“Harmonized.” It’s not a word you’d associate with your PFD, but it’s what brings us a seriously cool new lifejacket from Mustang Survival, based in Vancouver. In the quest for PFD use to become as normal as seatbelts and helmets are today, this one is a game changer for inshore racing.
Harmonized has nothing to do with the physical properties of this PFD. It’s a government buzzword that describes a new approval system that “results in the harmonization of safety approvals between the United States and Canada to create a standard followed by both countries.” In other words, if it’s approved north of the border, it’s legit here as well. This is good news for performance sailors.
Let’s get to the PFD. Officially, it’s the Khimera Dual Flotation PFD. The dual part starts with the vest’s slim foam panels, which delivers minimal bulk and excellent range of motion. The stated floatation of the panels alone is 7.5 pounds, which is half that of a Type II or Type III PFD. Theoretically, it’s enough bouyancy to keep your head above water, and also makes it easier to swim and/or climb back into a capsized dinghy, or swim out from beneath a turtled small craft.
The magic happens when you pull its manual inflation handle, which is accessible on the right side of the vest, near the waist. Firing the inflator fills two air bladders (one in the chest area and one in the back/shoulder region). The Khimera’s buoyancy jumps to 20.5 pounds, but you also still retain excellent range of motion.
Inside the vest, near the neckline, is a stowed manual inflation tube as a backup. It’s easy to deflate the vest (partially or fully) from the tube as well, which may be beneficial for climbing back onboard. Also, inside the front pouch is a holster for a spare CO2 cartridge. And unlike other over-the-shoulder units, this one requires no repacking. Just insert a new cartridge and you’re good to go.
For sportboat-racing teams that circumvent equipment requirements by keeping a brick of USCG-legal Type III inside the boat and wear CE-approved buoyancy aides, the Khimera is an excellent alternative, providing a comfortable PFD that the crew won’t mind wearing one bit.
This truly is one is the best of both types, and therein is the real harmony.
www.mustangsurvival.com, $200 and available in red, gray, and blue.