After visiting Walter's shop today to be fitted for a harness, I couldn't agree more with Wil, that a personal visit and fitting will no doubt give you a better harness. As a bonus, you have the opportunity to meet a wonderfully talented and creative man, and get a peak at some of the other products he is developing.
I personally ordered a Universal harness. Some were referring to the Light, which is a different animal than the Universal. There is the Traditional Deluxe, which is the mac daddy for around $8500. The Universal is very similar to the Traditional Deluxe. The main differences are a simplified carbon fiber process, and less intricate leather work, resulting in 3 days less labor, and a price tag around $6500. The internal pads are exactly the same, and all Klassen harnesses have the air bladder. The shoulder straps on the Universal are thinner than the TD, and that was the only comfort difference I noticed. Walter, as usual over achieving, is going to figure out a way to give me wider shoulder straps on the Universal harness.
Some new features on the harnesses are:
- a curved front door, available on either the Universal, or the TD, The front door can be permanently hinged on one side with ratchets on the other side, or ratchets on both sides. This give more squeeze front to back than the original 2 door system. Older vests are upgradable, for a charge.
- the hinged side of the curved front door can have a metal hinge that uses an arm pin to secure the hinge. For those who want to transport their expensive vest in a case, removing the pin greatly reduces the height of the harness for storage. I ordered this option.
- Walter is contouring the carbon fiber above the hips on the front of the sled by about an inch or so. This mod should give just a tad more clearance and reduce pinching.
- they have changed the knob style, per operator input.
- I chose the low profile arm with a 3" drop down for my main arm. I am 6' 2", and have always been fighting to find that lens height between the bottom of high mode, and the top of low mode. With the drop down arm adjusted all the way up, the arm is in a normal position. 1/2 way down the vertical adjustment, and I am still near eyeline for most people. All the way down, and I can get to a seated eyeline very easily. A bonus is that, with the arm on the right side, my right forearm clears the arm covers. It's just more comfortable for me. The only downside is that, with the vertical adjustment all the way up, it moves the force higher up into your back. This could be remedied with a longer arm post, and lowering the carbon arm on the back of the vest. Walter said that Larry McKonkey, who owns both arms, is flying the drop down carbon arm the majority of the time, and Larry is a little bit shorter than me (and a lot bit more talented).
All said and done, I ended up with a Universal harness, single curved front door with the metal hinge, countoured above the hips, custom wider shoulder straps, low profile 3" dropdown arm, air pump, tool kit with spare parts for less than $6300. I can't wait to get it. I believe this harness is the best thing you can do for your comfort and your body, but that's just my opinion.
The trip was invaluable. Walter had 5 different harnesses for me to try on. Models for Garrett Brown, David Allen Grove, and Faires Anderson were in various stages of completion. He had a weighted rig and 3A arm to play with, so I didn't need to bring a thing across the border. I spent about 4 hours at the shop, and walked away knowing that I have the perfect harness for me coming. I just couldn't have ended up with the same thing over the phone.
Plus Toronto isn't a bad place to hang out. Bring your significant other for the weekend and catch a play.