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We’re not going to beat round the bush on this one – the Mystic Stealth has been our go-to harness for kite testing over the last couple of years and has gone unsurpassed in my mind as an exceptionally lightweight hardshell, supportive and snug-fitting carbon battle belt which works for all string-propelled eventualities. When we got wind that there was going to be a revised version released, quite frankly we were a bit worried as we weren’t exactly sure how they’d improve on it. Thankfully, to our delight, the design revisions have been expertly curated and implemented as you’d expect from the old Dutch masters.
First of all, the most noticeable difference is that the backplate got a little smaller in height, maybe 15mm on our size medium. This allows it to pull into the small of your back a little more, and sheds even more bulk from an already minimal harness. The design of the carbon hardshell remains more or less the same; it’s extremely stiff horizontally to alleviate any squeeze on your sides but has enough torsional twist to allow a decent freedom of movement. Internally the EVA has a new pattern, almost like a tire track and an extremely grippy texture that seems to cling onto both neoprene and skin even better than the previous model. This EVA core doesn’t absorb water, so the harness remains exceptionally light regardless of whether it’s been immersed in the drink or not.
The spreader bar sees a completely new mold based around the foundations of the previous system, with the main change being a considerably larger lever for the final closure. This makes the last clamp-in a much easier process, particularly with cold fingers, and involves a lot less fiddling around with webbing as you can just slip the buckle on to the lever and crank it up. It’s now a true set-it-once-and-then-forget-it system and a testament to this is that the webbing storage pocket, which sits behind some thin elasticated material, now has a neat little bungee clip to lock into; once the webbing is tucked behind this it makes things extremely clean in a permanent way. Tucked into the righthand side of the harness, to the rear of the webbing, is an unobtrusive knife pocket. The optional line knife locates itself with a reassuring click, and it’s good to know it’s there and easy to access if a sketchy situation occurs. The dedicated kite safety attachment point has also been revised, with the edges being smoothed out and plastic coated, reducing wear.
The spreader comes as a fixed hook as standard, but for the wave heads out there, a sliding Dyneema setup is available as previously. This is simple to change with two T30 Torx bolts, the same fitting as some hydrofoils. Internally, the Velcro belt for initially positioning the harness has been made a little more minimal, and is now tapered rather than straight. It features a neat little tab to aid release here.
In practice the Stealth remains one of the most comfortable, light and minimal harnesses available on the market, and allows the user to pretty much ignore the fact they are wearing anything. It melts into the small of your back with no ride up, even when overpowered with the kite in a high position. A successful harness design is one that feels like it becomes part of your body, and the Stealth once again achieves this, proving that with the right designer’s eye, you can sometimes improve on something perceived as perfection.