for long days out on the wire. If you want a solid harness without having to break open your kids piggy bank than I think this is the one to get. Trap harnesses will always be a very personal choice and if possible I certainly recommend trying a couple on before picking the one you're going to spend your sailing days in.

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