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Hardshell harnesses without a doubt changed the industry and are a mainstay of every soft goods manufacturer across the market. With the Halo, Manera have given this concept a complete rethink, almost flipping it inside out. Visually, you are presented with something that looks like it’s from the Aliens film series, a futuristic looking black exoskeleton that wouldn’t look out of place in science fiction. What’s immediately apparent is that a lot of thought has gone into it. They’ve bucked the trend and gone well off-piste design-wise.
The concept is as follows… A soft inner skin, comprising of a textured neoprene back pad and Velcro belt, wraps extremely comfortably around your body, and this is your point of contact. Integrated on top of this, a secondary mesh layer then compresses this to your body shape. Finally a sturdy plastic bar takes the load across your back and gives the harness its hardshell structure, preventing side loading.
At the business end, there are closure levers on each side of the spreader, which have a firm click to let you know they are engaged, and the usual elasticated areas to tuck away any excess webbing. The webbing is ribbed and easy to adjust in the double buckles, and clicks in small increments in a reassuring fashion. Hidden in here, there are three slots each side to adjust the amount of webbing you need for your waist size. The spreader itself has a well thought out rounded mold with no harsh edges. The closure levers fit flush with the rest of the molding. Two fairly large 120mm plastic tabs slide back around your sides into the hardshell to firm up support there. An integrated line knife tucks neatly into the inner belt as standard and is accessible from a sensible brightly colored tab located underneath.
The concept of the load arc is genius; removing the load bearing part of the harness from body contact means you don’t feel that harshness across your back, and the closure is so easy to tighten; combined with the excellent fit, it’s like someone has grafted a spreader bar below your ribs with some permanence. We also found there was very little wear-in period. It just seemed to sit comfortably and not move anywhere. This design is going to conform to a massive range of body shapes more effectively than a standard hardshell, but provide similar levels of support. There are also M+ and S+ sizes that have longer spreader bars for people with wider hips and more oval body shapes.
For the multi-disciplinarian, everything is included in one purchase, with the package containing both sliding and fixed hooks as standard. These are swappable with a simple flat head screwdriver on the back of the pad. The rope slider system is a unique material with a dense and slippery external weave on the cord to minimize wear. Dyneema leash points are present on both sides of the spreader, for left and right-handed people. From a longevity perspective, there’s a complete range of component spares available, which should extend the life of the harness almost indefinitely.
Initially we were a little skeptical of the Halo, thinking perhaps an orthopedic specialist had infiltrated the Manera office and taken charge, but they’ve built something elegant and groundbreaking. The Halo could well herald the biggest design shake up in the harness sector since the advent of the hardshell, ticking all the boxes, fusing the support levels of a pure hardshell with the comfort and flexibility of a softshell, and pulling off something quite special in the process.