Deck Pro Harness by Spinlock Equipment

A comfortable combination deck harness/inflatable PFD that's easy to get on and off.


Courtesy Spinlock

We told you about Spinlock's Deckware gear in the September 2004 issue of SW, and had pro bowman Kris Matthews review their Mast Pro (bowman's harness) in the February 2005 issue. During this year's Bermuda Race we gave their ISAF/ORC-approved Deck Pro harness a test ride. The conditions were benign, but on the Swan 45 I race on harnesses and flotation are a requirement at night, so I had lots of opportunities to shrug the harness on and off while wearing different layers of offshore gear.The first thing you really notice about the Deck Pro is the ease with which you put it on. Thanks to an ergonomic design and effective use of stretchy materials in some of the straps, donning a Deck Pro harness is almost exactly like pulling on a T-shirt, no matter what you're wearing underneath. Most harness/flotation combos are donned as you would a vest, then buckled together. It's easy to twist straps and buckles and if you've gone from wearing a T-shirt to full wet weather gear, the harness usually has to be painstakingly re-adjusted. In the dark. When you're tired. And it's probably someone else's gear anyway.The Deck Pro harness has two thigh straps that has kept it from United States Coast Guard approval. The USCG thinks that some users won't wear them, and they're probably right, however, they're a snap to put on and adjust. Initially they're slightly uncomfortable, but after a few night watches I got used to them. Thigh straps will keep you floating higher in the water and prevent the vest from sliding up and over your face. They're a key ingredient to staying afloat and being found.By designing a harness/lifejacket combo that's easy to put on, Spinlock has won half the battle; getting people to wear the gear in the first place. The second is making the gear simple enough so a panicking sailor can figure out how it operates. On both the self-inflating and auto-inflating versions there is a very large black rubber handle on the upper left side of the jacket that can be mistaken for nothing but what it is. When you give it a yank, the CO2 cartridge fires and the jacket is inflated.The Deck Pro harness includes a water-activated Safety of Life at Sea-approved flashing light, reflective strips high on the jacket, and a spray hood. The fluorescent yellow spray hood will allow the person in the water to breath and protect his face from wind-blown spray.I've got a few more distance races on the agenda this year, and the Deck Pro will go with me to each one. It's a great piece of gear, and while it's relatively expensive at $359, it's obviously worth every penny.