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Recommend a flotation vest?

Windsurfing shop talk

by shmish » Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:59 pm

I was thinking about getting some type of flotation vest. I talked to one shop about the Neil Pryde high hook and their feedback was that even with a good fit, the shoulders would rise up to their ears when in the water. Maybe it was just their setup and how it fit with their harness. I know some people wear impact vests which also have some flotation. I’d like to hear whatever suggestions you have. Thanks.

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by ZeroR2 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:51 am

I have never heard of the vest coming up to the ears. The purpose of the hook is to keep it from rising. I don't use a flotation device, but that will change with foiling and now windsurfing in cold waters. All the kite/windsurfing flotation vest are only rated CE50. The minimum Type 3 approved coastguard is 70 (higher the better). It is better than nothing, but I wouldn't consider it a flotation device with such low ratings. Of course the lighter you are, the better the low rating will help you. Hope others will chime in with first hand experience.

That said, I think the Neil Pryde High Hook flotation vest is the best out there. There are no impact vest that have any ratings. It might also depend on what type of harness you wear.
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by Faceplant » Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:50 am

I have a pro motion vest. Fits great.
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by ZeroR2 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:18 am

Faceplant wrote:I have a pro motion vest. Fits great.

Based on the picture, you look great. But that isn't a flotation vest. Other factors are also important. If you want to have better flotation, don't be too lean. Get fat and don't have too much muscles. You will float better.
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by Slappy » Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:24 pm

ZeroR2 wrote:It is better than nothing, but I wouldn't consider it a flotation device with such low ratings

I wear a NP High Hook vest 80% of the time and I like it but it does tend to ride up when you are in the water (I do not use the hook attachment as I wear a seat harness, I've though about using a loop but I'm not sure I want something extra that might tangle down there).

I compensate by reefing it down quite tight and it's not a big deal, I wear the M-L one but I wish they made just a plain M version as the M-S version is too small for me (165 lbs).

I will say that it has more than enough flotation, I wouldn't go any floatier for kiting. Most of the time we are out there we have a ton of flotation from our wetsuit anyway.

I'm not sure I would use the High Hook with a waist harness though as I find that you either need to have the vest over the top of the harness a bit or it gets pushed up.

Before the High Hook I used to wear an earlier version of LF Supreme and it's very good with substantial flotation considering that it's more of an impact style vest.

I'm a big believer in flotation vests for kiting and wear them any time I'm kiting in deep water. The ability to be able to float and swim comfortably in rough seas without any use of your legs is a huge safety advantage for kitesurfing and both of these vests provide that for me.

You can see and example of the NP High Hook riding up at 6:45 of this vlog:
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by ZeroR2 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:10 pm

Thank you for the great information. I am thinking of getting the one from Promotion; I like their products. I just question their claims regarding the vest. They claim that their Kite Vest has 12-13 pounds of flotation. That is equivalent to 53.37-57.82 Newton, which is higher than the NP High Hook. The High Hook is CE approved for 50 Newton. I am proactive about this and reached out to them. Here is their response:

Thank you for your support of ProMotion Wetsuits.

Our kite vests were tested here at the shop by attaching weights to them
until they became submerged in fresh water. The numbers are approximate
and do vary with the size of the vest. The front zip kite vest and
rescue vest both use 25mm thick foam padding for buoyancy which is
thicker that most impact vests on the market but not as thick/bulky as a
typical Coast Guard approved PFD.

I don't believe that they are dishonest. But getting certified is a different animal than testing in house.

In the end, I trust users the most. If you are having issues with the NP vest coming up, I believe you. I am going with the Promotion Kite Vest. Also, keep in mind that a wet suit and harness will aid a bit with buoyancy. And the vest has Neoprene in core areas to help with keeping warm.

So, what is your experience with Promotions Kite Vest? Or would you go with NP High hook?
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by shmish » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:33 pm

In addition to the NP, I'm looking at this Ion impact vest that is on sale.

Fit vs flotation

The Ion goes under a waist harness, whereas the NP goes over (I think - that's what the shop said).
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by grantmac » Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:21 pm

If you get one that fits under the harness make sure it has grip material inside and out. I just returned one which didn't and it rode up continuously.

I'm tempted by the Promotion, their stuff is excellent from my experience.
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by C36 » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:39 pm

Two other options to consider.

Salus, Abacus
This one has more float (PDF like) but its up top and stays clear of waist harness and hook. I wore one of these for years (durable, good design, lots of float, but a little pricy).

Mystic also offers a range of impact vests ... floatation
I have worn two versions of the Star for a few years (less floatation, more flexibility, some impact protection, some warmth, waist skirt that goes inside waist harness).
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by ShonanDB » Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:15 pm

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I use an older Dakine Impact Vest/Waist Harness (for Windsurfing) that has decent flotation. It has a waist harness incorporated into it and I don't have any issues with it riding up. The foam is about 2cm thick throughout and is designed well so it doesn't restrict movement. I use it all the time except when on the Coast in waves. The added warmth for winter sailing is noticeable. Not sure if they still make them though but you may be able to find one on ebay.
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