The Neo String Pack Harness is classified as an ultra light hike and fly harness / backpack. Considering it is weighting in at under 2.3lbs (1030 grams) I would say it is probably the lightest in its class. The Neo String pack is EN certified, super strong with its Dyneema internal structure, and functionally lightweight. Come with us as we get some hands on experience with the Neo String Pack Harness.
When being tasked with testing and evaluating hike and fly setups this summer I immediately reached out to Chris Santacroce at Super Fly to see what “latest and greatest” he had available. He pulled this little package from NEO and opened up to show me the String Pack harness. My first thought was “That’s it? How is that little thing is going to hold a full size glider?” Then Chris went on to pack a 25 meter Gin Atlas X-Alps glider into the pack.
When talking about the String Pack harness I really should be saying system. The pack harness really performs more as a system that incorporates the harness, concertina bags and glider to create a fully functioning lightweight backpack. As you read on you will see it is quite innovative on how they saved weight while retaining the functionality of the system.
The first day out with the string pack harness was a trip to the point of the mountain to make myself familiar with the form and function for the glider harness combo. Putting the harness on is pretty straight forward with the 2 hook in carabiners doubling as your leg strap buckles. As I started kiting before launch my full attention was focused on the little Dyneema strings digging in my inner thighs. The thin straps were quite uncomfortable and made me want to fly as soon as possible. Once I launched I was pleasantly suppressed at how supportive the harness felt in flight. There is a good balance of leg and back support which made for an overall comfortable flying experience. As will almost all light weight harnesses the string pack does not have adjustment options built in, but NEO did a great job or creating a comfortable harness right out of the box. The String pack has relatively high hook in points making it a relatively stable flying platform.
My next task was to get some real world hike and fly. I’m lucky enough to live in a place that is surrounded by 10-12,000 ft mountains. All I had to do was look at the mountain from my house, pick a location that looked suitable for a launch. Then I would hike to the location and then fly.
The first hike provided a fairly open but extremely steep and rock filled launch. It was so steep that when I was setting up, I had trouble keeping the glider from sliding down the hill until I got it totally laid out. The hike took longer than anticipated and by the time I was all set up, there was no wind and the sun was quickly setting. I put the harness on, hooked into the glider and prepared for a steep and rocky forward launch. I picked a decent but committing runway, took a couple deep breaths, final gear check, and took off running. The Gin Atlas X-Alps performed perfectly, coming up fast, on heading and airborne in about 20 ft. Getting settled into the harness was a breeze and the flight back to my car was comfortable.
The next 4 flights were very similar to the first as in being steep, rocky and with very little wind. The harness and wing performed great every time. The launch characteristics of the Gin Atlas X-Alps are phenomenal. The conditions for almost every launch were pretty technical and would have been stressful with any of my other gliders. The light weight, fast and on heading inflations of the Gin Atlas X-Alps really gave me confidence when confronted with the challenging launches.
When in hiking mode the String Pack stayed comfortable in place on my back and wasn’t shifting all over the place. When I lost balance or had to jump down from a set of rocks the String pack came right along with me without bouncing all over the place.
The String Pack design uses every aspect of the pack/harness efficiently to keep the weight down while not sacrifice functionality. This is not a traditional reversible harness. The backpack shoulder straps double as the harness shoulder straps. The seat of the harness doubles as the bottom of the backpack holding the glider in place. The stuff bag/glider clips to the harnesses and once strapped in becomes the internal structure giving it the feel of a traditional framed backpack. The stretchable storage bag will easily hold a variety of wings, from ultra-light mountain to light intermediate gliders. A Lycra helmet holder is available as an option and will stretch to fit your helmet snugly the top of the String Pack.
One thing I wouldn’t mind sacrificing a couple grams of weight for would be some heavier fabric on the bottom panel of the pack while in backpack mode. This portion of the pack takes a lot of abuse when hiking around. Every time you sit down that portion of the pack is being dragged across the ground and will eventually be destroyed with the current light weight fabric. Another plus to having some more durable fabric here is additional strength for the belly band to pull against. I ended up putting a little tear in my setup by pulling on the belly band to cover the glider when packing it up.
In summary, this pack is light, functional, EN Certified and super strong. The String Pack is ideal for pilots of intermediate to advance skill levels looking to hiking, climb, or run to a launch site in the mountains.
*** The guys at Neo Fly informed me that the next generation String Pack will have more pack volume and more durable material in the bottom panel as mentioned above.
For more information visit. www.flyneo.com
Special thanks to US importer Super Fly. Visit: Superflyinc.com