Life jackets are great, as they can make the difference between drowning on the spot or living to do stupid things another day. Problem is, they’re bulky and somewhat uncomfortable, which is why many people risk going in the water without one. The Hyde Wingman Life Jacket wants to change that.
Billed as the “thinnest and most versatile inflation vest,” the water safety gear promises high performance during water activities, making it ideal to wear whether you’re surfing, swimming, or riding on the back of a dolphin just like you always imagined as a child. Designed to remove the stifling effect inflation vests tend to put on a person’s range of motion, it promises to let you move as you always have, all while being ready in the event that a drowning emergency commences.
The Hyde Wingman Life Jacket is based on the CO2-inflatable vests originally used by big wave surfers, albeit in a design and construction that’s more affordable for mass consumption. Instead of being able to float right off the bat like traditional life jackets, it has an inflatable bladder that blows up when you activate the CO2 cylinder in the back. This allows it to wear slim and flush across the body, enabling the full range of motion you need to surf, paddle, and perform any action you need while on the water.
A mounting plate on the back holds a standard marine-grade canister, where it sits in the upper position, so it doesn’t get in the way for those times you’re in a seated position against a backrest (e.g. riding a kayak). The canister is connected to an over-the-shoulder ripcord that sits directly on your chest, making it easy to pull any time you realize that you need to inflate your life jacket. When pulled, the CO2 inflates the bladder, which creates a buoyant material across your chest and the back of your neck, which should pull your upper body well above the water surface.
The Hyde Wingman Life Jacket uses a patented zipper technology for the inflating bladder, which bursts at three points to ensure smooth deployment while helping it lay perfectly flat whenever it’s deflated. An internal strap system acts as a load-bearing skeleton that ensures you can lifted from the water during inflation, while an oral tube on the right chest section makes it easy to deflate the bladder once you’re safely back on shore.
Since you’re going to wear it throughout an activity, you might as well find other uses for your vest, right? That’s exactly what they did here, as the life jacket comes with a zippered pocket with an audio port for listening with headphones while on the water, as well as a sleeve that can fit 1.5-liter hydration bladders, so you can bring drinks along. Other features include straps that are designed to serve as modular connection points for compatible accessories, mesh accents throughout to ensure water flows through the vest, and adjustable underarm straps to ensure a custom fit.
Originally a Kickstarter product, the Hyde Wingman Life Jacket is available now.