There’s a lot of aesthetic styling with traditional waist harnesses, often making use of large, molded foam pieces that add weight and complexity. Of course, there’s a space for this, but we wanted to do something different. So, with the Ether, we’ve developed a product that is as simple as possible, without undermining the core function.
Simple is not necessarily easy, and the Ether took about 4 years to be realized in development. The early prototypes were very basic, and some didn’t even have any foam padding so we could fine-tune the shaping, flex zones, and edge tension diffusion. We tend to build a lot of very quick rough ideas to test functional concepts and then polish them into something beautiful afterward.
The objective was high support and comfort, in a harness that packs down to next to nothing. Conceptually, besides minimalism, we followed the fundamentals of biomimicry, where we approached load distribution completely differently and explored the concept of the load plate as a flexible membrane that changes with your body’s movement. Once realized, this was then reinforced by load-bearing lines, just like tendons, supporting heavier loading without adding much weight.
You can see how this construction comes together here: AK Ether Harness – Technology
To expand on the subject of biomimicry, imagine if your body was able to grow a harness over time – How would it diffuse the load and distribute the forces we experience when kiting? The idea is to look at how your body, or nature, would solve these problems and then mimic those solutions in the design. Of course, it’s not only about harnesses, as anything you wear or use to protect yourself should function as a part of your body. Even a product like a fin or a foil needs to be intuitive and feel like an extension of your body. This broader philosophy forms a part of our design ideology, and guided the development of the Ether.
In terms of comfort, we benchmarked a traditional waist harness and worked to remove as much excess material as possible. You’re not going to get the same level of comfort as a traditional harness, or as much support as you would from a hard shell; the Ether forms a lightweight niche in between the traditional constructions.
For those looking for a soft, or hard shell, we have the Synth and Method respectively. The Synth focuses on the classic, or soft-shell market, with the option of a seat attachment too. The Synth Seat Connection is ideal for entry-level riders and race veterans alike. In comparison, the Method is our take on a hardshell design, where we kept the hard composite shell support and incorporated enhanced edge flex into the design for improved ergonomics.
The Ether is one of a series of lightweight concept products that we’re really excited to be using ourselves and sharing with like-minded individuals…
Learn More: Ether Waist Harness