Pro short-handed sailor Pip Hare tests Spinlock’s latest addition to its Deckvest range during a race across the Atlantic
What is it? Leisure version of the lifejacket worn by pro racers
Who is it for? Sailors who need to wear a lifejacket for long periods at a time
For those of us who wear lifejackets for days on end, the Spinlock Deckvest VITO will come as a welcome revelation. This is without a doubt the most comfortable lifejacket I have ever worn over a long period of time and addresses many of the niggling issues that may disincline us from wearing our lifejackets.
The jacket is a leisure version of those worn by the Volvo Ocean Race teams and I tested it during last year’s RORC Transatlantic race.
The most notable design development is the relocation of the sprayhood from a collar at the neck into a back pouch. I have always found that extended use of other lifejacket designs, especially when combined with multiple layers and large offshore collars, has given me both neck and shoulder ache, combined with the feeling my head is being pushed forward.
The back pouch eliminates this problem, allowing full movement of the neck and also changing where the weight of the jacket rests on the body. The back pouch sits between the shoulder blades, and when tradewind sailing I did notice this part of my back felt noticeably hotter than the rest of me – but overall that seemed a very small price to pay.
Another great and sensible feature on the Deckvest VITO is a dedicated stowage pouch on the back of the jacket where the crotch strap can be stored when not in use. Although we know lifejackets are more effective with a crotch strap, sometimes, in the real world, we prefer not to wear them.
Providing a place to tuck the strap means it will always be with the jacket and I was able to easily reach behind me, grab the strap and do it up one-handed, even when I was wearing the jacket.
The Deckvest VITO can also incorporate a quick release system to allow the wearer to release a safety tether. Although this may not appeal to sailors of more traditional vessels, for anyone who regularly sails aboard fast yachts this is a practical and welcome addition to the design.
This 170N lifejacket retails at £250 with the option for an AIS device and the harness quick release feature. A Hammar inflation system, both Lume-On bladder lights and a Pylon lifejacket light, a sprayhood and crotch strap are fitted as standard.
This is one well-equipped high-end jacket for the serious sailor.
- Sprayhood packed into back panel
- Stowage for crotch strap
- One size of jacket – easy to adjust
- Expensive for the casual sailor
- Back panel is a little hot in warmer climates
Yachting World rating: 5/5