Features July 2007 Issue

Immersion Suit Test

Practical Sailor tested six survival suits from three manufacturers in 35-degree water. Four of the six immersion suits we tested—the Mustang Ocean Commander (OC8001), the Stearns 1596 Dryflex, the Viking PS5002, and the Viking PS5006—were made of nylon material that had been calendared (sealed) with a polyurethane coating. The two traditional neoprene survival suits —Stearns 1590, in sizes small and adult universal—were stiffer and a bit more cumbersome, but proved to be easy to don, and were warm and well sealed.

Dominated by polyurethane-coated nylon immersion suits, the selection reflected a clear change in material preference among survival suit manufacturers. The tested immersion suits prices ranged from $260 to $700. Many of these companies also offer higher-grade, more expensive immersion suits that are aimed at commercial and search-and-rescue markets. Testers performed a thorough comparative analysis of the survival suits both in the water and on land. Details that were scrutinized included: weight, material, seam construction, zipper, reflective surface, boot and glove configuration, and air-purge valves. Testers were disappointed to find some of the suits used harnesses that could put sailors at risk.

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