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New backmount vest (Klassen Lite)


Mitch Gross
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Walter Klassen has posted info on his new lightweight backmount vest and an upgrade to his support arm for the socket block.  Anyone test this stuff out yet?  I'm curious how different Walter's light vest is from the Action Products backmount design.

Hi Mitch,

 

I've tried out his new Lightweight harness about 2 weeks ago. Its got all the same key features as the Deluxe harness (air bladder, memory foam, excellent workmanship, etc.). The harness is overall smaller than the Deluxe and I found that this created some pressure between my shoulder blades when I used the harness with heavier cameras(35mm). I think it would be ideal for a lighter camera such as video cameras but for film uses I still prefer the Deluxe as there is more surface area so the weight/pressure is distributed over a larger area. Other than that, the Lightweight harness felt just as good as the Deluxe. The other major change is also the "door" design. The harness has only one "door" making it easier getting in and out of the harness. Mind you I never had any problems getting in and out of the Deluxe harness.

 

 

Walter's new Lightweight is very different from the Action Products. Walter's Lightweight is essentially a pared down version of his Deluxe. It is still constructed using the same materials and techniques of the Deluxe. The Action Products version is a non-rigid vest in the sense that they don't use a carbon fiber shell like Walter does.

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I also have tried out the new "Walter Light". It was not quite the right size/shape for my body, but I am sure based on past experience with Walter that were I interested in one he would make sure the fit was correct. I used it for several days on a 3 week commercial with my Moviecam Compact loaded with accessories so it was a fairly heavy load. Initially I did not think there was much difference from my standard, now "Traditional Deluxe" model, but when I returned to it I immediately noticed how much wider the back support was. Definitely for heavier sleds the Deluxe is the way to go. However, the Light is definitely much lighter (comparing it to my front mounted vest - a Master with some additional larger frame parts and foam - the Light was clearly lighter). Lower cost should ease the entry to back mounted harnesses as well a the lighter weight. Overall I would say it is a step up from front mount in terms of support and comfort, but not as supportive as the Deluxe. The quality is just as high, and the fit potentially as good, although with the single door in the front (instead of the overlapping style of the Deluxe) rigidity depends on a more exact size match so the front door comes right up to the side panel when tightened down for maximum rigidity. The adjustable air bladder offers a fairly easy fine tuning of this fit.

 

Larry

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Hi all, Jennifer here from Walter Klassen FX,

 

Thanks for your interest and thanks Larry and Eric for talking about your experiences.

 

In response to feedback from the operators who tested the "Walter-Light", all ordered models will have a wider upper-back. This way operating with a heavier load won't cause this pressure on the shoulder blades. It's a small adjustment and will have a minimal effect on the weight.

 

I'll keep an eye on this thread and would be happy to answer any other questions.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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After getting my arse kicked on a music video last week (single, 4-minute Steadicam shot), I was toast for about 4 days. Besides the usual spine-compression feeling (which we're all used to), my right trapezius was killing me. I naturally have really big traps (I know, this sounds funny, but I don't look like a no-necked meathead!), and the constant tensing of those muscles really took its toll.

 

So I've decided that it's time to seriously consider a back-mounted vest. But here's the dilema that I'm sure we all face; the DSD has become the industry standard, but $9k is A LOT for a vest. I know, it's a lot cheaper than career-ending back pain, but...

 

So, then there's $7,750 for the lightweight version. Well, if I'm going to spend that much, what's another $1250.00?!!!java script:emoticon(':blink:')

 

Lastly, there's the ActionCam, at $3700. I know this has been asked before, but can anyone give a comparison between this vest and the DSD's? I haven't tried either, but I hope to try demos of both. Thanks, Max Fischer

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Max, I haven't had the pleasure of using Walters Product yet I do own the Actioncam product. It's a well made device that provides the basic advantages of the backmounted configuration. With Brian's dedicated service and support it's a great value at $3700. Having said that, if I had the money to purchase a custom fitted BMV there's no question I would go with Walter's product. He's know for making quality gear and a custom fit can only be a plus.

Just my 2 cents.

 

 

Ramon Engle

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Hi Max,

 

It's actually $8500.-

 

But seriously.

 

As you know Max, I own a Walter Klassen build Vest, (is that the politically correct definition? as all DSD and Klassen F/X are build by him). And I tried one of Brian's (ActionProducts) early models. That experience actually pushed me over the edge to go ahead and purchase the DSD. It was nicely put together and fit quite well until I put weight on it, the moment I picked up the rig it turned into a painful experience. I don't know if he has done any improvements since then, I very much hope so.

 

As they say, you get what you pay for. Why did you go with the PRO rig instead of the Glidecam Gold? Works pretty much the same... doesn't it? Or does it?

 

Is it a lot of money? Yes.

Is it worth it? Hell yes.

 

Also Walter's service is an asset that you can't compare to prices. Hand's down, great product and craftsmanship, even greater costumer service...

 

But then again...

 

Try both and make up your own mind.

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I could not agree more with Erwin!

 

I´m using my DSD here in the incredibly hot and humid conditions in Thailand and I have used my original front-mounted IIIa vest before in similar conditions in Cambodia and I can onl say: DSD has saved my life!

 

I have tried the vest from Action products, when it came to Holland. Mark the Blok has bought it and is happy with it, I think.

But it could not really compare to the fit and comfort of my DSD.

I´m happy I made the right choice for me!

 

 

 

Rob van Gelder, Bangkok, Thailand

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I've had some fitting issues with my Back mounted vest this post is just to say thanks very publicly to Walter Klassen, and his very special workshop folks for taking care of my problems in the most professional way I've ever been dealt with by an equipment supplier. Steadicam Operating isn't so much the rig as the person. In Vest making this has also proved to be true.

TJ Williams

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This line is getting longer...

 

From another operator on another continent same praise as above must be said. Had a fantastic time in Toronto fitting my harness and was fortunate enough to meet the people behind the magic, so again, thanks Walter and your very professional crew.

 

Joel Olsson, Stockholm, Sweden

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