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