George Dewey

Crewsaver Offshore vs Pro PFDs

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Does anyone have an experience with the Crewsaver life jackets? For the price, at first look, they look fairly competitive against the Spinlock Deckvest 5D. There is the "Pro" and "Offshore" and I'm trying to figure out the difference. Any experience or thoughts on these?

https://crewsaver.com/us/catalogue/recreational/personal-flotation/

 

 

 

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I have the pro version and it is the most comfortable lifejacket I ever had. Before buying I tested lots of different models for comfort and this one came a close second to a secumar which was three times the price. It also got very good reviews. I chose the pro over the os mainly because of the closing mechanism which I think is easier to use on the pro. The one on the offshore requires a little bit of extra length around your hip as it cannot be operated under tension.

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9 hours ago, neuronz said:

I have the pro version and it is the most comfortable lifejacket I ever had. Before buying I tested lots of different models for comfort and this one came a close second to a secumar which was three times the price. It also got very good reviews. I chose the pro over the os mainly because of the closing mechanism which I think is easier to use on the pro. The one on the offshore requires a little bit of extra length around your hip as it cannot be operated under tension.

Thanks thats very helpful. Besides the closing mechanism is are there any other differences between the pro and offshore? The Crewsaver website has contradictory information. Also, did you get the hammer or automatic inflator? 

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I also have the the pro, for me it was more comfortable than the spinlock. I found it put less pressure on the back of my neck but still fit securely. Like you I could not get good info off the website and ended up ordering the pro as it was available in the US and the only model available to try at the local store. I think it is has a more secure harness attachment system and larger straps, but confirm that if important to you. Now with two years of use I am still happy with it.

One issue that bothers me with all these manufactures is they show their PFDs without crotch straps on, but most need them to work properly. The straps on the Crewsaver are not really removable, not that I would anyway.

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3 hours ago, George Dewey said:

Thanks thats very helpful. Besides the closing mechanism is are there any other differences between the pro and offshore? The Crewsaver website has contradictory information. Also, did you get the hammer or automatic inflator? 

I don't know of any other difference. The details may also have changed since I bought mine.

I have to second that it feels more comfortable than the spinlock. Furthermore, I like being able to easily adjust and release the waist straps while wearing the lifejacket.

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3 hours ago, steele said:

One issue that bothers me with all these manufactures is they show their PFDs without crotch straps on, but most need them to work properly. The straps on the Crewsaver are not really removable, not that I would anyway.

Just to confirm, do the crewsavers have crotch straps?

What bugs me even more is that most inflatable pfds (WestMarine, Mustang, Revere, SOS...) in the US do not have crotch straps, even as an option. Unless you go to the very high end (Spinlock Deckvest, etc), and even there it’s hard to know which have the straps vs don’t, unless you dig deep into the product details. 

Everything I have read suggests crotch straps are a must, so it’s a bummer they are hard to find integrated into US models. Is it because they are not USCG approved/required?

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3 hours ago, galacticair said:

Just to confirm, do the crewsavers have crotch straps?

What bugs me even more is that most inflatable pfds (WestMarine, Mustang, Revere, SOS...) in the US do not have crotch straps, even as an option. Unless you go to the very high end (Spinlock Deckvest, etc), and even there it’s hard to know which have the straps vs don’t, unless you dig deep into the product details. 

Everything I have read suggests crotch straps are a must, so it’s a bummer they are hard to find integrated into US models. Is it because they are not USCG approved/required?

I don't think you can find ANY Spinlock inflatable PFDs without crotch or thigh straps.  Mustang sells optional crotch straps for their PFD's and most other brands do as well

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I have read that USCG does not require crotch straps because doing so would reduce PFD use even more than the already low rate. They are choosing to accept a less safe product rather than have boaters use none at all. This is of course is not a unique situation. If we would put up with 4 point harnesses in cars they would not need 6 airbags, but most of us would not find that acceptable. 

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I just spoke with a guy at Crewsaver who is a regional sales manager, great guy who spent a lot of time discussing a tiny purchase with me.

Regarding the Pro vs the Offshore, they are the same except for the way they buckle. Both models have dual crotch straps, harness, automatic and manual inflation, light, whistle, spray hood and 190N of buoyancy. Both models are available with the hydrostatic or automatic inflator (the hydrostatic 'Hammar" requires about 4 inches of immersion to fire). I asked how sensitive the automatic is to spray and rain and he told me in the past few years they have improved it greatly and its not very sensitive at all. In the past, exposure to humidity over time would cause the pellet to dissolve and fire it off when it should not.

The part numbers are:

9115BKAP       ErgoFit Pro with automatic inflator, 190N buoyancy 

9115BKHP       ErgoFit Pro with hammar inflator, 190N buoyancy 

9125BKAP       ErgoFit Offshore with automatic inflator, 190N buoyancy 

9125BKHP       ErgoFit Offshore with hammar inflator, 190N buoyancy 

9135BKHP       ErgoFit Ocean with hammar inflator, 290N buoyancy 

9145BKHP       ErgoFit Extreme with hammar inflator, 290N buoyancy 

 

I'm still looking for the best pricing, but from what I have seen so far these are priced much more nicely than Spinlock Deckvest 5D.

 

 

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We use the 9115BKHP for night and rougher conditions, and the much lighter 180N 9025BKA (which comes with a single crotch strap) at all other times.

Wetsuit Outlet (aka Watersports Outlet in the US) did ask me if I was aware that the 9115BKHP was not approved by USCG, so not sure if that may be an issue for some.

WO shipping costs form the UK to my Florida-based freight forwarder were very reasonable, so don't feel restricted to using the US store, BTW. (This is not intended to be an ad - I'm just a satisfied customer of theirs for a number of reasons.)

No unexpected inflations from either during the year we have had them, but we have not tested them either. I just checked the cylinders were properly fitted.

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1 hour ago, seabell said:

We use the 9115BKHP for night and rougher conditions, and the much lighter 180N 9025BKA (which comes with a single crotch strap) at all other times.

Wetsuit Outlet (aka Watersports Outlet in the US) did ask me if I was aware that the 9115BKHP was not approved by USCG, so not sure if that may be an issue for some.

WO shipping costs form the UK to my Florida-based freight forwarder were very reasonable, so don't feel restricted to using the US store, BTW. (This is not intended to be an ad - I'm just a satisfied customer of theirs for a number of reasons.)

No unexpected inflations from either during the year we have had them, but we have not tested them either. I just checked the cylinders were properly fitted.

I just ordered from WO a few days ago, and I'm expecting my package today. I ordered a pair of 9135BKHP vests, because the price difference from the 9125BKHP was small enough to make it an (almost) no brainer. Their pricing is extremely reasonable and shipping to the US is free and takes just a few days. They should arrive any minute and I'll post an update later.

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The Crewsaver models look good, thanks everyone for the information. Very timely for me.

Does anyone know if they can convert to manual-inflation only?  (the spinlocks have a small kit for this, basically removes the automatic inflator and replaces with a small plug). I sail multihulls and don’t want to risk auto inflation in capsize scenarios.  

I do think the Crewsaver site and specs info could be a whole lot better. Their model nomenclature is basically impossible to understand, and it’s rarely clear how features differ (@George Dewey: you give the best description i’ve seen, and that’s after spending a fair bit of time researching the models online). 

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26 minutes ago, galacticair said:

The Crewsaver models look good, thanks everyone for the information. Very timely for me.

Does anyone know if they can convert to manual-inflation only?  (the spinlocks have a small kit for this, basically removes the automatic inflator and replaces with a small plug). I sail multihulls and don’t want to risk auto inflation in capsize scenarios.  

I do think the Crewsaver site and specs info could be a whole lot better. Their model nomenclature is basically impossible to understand, and it’s rarely clear how features differ (@George Dewey: you give the best description i’ve seen, and that’s after spending a fair bit of time researching the models online). 

Saying that the Crewsaver website could be a whole lot better is certainly being polite. As I posted prior, I was so frustrated with it that I called Crewsaver in the US and ended up speaking with one of the regional sales reps, who was very knowledgeable and very willing to help me. I just sent him a note asking if the automatic can be converted to manual only and I'll let you know what he says. My guess is yes, because the inflator looks just like the one used in the Deckvest, although I don't know for sure its the same one. But they sure do look alike.

My pair of ErgoFit 290N OC (Ocean) vests arrived today, just a few days after I placed the order from WO in the UK. They came via UPS International Saver. These PFDs are heavier than I expected, but they are not unreasonably heavy. They seem very sturdy. It was easy to put one on and tighten the webbing around my waist. Just tug on it and it tightens. Pulling the orange tabs released the webbing easily so I could get it off. The buckle in the front is metal and seems very sturdy. The 190N Pro model has a pair of plastic buckles. I think I prefer the metal one that the offshore, ocean and extreme have. The only thing I have not figured out yet is how to wrap up the extra webbing once I pull it tight. There are elastic loops to hold it, but its not obvious how to run the webbing through them and it seems like I would need a helper to reach them.

I opened one up and everything that was supposed to be in there was in there. That includes the spray hood, light and whistle. Of course the Hammar inflator and the large CO2 cylinder (the 190N models use a smaller cylinder). It was easy to burst open and easy to zip back up. I didn't orally inflate it. I also noticed that it has an external pocket for a safety knife. The pocket zips closed and has a short, elastic lanyard inside it at the top. I think the 190N Offshore also has this, and I know the Pro does not. I don't know exactly the differences between the Ocean and Extreme, although both are available only with 290N buoyancy and the Hammar inflator (not the automatic). 

I paid $US 275 each for these delivered (free shipping) and I'm pretty happy with them. As soon as I figure out about tucking in the webbing I'll probably be very happy. Pricing from WO on the 9125BKHP (ErgoFit 190N Offshore with Hammar inflator, hood, light and harness) is $US 215. The 9115BKAP (ErgoFit Pro with automatic inflator, 190N buoyancy) is just $US 180. The only trick is that these are not on their US website. They told me the reason for this is that they are not USCG approved (I explained we can still use them in the US). So to order, go to the UK website, find it, switch to the US website and then add it to your cart.  They have the rearm kits as well. 

Finally, after I ordered these I found out that Vella Sailing Supply in Texas recently started to sell these but don't have them on their website yet. I didn't get pricing.

 

 

 

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On 8/11/2018 at 3:27 AM, galacticair said:

Does anyone know if they can convert to manual-inflation only?  (the spinlocks have a small kit for this, basically removes the automatic inflator and replaces with a small plug). I sail multihulls and don’t want to risk auto inflation in capsize scenarios.   

Looks like this is not doable. The guy I emailed responded and suggested other Crewsaver gear. 

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Why on earth does a company with less than 100 products need a model number like 9125BKHP? Eight alpha-numeric characters has 2,821,109,907,456 combination - nearly 600 unique model numbers for every person on the planet.

 

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On 8/13/2018 at 12:56 PM, George Dewey said:

Looks like this is not doable. The guy I emailed responded and suggested other Crewsaver gear. 

Thank you for checking.  From what I looked at, all their manual stuff is more inshore/coastal, nowhere near the same full specs of their 190N Offshore models.  Bummer.  

I like the idea of a good Hammar inflator, but I still don’t believe in it during a multihull capsize - once you’re in the water you want to be able to move away quick before a multi turtles, not being hobbled by a large inflated pfd...

Back to browsing Spinlock deckvests I guess.

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Yup I see your point. If I had an automatic I would just try the conversion kit from Spinlock. At least in the pictures and videos I have seen it looks like the inflators are very similar. Good luck, I hope you find what you need.

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On 8/10/2018 at 8:05 PM, seabell said:

We use the 9115BKHP for night and rougher conditions, and the much lighter 180N 9025BKA (which comes with a single crotch strap) at all other times.

Hi, since I'm wondering exactly between those two models - can you please share what is their weight? I was not able to find that information online and don't have shop nearby which stock them :/

 

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On 8/11/2018 at 8:27 AM, galacticair said:

The Crewsaver models look good, thanks everyone for the information. Very timely for me.

Does anyone know if they can convert to manual-inflation only?  (the spinlocks have a small kit for this, basically removes the automatic inflator and replaces with a small plug). I sail multihulls and don’t want to risk auto inflation in capsize scenarios.  

I do think the Crewsaver site and specs info could be a whole lot better. Their model nomenclature is basically impossible to understand, and it’s rarely clear how features differ (@George Dewey: you give the best description i’ve seen, and that’s after spending a fair bit of time researching the models online). 

I think you'll find there are only three auto inflators in common use.  My crewsavers have the UML cartridge. To convert to manual you remove the auto part (black plastic with an expiry date printed on it) and replace with a plastic cap. 

 If you have hammar auto inflators then there's a different manual conversion  system that's widely available. 

 The parts are not specific to the lifejacket maker but to the release mechanism maker. 

Cheers,

               W.

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Just got the  Ergofit 190 Pro at West Marine. On sale about $260. You can find cheaper online. Most comfortable inflatable PFD I have ever worn. Tried the Mustang earlier today and the Spinlock last week and the Crewsaver just felt best around the neck. 

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General question, is a Hammer inflation lifejacket a common choice? and are the re-arming kits universal between brands?

Thanks

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9 hours ago, JohnCutter said:

General question, is a Hammer inflation lifejacket a common choice? and are the re-arming kits universal between brands?

Thanks

I don't know what's a "common" choice but the Hammar inflators are a bit different than the "automatic" inflators. There are several different types of automatic but I think the Hammar is all the same. The Hammar requires about 4 inches of immersion before it will trigger, and also has cord to pull for manual inflation. The reason people might choose the Hammar over the automatic is because the automatics, at least in the past, had a tendency to inflate after prolonged exposure to humidity or extremely wet conditions, like rain or lots of spray. A regional sales manager for CrewSaver told me that the automatics have improved considerably in the past few years. All the inflators should be inspected annually, and the automatics have a little pill or capsule of some type that has an expiration date. Its easy to buy and replace, but it should be done. 

 

As for rearming kits, they are not universal but as someone said, there are not many to choose from.

 

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As I mentioned earlier, I bought a pair of 9135BKHP (ErgoFit Ocean with hammar inflator, 290N buoyancy), one for myself and one for my girlfriend. As it turns out these come in one size and we could not make the straps tight enough to fit her snugly. She is pretty small. It still has the crotch straps but if it does not fit snugly its probably not going to be fun having it bounce around. 

I can send it back to the UK but if anyone wants it I'll sent it to you for the $270 (delivered) I paid for it. 

As for mine, I'm very happy with it. Its very comfortable and easy to wear. 

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I think most if not all inflatable lifejacket manufacturers buy the inflator parts from a inflator manufacturer.  The lifejacket manufacturers package and sell the re-arm and manual modification kits, I am not sure if any inflator manufacturers sell them retail.

 http://www.spinlock.co.uk/en/deckware/lifejacket-inflation-systems-explained

http://www.halkeyroberts.com/products/inflation/manualautomatic-inflators-new.aspx

https://www.uml.co.uk/products.html

https://www.cmhammar.com/products/personal-safety-mob/

Edited by schessor
added links

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6 hours ago, schessor said:

I think most if not all inflatable lifejacket manufacturers buy the inflator parts from a inflator manufacturer.  The lifejacket manufacturers package and sell the re-arm and manual modification kits, I am not sure if any inflator manufacturers sell them retail.

 http://www.spinlock.co.uk/en/deckware/lifejacket-inflation-systems-explained

http://www.halkeyroberts.com/products/inflation/manualautomatic-inflators-new.aspx

https://www.uml.co.uk/products.html

https://www.cmhammar.com/products/personal-safety-mob/

ok thanks for that. So basically 'Hammer' is a brand in itself.. and thus lifejackets with 'hammer' inflators buy their bits from the same place. 

My question was targeted around easily and quickly getting re-arming kits once lifejacket is used. I am looking at a Crewsaver lifejacket with hammer inflation, but as far as i am aware they are not sold locally. so if i do use the lifejacket, i am wondering whether i can then go to the local shop and buy say a Spinlock Hammer inflator and install that on my Crewsaver lifejacket and thus not having to order it in.

Thanks.

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1 hour ago, JohnCutter said:

ok thanks for that. So basically 'Hammer' is a brand in itself.. and thus lifejackets with 'hammer' inflators buy their bits from the same place. 

My question was targeted around easily and quickly getting re-arming kits once lifejacket is used. I am looking at a Crewsaver lifejacket with hammer inflation, but as far as i am aware they are not sold locally. so if i do use the lifejacket, i am wondering whether i can then go to the local shop and buy say a Spinlock Hammer inflator and install that on my Crewsaver lifejacket and thus not having to order it in.

Thanks.

I don't know for sure but I would bet not. However, if you're doing an offshore race, you'll want to have a spare inflator with you. If you go overboard on day 2 you'll need a working PFD for the rest of the race. Some racing rules actually require at least one spare inflator for each type of PFD in use on board. So... Just order a spare inflator when you order your PFD. I ordered my stuff from WO in the UK and had it in Rhode Island two days later.

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1 hour ago, JohnCutter said:

ok thanks for that. So basically 'Hammer' is a brand in itself.. and thus lifejackets with 'hammer' inflators buy their bits from the same place. 

My question was targeted around easily and quickly getting re-arming kits once lifejacket is used. I am looking at a Crewsaver lifejacket with hammer inflation, but as far as i am aware they are not sold locally. so if i do use the lifejacket, i am wondering whether i can then go to the local shop and buy say a Spinlock Hammer inflator and install that on my Crewsaver lifejacket and thus not having to order it in.

Thanks.

Yes - but - the manual handle might be different for the different brands - but you should be able to transfer the handle from your old inflator.

 

There is also a price difference depending what "branded" version of the re-arm kit you buy.  Traditionally the Mustang brand is the cheapest in the US

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On 8/24/2018 at 12:16 AM, Rain said:

Hi, since I'm wondering exactly between those two models - can you please share what is their weight? I was not able to find that information online and don't have shop nearby which stock them :/

 

Since no one reply I'll try to help the next one at least :)

I bought both of them for me and a friend. The 9115BKHP seems a lot more "professional" lets say. But this leads to weight disadvantage -> 1.8kg vs 0.8kg for the 9025BKA.

Those weights are +- 100 grams due to the scale we use for weighting them up.

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On 8/11/2018 at 4:25 AM, George Dewey said:

Pricing from WO on the 9125BKHP (ErgoFit 190N Offshore with Hammar inflator, hood, light and harness) is $US 215. The 9115BKAP (ErgoFit Pro with automatic inflator, 190N buoyancy) is just $US 180. The only trick is that these are not on their US website. They told me the reason for this is that they are not USCG approved (I explained we can still use them in the US). So to order, go to the UK website, find it, switch to the US website and then add it to your cart.  They have the rearm kits as well. 

Finally, after I ordered these I found out that Vella Sailing Supply in Texas recently started to sell these but don't have them on their website yet. I didn't get pricing.

Question - Does anyone who has a 190N/290N vest also have a 180N/165N vest and care to compare the comfort?  I know weight is an obvious differentiation, but I keep hearing how comfortable the 190/290 is with it's design around the neck and such.  

This thread has been a wealth of information for understanding the models giving a few store tips on buying Crewsaver lifejackets.  I wanted to add my own contribution to build on George's post.  George mentions it further up in the thread, but WO = wetsuitoutlet.co.uk.  They have shopping sites (identical in design) for multiple countries, including the US site with a different web address (Watersports Outlet).  Just click the flag at the top right to change between the countries.  

My contribution to this thread is some hints on how to save money on their website.

1.  Make an account on their UK website (it works on all of them btw).  Enter your address/etc.  While you can use George's trick up above to take the life jackets on their UK website to their US website - it's likely going to be cheaper to keep it in pounds (assuming you don't have an obnoxious credit card).  By having a foreign (ie US or non-vat) address, it removes the VAT when you're logged into the UK site.  This takes the price (current exchange rate) from 180 pounds down to 150 pounds - or roughly $228 to $190.  Using George's trick, the US website's price is $215.  Note, the US website did not display sales tax when I went to test an order, so it is not shown below.

2. How to get Free Shipping.  On the US site, it's $9.95 to ship 1 vest, free shipping is at $250+.  On the UK site, shipping to the US is around 20 pounds (or about $25.32 today) - you get free shipping at 200 pounds.  

3.  The site has, what appears to be a static promo that pops up, where if you put in your email, they'll send you an offer for 10% of your 1st order off your 2nd order.  You also need to make an account.  I believe I've seen it on the US site as well as the UK site.  This is handy for people who may be ordering multiple vests & other products.  

So, using the above 3 points, you can get some of the cheapest Crewsaver 190/290 vests in the US that I've seen.  

Examples -

2x 190N ocean hammars from US site = $430+free shipping

2x from UK site = 300 pounds +free shipping = $380 at current exchange = $50 savings

Additionally, if you have a large enough order, you can split it up to take advantage of #3, which nets at least a 5% discount overall if you hit the free shipping mark.  On both sites that's worth at least $25 when using the free shipping minimums for each order.  You can play with the math to figure out how much you net - in some cases it's still cheaper overall to split the order even if you don't trigger free shipping on order #2.  

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On 8/11/2018 at 4:25 AM, George Dewey said:

Finally, after I ordered these I found out that Vella Sailing Supply in Texas recently started to sell these but don't have them on their website yet. I didn't get pricing.

I emailed Vela (velasailingsupply.com) to inquire about prices.  As of 12/24/18, The ErgoFit 190N Pro Auto Hammar is a special order item for $355.  The re-arm (SRV 45-10007) is $29, and the Crewfit Pro with Harness is $169 (re-arm is also $29).  If that gives you an idea on prices.  Basically, re-arm looks pretty cheap vs. Wetsuit, jacket looks more expensive on the 190N.  

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On 12/22/2018 at 8:50 AM, brajalle said:

My contribution to this thread is some hints on how to save money on their website.

That's great info! I'll probably be buying a PFD for the GF soon, I'll definitely try this out.

In other news on the PFDs, I had ordered two ErgoFit 290N Ocean PFDs, one for myself and one for the girl. I had to send hers back. Even with her foul weather gear on, she was too slim and the PFD could not be fastened even snugly around her torso. Perhaps a 190N would work but I hate to give up the extra buoyancy.

SurviveTec (Crewsaver) has announced a refresh of the ErgoFit line due out in March of 2019. They claim a number of improvements, but the one they talk about most is an improved sea hood. 

A week ago I took the Safety at Sea hands on (anyone need crew for an ocean race???) and that was fun. A good part of it was getting all dressed up in foulies and PFD, with tether, and jumping in a pool. Then we had to climb into a life raft, huddle in a group, fun stuff like that. Anyhow, at the deep end I grabbed my nose and stepped in. Under I went, then floated up quickly. The PFD didn't deploy. There I was, treading water wondering why it didn't deploy for a bit. I then went to manually deploy and could not immediately find the handle. Just as I found it the Hammar finally let go and the PFD inflated quickly. I don't know for sure how long it took to deploy, could have been well over a minute though. 

As soon as it deployed it did exactly what it was supposed to do: Push my head back and up. So... To get into the life raft I had to fight the PFD to get vertical and lean forward to grab it. It was actually quite difficult, perhaps because 290N is a LOT of bladder. I did get in with the assistance of the first guy to get in. When he tried to pull me in, he grabbed the PFD but not by the lifting straps. These straps are held in place nicely by plastic snaps but they are not marked "lift here" like others and it's not obvious that they are there or what they are for. Anyhow, after I was in he and I pulled the other 5 students out of the water and into the raft. I did that with the bladder still fully inflated and it did not get in the way. 

Next, we were out of the raft and practicing linking up in a circle. I decided to try to deploy the hood. I couldn't figure it out, since it was behind me so I couldn't see it and could barely reach it. After I got out, I could see why. Part of the straps were velcro-ed together. If I had known I could have felt around and undid the velcro. On the pool deck I was able to deploy the hood easily once I knew how it worked.

The whistle was on the oral inflation tube, and the light was nearby. The light has a wire that runs from it to behind your head. The end of the wire has a push button to manually toggle it on or off and the two little metal things to sense water. Unless you let the jacket push you back the light does not activate because your neck is not in the water. The switch is easy to find if you reach back. 

Another thing to mention is that when it deployed, the zipper came apart well. Other people with velcro holding the PFD together found that half would deploy but the velcro on the other half didn't open and things like that. I suppose it's possible that the zipper on the ErgoFit might not open but I doubt it. Still, be prepared to help it if needed.

So, lessons learned:

1 - Making the manual inflation handle the same color as the jacket is a very bad idea. It should be bright red, not carbon grey. I'll probably put some waterproof colored tape on mine.

2 - Learn how to deploy the hood before you're overboard in big waves.   

3 - Maybe mark the lifting straps somehow.

4 - The bladder is big, so maybe deflate it a bit before trying to get into the life raft. You can always blow it back up.

5 - Learn to turn the light on manually.

After this part of the class I just put it into a plastic trash bag and tossed it in my car. When I got home I rinsed it off and let it dry thoroughly. It was easy to repack. At class, some people asked if there is a way to suck air out of it to make sure it all comes out. Not necessary. I found a video of how to repack (link below), and it is also explained in the instructions. First, squeeze as much air out as you can. Then start to repack from the side with the gas canister and as you fold the bladder the air will be squeezed along toward the other side. As you do, just let the air out the inflation tube. It takes a few minutes to repack but I had no trouble. It was handy that the creases from the folds were still pretty visible so I knew where and which way to fold it.

I discovered that I had ordered the wrong rearm kit when I bought it, and it took a while, (and a call to SurviveTec) to get the right part number. It is11037 with a 60g canister. That's just for the 290N of course, the smaller ones need a different kit. There is a two digit prefix, but I forget what it is. SurviveTec recently changed that prefix, but as long as the part number ends in 11037 you'll get the right kit.

Now the part that really hurt. WaterSports Outlet wouldn't sell me the rearm kit because it's now "hazardous material" for shipping (although maybe with the tricks above I can get them to). Vella special ordered it for me, $95 delivered OUCH!!!!! I later found it on Amazon for a few bucks less, but wow, that's extremely pricey. It has not arrived yet, so after it does I'll rearm and update this message.

So that's my long winded ErgoFit review. I would strongly urge people who have one to unpack it, out it on and manually inflate it (through the tube, not the inflator). Make sure you can get the hood deployed, the light on and find the lifting straps.  I do still like it, but it could be better. Mostly, by making the hood easier to deploy, marking the lifting straps and changing the color of that handle. I'm confident that if I needed it to, it would save my life at sea.

 

 

 

 

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