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