Every once in a while a new product jumps out at you and you wonder why no one ever thought of it before. Simple in design and extremely practical you see a bright future for it. The RESTUBE is just such a product and got its US introduction at Surf Expo in Orlando.
At first glance it looks like a very small belt pack life jacket, one that is smaller than any life vest on the market today. It is in fact a flotation device that can save your life – but it is not a life jacket. Inflated manually with a cartridge this flotation device is designed as an aid to anyone on the water. When inflated it is similar in size and performance to a flotation device you would see a lifeguard using. Attached to a tether that is in turn attached to a belt this device is intended to float freely and can be tucked under your arms, similar to a pool noodle, to allow you to rest while in the water or to add flotation while self-rescuing.
The RESTUBE inventor came up with the idea after a near fatal incident while kite boarding when he separated from his board and his kite became waterlogged in rough seas. Having trouble staying afloat and recovering from his wipe out he realized that a life jacket was impractical but something that could allow him to stay afloat, rest and then swim for his equipment would turn a dangerous situation into a non-event. The result is the RESTUBE available in two models. There is a RESTUBE classic that is designed for less extreme watersports and has a deflated RESTUBE in a nylon pouch that can be vertically or horizontally mounted on a supplied belt or webbing up to 30mm. This pouch has a simple Velcro closure and inflation can be activated with a manual pull cord that triggers a 24oz CO2 cartridge (the same cartridge used in many coastal and inshore inflatable life jackets). The second model is the RESTUBE sports that is similar to the classic but has a plastic splint that holds the case closed and has to be pulled prior to pulling the inflation cord. The splint stops the case from opening accidently when under the pressure it may face while doing activities such as kite boarding.
These flotation devices are not yet Coast Guard approved in the US but have received significant recognition in Europe where they were developed. I for one can see myself wearing this unobtrusive device and having some peace of mind that help is there if I need it. Availability is certain to increase as people recognize the potential of this new life-saving device.