By Sarah Thornely (Supjunkie)
Mustang Survival is a Canadian company with over 55 years of experience designing and producing high-quality waterproof marine safety gear. Their first government contract was with the Canadian military in 1984, and since 1996, they have provided NASA with equipment for many missions.
Mustang also provides kit for leisure and professional anglers, sailors, paddleboarders, ocean racers and adventurers. With this in mind, I was incredibly interested to check out the quality of their new Minimalist Belt Pack PFD and to see how it worked.
So off to the river once more to immerse myself in this review. The belt is incredibly well made from high-quality materials, and the sturdy webbing belt fits well and comfortably. The length is fully adjustable through the chunky buckle from 75cm to 155cm. The belt is small, unobtrusive and neat and tidy in its appearance. After fitting to the correct size, I could paddle without being aware of it.
Once I was ready to enter the water, I inflated it with the mouth tube and checked for size by putting the webbing neck strap over my head. It felt a little tight, so I loosened up the belt slightly – Mustang suggests testing your PFD in safe conditions so you can familiarise yourself with it before use.
Once the PFD was inflated, I popped into the water and immediately floated nicely without any issues. I could swim forward by resting my chin on the pillow-style bladder. I could also float with my feet down or on my back and felt slightly more comfortable holding onto the bladder, but it wasn’t necessary to do this. The neck strap could feel a little uncomfortable around the back of your neck depending on what you are wearing, but clearly, it’s made to be strong enough to keep you safe.
My one thought when I saw this product was the ability to get back on a paddleboard, as the bladder sits like a pillow on your chest. I am a paddler who can re-mount my board with no issues, which this time proved to be the case. It was straightforward and did not hinder me at all. You could have the same issue if you experience difficulty re-mounting your board.
Once deflated, the PFD fits neatly back into its pouch – again, there are self-explanatory instructions on how to do this on the pack itself and in the extensive owner’s manual.
Spec: The Minimalist Belt Pack is a manual inflatable PFD, and once inflated with the pull tab, the belt has 70N of buoyancy, is perfect for inshore activities, and is recommended for water users such as paddlers, anglers and boaters. It is not recommended for non-swimmers and is not marketed as a life jacket. When inflated, the bladder’s bright colour ensures greater visibility for added safety.
I am impressed with the quality and design of the Minimalist Belt Pack. It is clearly designed for confident water users who expect to be in and out of the water and may need to inflate if they have an issue where they need extra buoyancy until they manage to get back on their craft or to land. If you prefer this type of belt PFD, I would recommend checking it out on Mustang Survival’s website, where they have a host of other high-quality kit.