This is the top freestyle vest from US manufacturer Lotus. Lotus is one of the U.S’s top buoyancy aid or as they say PFD (personal flotation device) manufacturers, and at current they aren’t available in the UK, neither are they CE approved, however they do rock!
I obtained my ‘Lowrider’ via mail order from www.boatwerks.net a Canadian company with shops on the banks of the Ottawa, but most shops in the US and Canada stock them, so if your planning a trip, or don’t mind paying the shipping, its well worth it.
At first glance the ‘Lowrider’ is a sweet looking bit of kit, super low profile as the name suggests, and ultimate freedom of movement. It has straps on the shoulders and 2 on the sides to adjust and tighten the fit of the pfd including a unique internal harness that gives a good tight fit with out constricting breathing. It’s constructed of a solid cordura shell, and an Airtex type foam.
How does it perform? Well I’ve had mine a year now and as well as using it for kayaking of all types I used it daily for coasteering in the summer, and its awesome! I’ve never owned or used a pfd that gives such good freedom of movement, it’s as if you weren’t wearing one at all. When freestyling it allows you to perform all kinds of body contortions with out it moving, and with out any restriction, which is just what the doctor ordered. And most importantly it provides more than enough floatation if you do take a swim.
All in all a splendid bit of kit, works well looks good, and not many UK boaters have it! As far as price goes, at the time of buying it worked out cheaper from Canada due to the exchange rate, and I haggled for the best price, roughly with out shipping it cost around £80, and if you shop around I’m sure you can get a similar deal.
Ian white (the Airbitchproject team)
Lotus founder Phil Curry has since set up Astral Designs.