Gear

Mus­tang Sur­vival may have cre­ated the first PFD that boaters will ac­tu­ally want to wear.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Light­weight, low-pro­file and sleek, this new PFD could be a lifevest boaters will ac­tu­ally want to wear.

First, let me get some­thing off my chest: I don’t usu­ally wear a per­sonal flota­tion de­vice (PFD) when boat­ing. My lack of pre­pared­ness is per­haps even more egre­gious when you con­sider the fact that I’ve read all the sur­vival sto­ries: the man-over­board, death-de­fy­ing tales of fish­er­men cling­ing to boots or buoys for days be­fore res­cue. Hell, I’ve been to sur­vival school; I know why ex­perts rec­om­mend don­ning a life vest be­fore get­ting on a boat. I can even quote a re­cent statis­tic from the Coast Guard: 83 per­cent of drown­ing vic­tims per­ished, in part, be­cause they were not wear­ing a life jacket.

But here’s the thing. You and I both know that, un­for­tu­nately, none of those things will re­cal­i­brate the risk:re­ward ra­tio when it comes to wear­ing a PFD. Let’s face it, many of them are bulky and cum­ber­some, and they can hin­der your dex­ter­ity, par­tic­u­larly when you’re at the helm or han­dling lines. There are a few par­ents I know who re­quire their chil­dren to wear life vests, only to dis­re­gard them for their own safety. Would a well-de­signed, mul­ti­func­tional PFD change their mind?

If one can, it’s the new Khimera 22 Hy­brid ($200). The “hy­brid” in the name stands for its dual buoy­ancy: One part is solid foam, the other a man­ual pull-cord in­fla­tor—with a man­ual in­fla­tion tube added for good mea­sure in case the CO2 catridge fails. The Khimera is man­u­fac­tured by Mus­tang Sur­vival, a no-non­sense, well-trusted sup­plier of life­sav­ing prod­ucts that have been used by recre­ational and com­mer­cial crews for over 50 years. Talk about putting your mind at ease.

I tested one dur­ing a re­cent cruise to Cum­ber­land Is­land, Ge­or­gia. I wanted to see if it could pro­vide that nec­es­sary safety el­e­ment while si­mul­ta­ne­ously al­low­ing me to for­get I was wear­ing it.

Light­weight with a low-pro­file de­sign that’s form­fit­ting, the Khimera was com­fort­able and gave me a wide range of mo­tion when toss­ing lines or mov­ing about the cock­pit. Avail­able in both blue and black, it’s also one of the more stylish PFDs I’ve worn. That’s a fact that may sound silly at first, but the cool fac­tor is a deadly se­ri­ous one to over­come; and a big rea­son, I as­sume, why many boaters don’t wear them in the first place.

With re­flec­tive straps and a front pocket that can fit a per­sonal lo­ca­tor bea­con, this is a PFD that de­serves at­ten­tion. Whether it will be worn by fam­ily mem­bers who are 16 and older is some­thing only you can an­swer.

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