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There are things we can be happy about when we don’t need them … anyway it’s good that they exist in case of emergency! Like for us watersports addicts this could be a self-inflating backup that might safe your life through offering buyoancy to keep yourself above the water surface – whilst it’s compact and lightweight in it’s inactive state and, super important, never gets in your way when you’re riding.
Restube produces such safety floats and provided me the sports version which I tested for this article.
I didn’t hesitate when Restube asked me if I would test their product in cooperation. Why? Because safety für kitesurfers is a topic I really care about – not only due to some dangerous situations I experienced myself. As I spend a lot of time in the water and on kitespots I often notice critical incidents which – at best – have a happy ending, but could also easily end in a desaster.
What I found very likeable was that Restube explained on their FAQ how the idea for the takeaway-buoy was born: One of the company founders had a critical situation when he was kitesurfing in open waters …. and he had wished for some clever rescue equipment. Thus, the handy Restube was developed by water sportsmen – so one can expect that they know what they are talking of and also that they’re use their product for themselves. Furthermore the product was awarded the “brand new award” at the sports trade fair ISPO as well as by the federal government.
Do you really need a safety buoy as a kitesurfer?
Of course we shouldn’t always assume the worst kitesurfing scenarios – after all we want to have fun, right? So one could just think: Nothing can happen to me/I stay close to the shore/if something goes wrong, people on the beach will see me and help … and, furthermore, I still have my kite and can use it as a floating device in case of emergency … and so on, and so forth.
Those who already have experienced critical incidents know how quickly it can go wrong – as you can also read in this article about kitemares. It’s a fact: Even if you act as a role model in case of safety aspects this does not mean that you’re immune against failure, bad luck or natural forces that may cause dangerous situations.
There are some special situations that can easily turn out dangerous: For example when you get in trouble with your kite far away from the shore. Of course in many cases one can do a self rescue (if you know how to) to reach the beach again. But what if you lose your kite – e. g. due to a ripped leash? Or if you have to let your kite go cause it loops uncontrolled (deathloop)? Or if it loses air? Such incidents often have unhappy endings.
One problem is that particularly on empty spots there’s no one there to get help or that even no one sees that help is needed. A kite might be spotted also quite far away from the beach, but a single person easily gets overlooked. So that means a long swim back to the shore. But one shouldn’t forget that swimming is exhausting and there is also the risk for cramps. Furthermore rough conditions like waves, cold water or strong currents are not very swimmer-friendly at all. Not to mention that swimming if you are hurt isn’t possible for a long time.
Turning to the main question: Does a kitesurfer absolutely need a rescue tool like Restube? My opinion: Well, if you’re not only riding in shallow lagoons but also in open water, it definitely makes sense. I probably won’t use it for every single session, but in certain conditions I’m sure that it will give me a better and secure feeling.
Not to forget another point: The self-inflating floater might not only be useful for yourself – it also gives you the possibility to help others who are in trouble.
Scenarios that get way more safe with Restube:
- When one goes kitesurfing alone
- Kiting on lonely spots at the open sea or also on lakes if you ride far away from the shore
- Riding on deep water spots without a rescue boat
- When it’s cold – swimming in cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, so one should be able to get help as soon as possible. Due to it’s yellow colour Restube makes you more visible.
- Kitesurfing in rough conditions, like in waves
- For kitesurfers who are afraid of or in deep water
- Kids: For the young blood Restube definitely makes sense – simply because it gives a safe feeling
- Teaching kitesurfing in deep waters or far away from the shore
- In waters with strong currents
As kitesurfing is a sport with so much diversity, of course there are umpteen other situations in which it could also be useful to have Restube with you, but it would be too much to list them all here. In general, everybody has to assess for himself which safety features he needs or wants to use.
The fact that 500.000 people worldwide drown, among them many athletes, should be warning enough (source: WHO, restube.com). One of the main reasons is panicking. Having a small float to keep your head above the water and your airways clear helps a lot to stay calm and can therefore be lifesaving.
Here’s a short video that shows how Restube works.
Restube review: Rescue buoy as backup
Before I tested the system I checked the homepage to see how everything works and how the pocket looks. But when I held it in my hands for the first time I was really wondering how small and light it is.
I had received the Restube Sports system which was developed for “rough” use. The price including one CO2 cartridge is 99,95 Euro. You can reorder the CO2 cartriges in a double pack for 8,99 Euro (the smartest way of course is to order a bunch of them in your first order).
The pocket is available in blue and black and it’s delivered with an exchangeable belt system. It can be used with the belt (it comes with a belt that has 30 mm but also suits other belts from 25 to 50 mm width) or mounted directly on the harness, whether you prefer it on the side or at the backside.
In the closing cap of the pocket you’ll find a small extra pocket for a key or some money. The robust bag system is made for rough conditions and due to its splint closing system it should not open unintentionally even if you’re in big waves or get ground contact.
For the test I used the pocket with the belt provided. Of course, then there’s another tool next to all the things you already wear – but to be honest I didn’t feel disturbed. It wasn’t in my way, neither when I was launching nor on the water (cause I could put it back whilst riding).
Restube review – that’s how the system works:
The pocket (size 14x7x5 cm, weight 270 g) contains the folded buoy and one 16 g CO2 cartridge which inflates the buoy when you pull the trigger. In the test this was very easy – just a pull and the float immediately inflates, all in all this takes just a few seconds.
When Restube is inflated it has a buoyancy of 75 newton and a volume capacity of 7.5 liters. As per producer this is way enough to be able too keep your head above the water surface, no matter how big or heavy you are. I could hold onto it and just let myself float in the water without sinking.
In a real emergency situation Restube offers many benefits – especially it gives you time, you can hold on and float without spending a lot of extra energy for swimming. Furthermore it makes you way more visible and you can wave with it to call help. Additionally you can order a reflector strip that makes it better visible also in the dark.
After use you just deflate the buoy (there’s a valve that can also be used for oral inflation), install the new gas cartridge and its safety retainer clip, fold up the float, and stow it away in its bag. The folding is very easy cause there are markers that show exactly how to do it.
Here is a video about the reset process.
Apart from the fact that you have to replace a new gas cartidge after use the float can be reused multiple times as all components (fabric, trigger, mouth valve …) are robust and certified by the lifejacket standard EN ISO 12402. Restube is produced in Germany.
Here’s a download link for user manuals and information about plane flights with Restube.
Also very useful: the FAQ concerning Restube.
Restube review – Pros & cons
- More safety on the water (e. g. if you go kitesurfing alone or ride in open waters) and the good feeling to have a backup in case of emergency
- Small size and lightweight – also the pocket can be mounted in several ways according to personal needs
- Easy triggering – no big strength needed for the pull
- Offers buyoancy to keep the head above the water surface which is useful when you have to swim a long time, when you’re exhausted, have a cramp or got hurt
- The fact that one can hold on to the floating device has a calming effect if panic comes up
- It’s also a backup to help other people who are in trouble in the water
- Increased visibility, it’s also possible to wave with the yellow buoy to call help
- Easy resetting process
- Even in rough conditions the bag can’t open unintentionally
- Restube is also useful for other activities like snorkeling (as is makes you more visible and you can rest on the buoy
- Offers way more freedom of movement than a life jacket
- Of course it’s possible that some users might feel limited in their freedom of movement due to the additional pocket
- If you forget to reorder the CO2 cartidges, you can’t use your Restube (only with oral inflation, but the question is if this is possible in case of panic or exhaustion)
- Only original Restube gas cartidges can be used in the system
- Restube can be brought onto planes, but the cartridges should be registered before by phone. Also you need a safety flyer that has to be packed together with Restube
- It’s one more piece in your kite luggage (ok, 270 g and some more grams for spare cartridges is not massive … especially if you think “safety first”)
I wouldn’t judge the price of 100 Euro as expensive, so I don’t list it as a disadvantage. Firstly, Restube can be used again and again, and secondly there’s the simple question how much safety is worth? We invests hundreds or thousands of Euro in kite equipment, so I think that 100 Euro for a possible lifesaver is nothing to complain about.
Who has already used Restube or what do you think about this safety tool? Curious to hear about your thoughts!
By the way, if you want to read more about safety & kitesurfing, you might be interested in this article about how fear turns into (healthy) respect.