I feel like it’s my birthday, I’ve had a package turn up with my new Crewsaver Ergofit Lifejacket, Ocean Safety PLB1 and a Standard Horizon HX870E Handheld DSC VHF.
I thought I would write a “first look” review on each and share it with you. I’ll start off with the lifejacket and I’ll review the other two over the next couple of weeks.
When it comes to safety, I don’t think you can skimp, I ride motorcycles and I wouldn’t ride in a £50 helmet, why would I want to wear a £50 lifejacket? I understand a £50 lifejacket is better then none and many people may not be able to afford a higher spec one. I also understand why people don’t want to wear a lifejacket, the philosophy of not falling overboard in the first place, the usual saying “wearing a lifejacket just increases the chances of your body being found”, but whilst there’s a chance, even a slim one I think we have take them and even create them.
I don’t want to be bobbing about in the pitch black sea, waves and spray breaking over me wishing I bought a better lifejacket instead of those Musto/other expensive waterproofs I don’t really need.
Crewsaver Ergofit 290N Extreme
I decided on the Crewsaver Ergofit over other brands as I liked the twin centre buckle fastening system, the traditional fit over the Spinlock and the overall design from probably the best known life jacket company out there. In reality, they’re made to standards so I can’t say one brand is better then another, it’s just personal preference.
When I first opened the Ergofit I was impressed with the quality of the product, there was one stray thread that just needed trimming (it wasn’t missed or loose just where it must have been a new reel). There’s a neat clear window to see the inflator status, two chunky, easy to use buckles, and two “soft loops” for a safety harness. The leg straps have neat little Velcro retainers to keep them out of the way (not that you wouldn’t use them). There’s a pocket with a key hook in it, I’ll probably keep my Gerber EZ-out safety knife in there on a lanyard. Inside the jacket there’s a spray hood and water activated light fitted as standard.
I decided to open it up and inflate the bladder, there’s a lot of bladder as you would expect with a 290N jacket. It’s folded and packed nicely but it does look a bit intense seeing it all in there and wondering if you’ll get it back the right way. The Ergofit is sold as “AIS compatible” so I knew it would fit the Mcmurdo S20 AIS beacon, It looks in pictures the S20 is mounted on the inflation tube and the PLB1 comes with a fitting kit to do the same. I tried this however it just wouldn’t work, I couldn’t get the zip closed with the PLB in place and I didn’t want to force anything or put to much pressure on the PLB in case it accidently activated it. In the end I slid the PLB1 flotation pouch over the waist buckle strap and fitted the small lanyard through the looped strap as a backup.
When it came to the inflator the 290N only comes with an automatic inflator, either Crewsavers own version, or the Hammar. I decided to go for the Hammar, pressure inflator to reduce false inflations by rain, spray or a wave into the cockpit, they both have a manual pull cord and a top-up tube. I was quite happy to have a automatic jacket as I’ll be doing some solo sails, I have some spare manual jackets if I feel I would be better suited to a manual jacket in a particular situation.
First thoughts on the Crewsaver, very happy, well made and top quality. I couldn’t think of another piece of kit I’ll be happy to spend £270 on apart from the PLB which cost me £180, I’ll do another “first thoughts” review on this next week.
Safe sailing guys…