From reading our posts about the hundreds of miles (actually closer to 1000 miles) that we have kayaked over the last few years, and my newfound passion for standup paddle boarding, those who do not know me may be surprised to learn that I am not a very good swimmer. In fact, before Larry and I endeavored into water sports, I had a fear of water, stemming from my childhood experiences with swimming lessons. However, I had been bound and determined to overcome that fear because I really wanted to have fun partaking in water sports together.
Over the years, I have used various types of lifejackets while kayaking and paddle boarding. But this year, I wanted something that was less constricting and cumbersome. For paddle boarding, many people, Larry included, wear a flotation device that buckles around the waist, which is super small and convenient. Sounds great, right? Well, not necessarily for me because that type of flotation device is manually operated, requiring the wearer to pull the cord to activate the flotation mechanism should they need it when they become immersed in the water. And, it does not provide enough buoyancy for my comfort level. So being that I am still not a great swimmer, I worried that I could find myself in a situation where I possibly would not be able to pull the cord, and then all my fun would be over.
Upon continued research, I came across the Onyx A-24 In-Sight Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket, a different type of flotation device that resembles more of a harness. There is a thick flotation pack that rests behind the neck, with two flotation packs that lie on each side of the front chest. There are two wide nylon straps that extend down the back that connect to a waist strap that buckles around in the front. The harness does adjust to accommodate for different waist circumferences, but it does not adjust for different torso heights – one size fits all.
For example, the waist strap (where the buckle is) sits about 1.5 inches above my belly button, although I would much prefer to be able to pull it down further so that it clasps below that. As a result, I find myself tugging on it all the time to pull it down, but it does not adjust that direction. So if you have a long torso (which I do not), this will sit even higher on you, which may feel a bit awkward. But because I am much smaller than the average adult, that may be the position where the strap is actually intended to be. Also, this product does take a little breaking in, as the flotation pack behind the neck is very stiff, and pokes outward until it gets worn a few times.
The Onyx A-24 In-Sight Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket is great for people who want the best of everything. Not only is it lightweight and unrestricting, but it also offers both a manual and an automatic inflation option. For example, if I fall into the water and become immersed, the device will automatically trigger the flotation mechanism, which is fueled by a CO2 (carbon dioxide) cylinder (these have to be replaced with a new cylinder each time it gets activated). And one unique feature of this particular product is the ‘window’ located on the front bottom right side of the flotation piece – this allows the wearer to see either green or red. The color indicates whether the CO2 mechanism is working. I check the window each time before I put it on. Below the window is a large, plastic yellow handle, which is what the wearer would pull on to manually trigger the inflation mechanism.
I have used the Onyx A-24 In-Sight Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket a half dozen times so far this year, for both kayaking and paddle boarding, and I am thoroughly pleased with the comfort, freedom and convenience that it provides. And although I have never fallen off of my paddle board or tipped over in the kayak, I know that this device will keep me safe.
Overall: Great Purchase
Price paid: $139.30
Place purchased: Amazon
Link to Onyx website: Onyx
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