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Best USCG buoyancy and impact vest for kitesurfing and windsurfing?

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Re: Best USCG buoyancy and impact vest for kitesurfing and windsurfing?

Postby PullStrings » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:28 pm

No need for buoyancy vest :wink:



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Re: Best USCG buoyancy and impact vest for kitesurfing and windsurfing?

Postby Wind Over Water » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:42 pm

Sun wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:33 pm
From my experience with the NP High Hook vest, there is no problem having the vest over the waist harness so long as the vest does not ride up. While the High Hook is not USCG approved, it looks like one that is. As SENDIT! posted above, NP also makes a USCG pproved vest if you prefer. Knowing that the USCG requirement is a tough nut to crack, I suggest you do the following:

1. Buy the LF vest, or the NP USCG approved vest. They are USCG approved and have had at least some thought put in to making them kite friendly. If all that that amounts to versus a normal USCG approved boating vest is that LF/NP made the bottom part stretchy to fit over the waist harness, then that is still worth the extra investment. I will explain why soon.

2. Try the vest. See how it works after about three sessions. It took me about two sessions to get used to the NP vest. First session I hated it, but by the third I did not feel it at all. Not sure why, but I guess it was just a foreign feeling. You seem like you have already had some experience kiting with vests, but I still suggest using a few times to see if you really need to proceed to the next step.

3. If the vest rides up, modify it. Sure it may not pass USCG verification/validation after the modification, but it will make it kite friendly while retaining the USCG approved markings on the vest. I have not read the USCG requirements, mind you, so it is possible these modification keep the vest legal. In the end, they should not flag the local authorities that anything is wrong anyway. Plus, this does not alter the floatation of the vest. The modifications are based on my experience with the NP harness:

1. Put you waist harness on normally, and put the vest over it. Let the vest shoulder straps rest comfortable on your shoulders. Your harness hook will likely be underneath the vest. Feel for where that is, and mark it on the outside of the vest.
2. Cut a hole in the vest for the hook. A vertical slit about two inches tall centered on the hook will work. This should be placed close to the zipper in the middle of the vest. If the hook seems to be right behind one of the nylon webbing straps, cut the hole lower so that the hook come out beneath that strap. You may be tempted to cut the hole above the straps thinking this will keep the vest down, but that would be a mistake. The broad nylon webbing will foul your hook, and then the vest may actually pull the harness up.
3. Reinforce the hole. Best done by a seamstress or with proper sewing tools, but you can do this by hand with some patience. Focus on the upper and lower ends of the slit to stop it from tearing further up and down along the zipper. Be sure to close up the fabric on either side of the slit, but the upper and lower portions are the key points.
4. Try the vest for a session. If it seems to sit comfortably, try it for a few more. What you are looking for is to see if the vest tends to ride up or if there are any problems with the nylon webbing interfering with the hook or chicken loop. My NP vest tends to want to ride up, but the hole for the harness hook as a THIN/NARROW (maybe .5 inch wide) strip of nylon webbing on the bottom of the hole to keep it the vest down. Any bigger and the nylon webbing interferes with the chickeloop sitting on the hook.
5. If the vest rides up, add a THIN/NARROW nylon loop with a buckle around the vest so that the web is just beneath the harness hook, similar to the two broad ones that come with it. Unfortunately this would be the hardest to do since you will probably have to sew on belt loops to keep the new webbing in place, and they will need to be sturdy since they are keeping the vest from riding up. But that will work.

The above modification takes some time, but is easy to do with no special skills needed. The reason why buying the LF /NP vests is better is that there is no simple way to make the vest stretch like they do. Normal boating vests are too loose to modify to work in this manner.

I hope that all made sense.
Thank you Sun for the long write up! It's super helpful. I just ordered both the LF and NP vests to try out, as you suggested.

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