Last updated 6-02-2024

Seat vs Waist?

How to choose the right kiteboarding gear.

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Choosing Between a Waist Harness and a Seat Harness: Which is Right for You?

Should I buy a waist or seat kiteboarding harness? 

One of the most common questions is, "Should I choose a waist harness or a seat harness?" When it comes to kiteboarding, one of the most crucial decisions you'll make is whether to opt for a waist harness or a seat harness.
The choice boils down to one key factor: comfort. Your kitesurfing harness is the primary link between you and your kite. Like a well-fitting pair of running shoes, you need a harness that doesn't chafe or pinch, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable ride.

Important factors when buying a kitesurfing harness:

  •  Choose what meets your specific needs.
  •  Ensure it Fits comfortably
  •  Pick a fit that mitigates chafing or riding up.
  •  Ride what provides support where you need it
  •  Buy a harness that allows full range of motion if desired

At a glance, seat harnesses are often used by riders who want the most back support, protect their ribs, and save money on a harness that will not ride up. They are easier to learn with, but you will lose some flexibility. They are more expensive than a wait, and some dislike the feeling. Waist harnesses provide the most freedom of movement.

The right waist harness can offer more than enough back support, and a well-chosen hardshell harness won't ride up, chef, or cause concern with a rib injury. They can be more expensive, but the right fit is critical. Like the waist harness, some people do not like the stiff feel of hard shells and opt for a hybrid waist harness or a more encompassing softshell.

There are a lot of choices, so we'll cover what you need to know in this blog to make an educated decision. Remember, our shop is always open for you to speak with an expert and get advice on the best kitesurfing harness. We're here to help you find the perfect fit.

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Table Of Content

  • Should I Buy a Kiteboarding Waist Harness?
  • Types of Kitesurfing Waist Harnesses.
  • Pros and Cons of a Kiteboarding Waist Harness.
  • Should I Buy a Kiteboarding Seat Harness?
  • Pros and Cons of s Kitesurfing Seat Harness.
  • How do I Decided between a Waist Harness and a Seat harness? 
  • Get an Expert Harness Recomendation. 

Should I Buy a Kiteboarding Waist Harness?

A waist harness is generally the choice for high-level big air, freestyle, and wave riders. They are the most popular choice, and for good reason. They allow you to have a full range of motion and kitesurf more athletically. With the new hybrid and hardshell harnesses available from most brands, you can reap many of the benefits of a seat harness with the performance of a waist harness. High-end harnesses can be more expensive, but many argue that this is an area you shouldn't compromise.

Types of kitesurfing waist harness

Hardshell Harness: This is the most expensive and most supportive option. It tends to be stiff with smart torsional flex. It often has a low profile, is made not to ride up, and lasts longer than soft shells. For its comfort, support, and longevity, it is the most premium option for everyone, from extreme athletes to beginners.

Hybrid Harness: These are an amazing blend of hard and soft. They have the full flex of a softshell, tend to have a medium profile, and bring the support, longevity, and many other benefits of a hard shell. They are also designed not to ride up or chafe. These are popular among wave riders who need flex and support.

Softshell Harness: We used these before harness tech went wild. They work well for many people. They tend to have a high-profile fit and can be supportive. Depending on how it fits you, it might not ride up. The main issue is that they can wear out over time. Without the support of the back plate, it could be less comfortable a few years later. Some riders love them, but they are not as supportive.

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Cons of a waist harness:

Cost: Price can be a concern. Premium hardshell harnesses can get expensive, but you pay for comfort and performance. If you're on a budget, try a few and see if a standard soft shell feels good. If not, a seat harness is a surefire way to keep the harness from riding up.

Not perfect for all body shapes: While most people can use a waist harness, some body shapes are better suited to a seat harness. If you're very skinny or have an hourglass shape, you might find a good-fitting waist harness, but you might consider a seat harness that won't ride up.

One design doesn't fit all: A premium hardshell will provide incredible support for most, especially with plush ergonomic padding. Some riders need a seat harness, as the center of gravity comes from their hips, taking the strain off their core.

Pros of a Kitesurfing Waist Harnesses

Flexibility: Waist harnesses, the choice of high-level big air, freestyle, and wave riders, offer a full range of motion. They allow riders to move their bodies freely for landing tricks or navigating waves. They are also ideal for big air tricks or freestyle tricks. Kitesurfers who ride in the waves almost always choose a softshell or hybrid harness for torsional flex and freedom of movement.

Comfort: Because waist harnesses offer more freedom around the lower body, they don't restrict movement, making them suitable for maneuvers like riding or landing blind. Seat harnesses can feel more encompassing, and you'll have straps around your legs.

Fit and Movement: Modern waist harnesses go to great lengths to ensure a perfect fit. Some have specific molds, materials, and padding to ensure the harness doesn't ride up and flex in the right places.

Lightweight: Waist harnesses are lighter and often have less material. The weight depends on the construction. For example, a carbon harness with minimal padding will be lighter than something with plush padding that can absorb water. As the weight is at your center of gravity, this has no impact on your riding or experience. It's something to consider when keeping weight down when traveling. A wet, heavy harness can put an airline bag over the limit.

Wide variety of styles: There are softshell harnesses, hardshell, and hybrids. A hardshell will last longer and provide the most support and comfort without riding up. A softshell can be very comfortable but might wear out and chafe or ride up over time. A good hybrid is the best of both worlds. You'll get good flex, good support, and the longevity of a hard shell. Hardshells are the most expensive, hybrids are usually priced in the middle, and softshells are the most economical. This lets you choose something comfortable and within your budget.

Should I buy a Kiteboarding Seat Harness?

Pros of a kiteboarding seat Harness:

A Lower Hook Point: This feature reduces the load on your lower back, making handling the kite's power easier. It's especially beneficial for those who experience discomfort with waist harnesses. You can sit into the harness rather than engage your core. This will also allow riders with short arms to engage the entire length of their kite depower system.

Stability: Seat harnesses, known for their secure fit, stay in place better than softshell waist harnesses. Ideal for beginners and those who spend a lot of time with the kite overhead. This stability can also help with power control and reaching the bar.

Nice for People with Rib Injuries: People with nagging rib injuries often choose a seat harness. You'll sit in the harness with leg straps, keeping everything low and far away from your rib cage.  

Female Kitesurfers: Women tend to have shorter arms, sometimes an hourglass shape, or a more petite frame. This means that all waist harnesses might ride up on them. If you have tried on several hardshell harnesses and it still slides up, a seat harness is a guaranteed way to keep it down. An added benefit is this will lower the chicken loop and bring the control bar closer to you. This allows you to sheet the entire length of the control bar.

Suitable for Children and Beginners: For the same reasons listed above, the lower hook point keeps the bar closer, allowing people with a shorter reach to fully depower their kite when sheeting. It's also a surefire way to prevent riding up, making the first rides easier.

Riders with Back Issues: It's common for riders with back issues to choose an encompassing supportive seat harness. Sitting into the harness and limiting mobility feels right to them. You won't have to engage your core as much. This isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, as some prefer the stiffness and support of a hardshell waist harness. You'll want to try both to see what feels right. That said, it's a good starting point if this is you.

Big Air Kiters: Sometimes, Big-air-style riders are drawn to seat harnesses to protect their ribs. To be candid, the mobility and athleticism of a waist harness are superior for kite loops. A seat harness is perfect if you want maximum hangtime and glide. If you are doing powered kite loops, you will put a lot of strain on the straps of a seat harness. 

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Cons of a kiteboarding seat Harness:

Less range of motion: A big supportive seat harness with straps on your legs will limit flexibility.

Can be less comfortable: This is subjective, so trying a harness on first is essential. Some people love the feel, while others do not like the leg straps or the lower hook point.

How do I decide between a waist and a seat harness?

How do I decide between a waist and a seat harness?

Here are some factors to consider when choosing your harness:

Riding Style: Big air, freestyle and surf riders often prefer waist harnesses for flexibility. If you enjoy freeride, getting hangtime and racing, a seat harness might provide the support and lower hook point you need. 

Comfort and Fit: Waist harnesses should fit snugly to avoid riding up. Conversely, seat harnesses offer more support and are less likely to shift, which can be crucial for long sessions. Seat harnesses are helpfull for those who need to limit the use of their core.

Harness Movement: If you prefer a harness that stays in place, a molded waist harness or a well-fitted hardshell or seat harness is ideal. A softer, more flexible waist harness might be better for more freedom of movement but it could ride up on you. 

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Tips for buying a kiteboarding harness.

Try Different Options: A good school will offer a range of harnesses during lessons. Feel free to ask to try different types to find your best fit.

Invest in Quality: Don't skimp on your harness. A good harness will improve your riding experience and reduce discomfort.

Choose a good fit for your shape: You should like how the harness feels. Don't go by what's popular; choose what fits you correctly. Comfort is king.
Harness Size: Depending on the brand, you might need a different size for waist and seat harnesses. Ensure you get the right size for optimal comfort and performance. Some brands fit smaller or larger than others. Check the manufacturer guide or speak with someone at the shop for insight on sizing.

Where can I buy a kiteboarding Harness?

Choosing between a waist and seat harness depends on your riding style, physicality, and preference. You can find the perfect harness by trying different options and considering your needs. Call us to talk with an expert kiteboarder and get a recommendation. At Elite Watersports, we've tested many harnesses over the years, and we're happy to figure out what would be best for you and your situation.

Where can I try on a kiteboarding Harness?

The expert team at Elite Watersports is here to serve. If you have any kiteboarding related questions call us. We can build custom kiteboarding packages, book kiteboarding lessons or simply offer helpful advice. We're your one stop shop for kiteboarding knowledge.
Swing by the shop and you can try on different kiteboarding harnesses and more. 

If you need help deciding on your first kiteboarding kite give Elite Watersports a call. We're happy to set you up with your first kiteboarding kite.



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Ryan "Rygo" Goloversic



Seat Vs Waist Kiteboarding Harness

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