Baltic iFloat

£120

Motorboat & Yachting - - Tried& Tested -

The wealth of on-board toys like stand-up pad­dle boards (SUPS), Se­abobs and kayaks have trans­formed the way we use our boats. Even I man­age to squeeze a cou­ple of kayaks along the side decks of my 22ft Kar­nic for ex­plor­ing the rock­ier cor­ners of Dorset’s Juras­sic Coast­line. But this has pre­sented an­other prob­lem when it comes to safety be­cause the au­to­matic life­jacket I wear on my boat feels like overkill on a kayak and would trig­ger every time I fell off an SUP – an all too fre­quent oc­cur­rence in my case!

This is the mar­ket which Baltic’s new ifloat is aimed at. Small enough to wear around your waist and dis­creet enough not to make you look like an in­com­pe­tent am­a­teur, it can eas­ily be put over your head and in­flated to pro­vide up to 150N of buoy­ancy in the un­likely event that you do get swept out to sea or sep­a­rated from your board/kayak.

I ‘vol­un­teered’ my nephew to try it out who con­firmed that in its packed form, it nei­ther im­pinged on his pad­dling or (far more im­por­tantly) his fash­ion sense. He needed a bit of help to ‘fall’ off his kayak but once in the water, he found it easy enough to un­fold and slip the blad­der over his head while the waist­band held it in place at the bot­tom. A pull cord in­flated it quickly and smoothly, cre­at­ing a sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able and se­cure fit round his neck. It didn’t look as se­cure or ro­bust as a proper life­jacket but it did keep him afloat with­out any need to swim, and sup­ported his head above water. Baltic in­sist it shouldn’t be seen or used as an al­ter­na­tive to a life­jacket but for kitesurfers, SUPS and even short trips ashore on a ten­der, it’s a lot bet­ter than noth­ing at all. Hugo Con­tact www.baltic.se

Web­bing waist strap keeps the ifloat tucked out of the way but holds it in place when in­flated

Even this 50N ifloat kept our tester’s head well clear of the water

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