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For kiteboarders and kitesurfers, one of the most critical pieces of equipment is your harness. 

Though beginners may overlook the importance of this gear, experienced riders know you don’t want to experience equipment failure on the open water and you want maximum control over your kite even when winds get gusty.

A kiteboarding harness isn’t a seatbelt or a leash, but a tool for transferring energy and pressure to promote balance and maximize your control. 

We’ll explore the role of kiteboarding harnesses and how they impact your ride in this article. 

In our Dakine Nitrous shorts review, we’ll highlight the strengths of this product as well as when a traditional seat harness might work best for your riding style and level of experience.

Harnesses are the key to kiteboarding

Kiteboarding is all about harnessing the power of the wind to propel you across the water. 

The kite isn’t the only thing doing the harnessing, though; the harness connecting you to your kite setup is just as important – if not more so!

A kiteboarding harness connects you to your kite bar. 

It transfers the pull of the kite from your hands to more evenly distribute this load to your body. 

This harness creates a key balance zone that promotes more control and helps you turn and steer your kite across the water.

Boardshorts vs. Seat Harnesses for kitesurfing

Kitesurfers can choose from three different harness types: seat harnesses, waist harnesses, and boardshort harnesses. 

There is no “best” harness, but each rider should try a few different models and options to find the most comfortable fit. 

Knowing the benefits of each can also help you pick the best harness, too.

Seat harnesses may have a more diaper-like feel, but these harnesses were the original kite harness style. 

What’s interesting is that even though these were the first kite harnesses, they are still favored by some of the most advanced kite riders today, often seen in both speed and long-distance races around the world. 

Advanced riders factor these because of their lower center of gravity. 

Due to their lower seat hook, beginners and those with back issues favor seat harnesses because of the way they fit around the hips.

Waist harnesses are favored by riders with a more trick-centered style. 

Sure, they look cooler and they’re more comfortable, but waist harnesses are designed to give riders a freer riding experience. 

That’s why waist harnesses are favored by performance riders whose style includes tricks and maneuvers.   

Beginners may prefer waist harnesses for the ease of swimming.  

The third harness option is the boardshort harness.  These harnesses offer maximum freedom of movement. 

They are a simple concept style of harness and feature a lower hook point to achieve a lower center of gravity.

Dakine Nitrous Shorts: Comfort, safety and performance

Dakine Nitrous HD are a boardshort harness that combines the comfort of a boardshort and the support of a seat harness. 

Integrating more than 25 years of research, development, and industry leading technology, the Nitrous HD is a high performance harness masked as casual boardshorts.

Nitrous HD comes in five different sizing options ranging from X-Small to X-Large. 

Each is crafted from lightweight quick-dry 4200 Nylon fabric. 

In terms of comfort Dakine included design features such as an adjustable waist buckle and zipper to ensure a more custom-feeling fit.  

Nitrous HD boardshorts offer riders a high degree of support.  This level of supports makes the Nitrous HD a popular choice for beginner and smaller statured riders. 

The inner support structure consists of a precurved P.E.B. 

The lumbar pad is made of a featherweight ES foam and molded to add key support without adding weight.

Each boardshort harness features an integrated handle and leash attachment. 

For lefties, the side leash attachment ring can be used on either the left or the right side. 

A key loop is safely hidden with a secure velcro pocket on the leg for quick, close access to keys or a hook knife, adding convenience to comfort. 

Riders also have the option to use the harness as a seat harness with a removable seat harness attachment.

Key features for serious riders

Because these shorts are designed with demanding kiteboarders and kitesurfers in mind, Dakine paid special attention to the details that determine durability. 

That’s why every critical seam throughout this boardshort harness is double stitched and reinforced.

This harness fits just like the other Dakine harnesses so riders with any experience using a Dakine harness will have no problem selecting the right size. 

This comfort-minded focus is also evident in the internal leg strap design, which is built-in and made with a quick dry 420D Nylon fabric design.

You won’t need to size up or down and you won’t need to buy a separate, larger boardshort harness for cooler weather because the Nitrous HD Shorts Harness features ladder locks along the side that provide two inches in adjustability to accommodate wetsuits beneath for cooling spring or fall riding.  

Riders will appreciate the unique 8-point load dispersion system integrated into the Nitrous HD shorts harness. 

This system ensures weight and pressure is evenly distributed throughout your body to minimize strain on any particular part or muscle group and prolong riding time before fatigue sets in. 

This also ensures that the kite picks you up more by your hips than traditional style waist harnesses.

What’s new with the 2020 Nitrous HD?

A 2020 facelift on these shorts involves new sizing to accommodate an option spreader bar. 

This harness, as with most all of the 2020 Dakine harnesses, is kite or windsurf spreader bar compatible, making this harness extremely versatile. 

Foil Borders will appreciate the Nitrous HD, too, because the spreader bar on this harness is lower, lowering the point of pull to give riders more throw, or de-power. 

All the 2020 Dakine harnesses are kite and windsurf interchangeable. 

Harnesses and bars are now sold separately, but sizing has been adjusted to accommodate the added versatility.

New size measurements are larger than previous models:

  • X-Small fits a waist size 28-30”
  • Small fits a waist size 30-32”
  • Medium fits a waist size 32-34”
  • Large fits a waist size 34-36”
  • X-Large fits a waist size 36-38”
  • XX-Large fits waist sizes 40-42”

On the 2020 versions of the Nitrous HD, the harness is without a spreader bar. 

This means that riders need to purchase a spreader bar separately but it allows riders to select either a kite or windsurf bar to extend this harness’s versatility across water sports. 

How does the Nitrous compare with Dakine’s other boardshort harness options?

Dakine’s lineup of harnesses features several shorts options, including the Vega, the Fusion, and the Vision. 

The 2020 Vision is designed specifically for women, while the Vega is the line’s minimalist harness with a low profile and fewer features.

Among Dakine’s 2020 harnesses, only the Fusion threatens to give the Nitrous HD a run for its money. 

The Fusion is a higher end harness and incorporates more support features such as memory foam pressure point relief zones. 

While the Nitrous features one power belt, the Nitrous affords more security and stability with an independent primary and a secondary powerbelt built in.

Dakine Nitrous Shorts Review: A confident warranty 

Dakine is confident that their 25 years experience and careful attention to comfort and durability have resulted in a line of top quality harnesses. 

The Nitrous board short harness comes with the company’s 2-year warranty, a guarantee against damage and destruction that affords your peace of mind. 

Board shorts harnesses tend to be less durable than traditional waist or seat harnesses, so this warranty is a significant expression of Dakine’s confidence in their quality, durability, and wearability.

If you’re  interested in a versatile harness that allows you the freedom for a maneuver and trick-centered riding style, the Nitrous HS may be a good harness for you. 

If you’re smaller or just newer to the windsurfing or kitesurfing world, this harness’s ease of use and ability to accommodate different spreader bar options make the Dakine Nitrous a great harness option.

Featured image credit: Shutterstock.com Image ID: 153818657 (NOTE: Image does not reflect product discussed in article)