Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Modular Gear For The Rest Of Us: Switlik X-Back Air Crew Vest

Continuing my series chronicling examples of modular carry equipment geared to non-military endeavours.

In existence since 1920, Switlik Parachute Co. (although I don’t think they actually make parachutes any more), manufacture anti-g and anti-exposure suits, PFDs, inflatable rafts for military, law enforcement and the aviation industry in an 85,000 sq. ft facility in Trenton, New Jersey.

The material is a Nomex/Kevlar blend and is available in Cobalt Blue and Burnt Orange.
Also available are various pouches, including one for a HEED bottle.
Shown with various pouches attached.

It comes in at a weight of 1.08 kg (2 lbs 6 oz). Two 18g CO2 cylinders give it a buoyancy of over 35 lbs. It also has a built in locator light. Cost is $379.00.

I have a Mustang Survival manually inflatable PFD, (not certain of the exact model), that is superficially similar to this, and I’ve been very happy with it. Light and unobtrusive, yet one tug on the handle and I instantaneously have a horseshoe yoke keeping me afloat and my head up and out of the water.

But if I’m in a boat of some kind, I also want to have some other life saving gear on me, should I somehow become separated from the boat. Comms, and some other means of signalling, a way to start a fire and some other basic survival gear, some food maybe, a multi-tool, compass, etc. This thoughtful incorporation of PALS webbing allows for that very need.

If I was in the market for another PFD, even though this is geared towards air-crew, I could see it being applicable to watersports as well. The fact that it comes in orange is also appealing.

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