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Old 14 October 2006, 03:14   #1
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Best or Worst Lifejackets?

Which ones are good,which ones are great, and which ones are just bl***y rubbish?
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Old 14 October 2006, 07:56   #2
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It's an interesting question: because how many people know until it comes to the crunch (or splash) whether their lifejacket is any good or not? I wouldn't have a clue...

I bought a set of four of these (the red/reflex 150N Hammar ones second down from the top) for my boat recently but I really don't know if they are any good or not, they were Hammar ones which is what I wanted, and at the time there was a special offer on them so they were cheaper than most of a similar spec
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Old 14 October 2006, 08:07   #3
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Like most things in life, you gets what you pays for.

A cheap lifejacket will probably work OK, but will stand up less well to the rigours of time than a better made one. Areas that usually go first are internal folds, the seal around the CO2 device, and stitching.

Crewsaver jackets are about the best you'll get, as you're getting the benefit of years of R&D from a specialist rather than someone cheaper in the far east copying a well known design.

Care of the jacket once you've got it is critical - keep it washed after use, inspect regularly, and look after it!
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Old 14 October 2006, 16:07   #4
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As havener says, it depends on what you want. There are only three release mechanisms - United Moulders (manual & auto) Hakley Roberts (manual & auto) and Hammar. These are used by pretty well all manufacturers. The gas cylinders are universal - it's the release clips that vary (even within UM and HR types)

If you want an auto, the Hammar mechanism is the best (but most expensive) as it works on hydorstatic pressure rather than just getting wet which UM and HR do. This means it won't go off with just heavy spray, whereas there is a chance that the other two might. Obviously this isn't a problem if you want a manual.

There's also different constructions. Some have an all-in-one outer cover and air bladder whereas others have a double layer construction so that the bladder is separate from the cover. The latter is likely to be more expensive and also more bulky.

I don't believe that there is a rubbish lifejacket on the market from a UK supplier simply because they would not be that stupid and their product liability insurance would be non-existent. The relevant standard for 150N lifejackets is EN396 - don't touch it if this is not in evidence.

The biggest cause of failure, again as havener says, is lack of care. CO2 bottles may corrode/leak over time, get-wet auto mechanisms will fail if kept in damp conditions (although you do still have manual override). I have heard of them going off just by being dropped.

A lot of people simply don't pull apart the velcro and take a look inside - they regard it as a 'sealed unit'. But that's exactly where you should be looking to make sure all is well! If you want to check for leaks, you can easily use the oral inflation tube to inflate/deflate. I'd suggest using a low-pressure pump to avoid getting rot-inducing 'gob' insiide!

Take a look at this for some guidance Baltic Lifejackets Advice. May vary for your particular model.

So, there's no reason why a regularly serviced and carefully stored lifejacket shouldn't deploy correctly.

As to the merits of various manufacturers, I couldn't possibly comment . . .
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Old 14 October 2006, 17:37   #5
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I got a couple of Seago 150N auto with Harness last year. They have been great - really comfortable and have not shown any signs of wear. They do have a 3 year warranty but only if you send them away every year to get serviced (which is prob a a good thing to do anyway!).

I seem to recall they came up pretty well in a boating magazine test - may have been YM or PBO, I can't remember.... I believe they are now 175N instead of 150.

Hard to tell what any lifejacket is really like unless it's inflated I guess!

I'm also a crewsaver fan and have had many crewsaver lifejackets / boyancy aids in the past.

It's really a personal choice, and as other folks have said - looking after an auto jacket is important!!
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Old 15 October 2006, 03:08   #6
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I've got a couple of these and you definitely get what you pay for. They are a bit of a pain to put on and the velcro quality isn't great.
They are comfortable once on though and they work.They are small enough also that they don't get in the way. I'll probably replace them next year.

I wasn't going to buy auto gas ones-didn't have enough cash at the time for hammar actuators and anyone who saw how wet we got at Yarmouth will understand why I don't want normal ones.
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Old 15 October 2006, 04:37   #7
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I've got a couple of auto ones from Compass which seem really great value at about £35. They're really easy to put on, comfortable to wear and they look OK too (as you can get them in blue).

I splashed out at the Boat-show and bought my self a Crewsaver 275 "plus" (thats the one with the hood and light) - same as the ones the RNLI use. This is totally over-kill for what I'm likely to be doing but as someone said before they are extremly well-made. This one also has the crotch straps which seem like a good idea.
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Old 15 October 2006, 04:46   #8
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Very valid point about sprayhoods - a number of deaths at sea have been from people wearing lifejackets, correctly fitted and inflated, where spray has "pooled" in front of the nose/mouth and caused secondary drowning. And for the same reason, ALWAYS wear a crotch strap. A lifejacket will not stop you drowning if the neck piece is around your ears!

Sprayhoods are cheap and effective, as are lights, BUT only if you know how to use them in an emergency. And that doesn't mean reading the instructions alone!

Be familiar with your lifejacket - it's your best friend at sea. Know how it works, and what it's capable of - a 150N jacket is fine if you wear a drysuit, but if you wear normal clothes and yachtie type overgear, go for 275N. It's amazing just how much weight wet clothes will add. A 150N with wet clothes will still keep you afloat, but a 275N will give you a much better posture in the water.

If you can afford it, go for a Crewsaver commercial rib jacket, similar to that used by RNLI inshore crews. You get all round bump protection, a mixture of inflated and inherant bouyancy, and a degree of thermal protection in the winter.
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Old 15 October 2006, 16:40   #9
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Posted this in March 2005, hopw it helps, might a bit out of date


Quote:
Hi
After attending a Sea Survival course in Falmouth I got some very good advice from the local RNLI Sea Safety officer.

This was in the form of a 12 page guide from "Sailing today" compiled by the Tim Bartlett.

Considerations such as additional buoyancy when wearing foul weather gear, spray hood, auto inflation, crouch straps etc were taken into account

In the interest of safety I am repeating the conclusion on testing 30 lifejackets, though I might get told off

"We think there is real cause for concern whether a 150N lifejacket are really adequate for use with foul weather clothing. Amid this gloomy picture, though, there are a few bright spots; the Plastimo's Cruiser 150 is one of them, its light weight very comfortable jacket at a sensible price making it a good basic buy, though narrowly beaten to our budget buy award by the Parmaris lite.

For not much more money Aladdinís Cave Ocean Passage Plus is stunning value, if money is no object Crewsaver Crewfit Plus is a very conventional top of the range jacket, while the SeaSafe Sea Explorer shows what can be achieved if you treat the EN standard as a guideline rather than as gospel. An honourable mention though has to go to Viking, My own personal pick would be the rather industrial looking Viking 1 SOLAS, itís not hugely expensive but itís got enough extra buoyancy to make all the difference between floating face down and face up"

I went for the Crewsaver Crewfit Plus buts itís rather pricy, however I hope that it will last for some time and I donít think you can put a price on safety.

Out of 25 automatic lifejackets two failed to inflate automaticlly, they did say that given most manufactures buy their trigger mechanisms from the same suppliers, it wouldnt be fair to name names.
Shaggy
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Old 15 October 2006, 16:43   #10
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Originally Posted by Shaggy View Post
Posted this in March 2005, hopw it helps, might a bit out of date




Shaggy
Shaggy,

I think he just about recommended every lifejacket. Sounded like a bit of Labour spin their.
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