Paragliding was first envisioned back in the 80’s as a way to get down easier and more safely after climbing big peaks. As most accidents happen on the way down if alpinists could fly down they would remove a major component of risk, as well as save their knees (and have a lot more fun!). But serious alpine style mountaineering means going light and fast and carrying an extra 5-10kg of flying kit has kept flying off the big technical peaks mostly out of reach.
Until now. After 30+ years of testing and innovation I imagine the climbing community is getting pretty giddy. I recently received Niviuk’s new Skin 2 P single surface wing. At a measly 1.9 kg I figured it was going to feel and fly pretty weird but when I learned from Fabien Blanco at Flyeo during a recent podcast that pilots were doing 100k triangles on these certified wings I was pretty excited to give it a try.
Before I even got to the hill I was amazed with the Roamer 2 reversible harness. This little bad boy is a MAJOR improvement over it’s predecessor. The rucksack is bomber and built with all the things that paragliding companies typically leave out of purpose-built backpacks. Ice axe straps, well-placed zippered compartments, light but solid straps for extra gear, helmet or jacket net- it’s all there. It rides perfectly and I can barely tell I’ve got something on my back. There’s easily enough room for your wing, helmet, reserve, extra clothing and a small climbing rack. Turn it inside out and you’ve got a harness, speed bar and an optional 250 gram self-inflating air bag! I have opted for the 1.4 kg front mount octagon reserve as well which at 1.4 kg has a remarkable decent rate of only 4.9m/sec.
And now lets get to the good stuff. Ready to launch? Groundhandling with the Skin 2 P is as easy as it gets. It’s less than half the weight of a normal light-weight paraglider so just blow on it a little bit and it’s overhead. It immediately feels just like you’re used to, but everything is easier. Responsive and silly light just makes it all a deliciously fun toy. Now granted I launched late in the day into perfectly smooth air so this isn’t mid-day thermal tested but once I was airborne I was all smiles. It didn’t feel weird at all and the glide seemed much, much better than I anticipated. A terrific new bit of gear to add to my kit and makes a lot of big lines I’ve been eyeing over the years here in Idahome possible.
I’m supporting Ben Abruzzo in this year’s X-Pyr race across Spain in a little X-Alps role reversal. We can’t team-fly in the race, but my plan to get back to the van and get into chase mode when Ben is flying is to pack this super-light kit on the days where it’s pretty calm and I just need to get down and fly the Klimber P and my light-weight X-Alps pod harness for the days that are rowdy or I need more performance.
Summary- if light and safe is what you want in a compact, light and well-thought-out package, this is really sweet kit!