WORDS: Scott Rawstorne, Global Paddler
It’s no secret I have long been a fan of the Ultra Trek lifejacket. There are many good reasons for that. The Ultra Trek has been through a series of evolutions and each of them has been consistently better than the last. Ultra PFD is an Australian business that spends a lot of time and money on research and development to make sure the products they offer Australian paddlers are second to none in terms of safety, comfort, and convenience.
The latest edition of the Ultra Trek is the AS4758. It is named after the Australian Standard for lifejackets which it is designed and manufactured to meet so you can be sure it will keep you safe on the water. It is important to note that not all lifejackets sold in Australia meet Australian standards. Wearing a non-complying lifejacket could mean you are not getting the protection you need and in some jurisdictions, it can also result in a fine. It is always better to be safe than sorry and the Ultra Trek AS4758 is so comfortable, you barely know you have it on.
The comfort features that have made Ultra’s Ocean Racer and Rewa such popular lifejackets have been incorporated in the Trek AS4758. The flexible PVC foam buoyancy is super spongy so it moulds to any body shape and a high-performance soft polyester fabric has been used for the interior so it feels good against your skin. When it comes to comfort, Ultra Trek AS4758 is miles ahead of old school lifejackets that consist of rigid blocks of foam covered in slippery coarse nylon.
Many other improvements have been made for the new version of the Ultra Trek. They include:
- A zip opening for the hydration pocket on the back enables the reservoir to be held more firmly and securely.
- Enhanced reservoir tube shoulder guides make it easier to keep the tube in place and place the bite valve where you need it.
- Internal adjustment buckles for the shoulder straps allow the jacket to be adjusted to fit perfectly without leaving loose straps dangling all over the place.
- Improved pocket compartmentalisation enables you to carry everything you need without having to dig around to find it. I particularly like the neoprene pocket on the front where I can quickly stow my glasses or my phone.
- Fabric knife attachment points instead of the hard plastic ones that have been traditionally found on lifejackets.
Time-tested features that remain include:
- Easy to use side entry design. Slip it over your head, clip two buckles, and zip.
- Low profile shape that provides maximum buoyancy over a small area
- Stable buoyancy with over 6kg (50 newtons) of upward thrust
- Enough arm room to execute paddle strokes without rubbing
- Short body to avoid getting caught on spray decks and backrests
- Reinforced and bar-tacked stress points to ensure your lifejacket is always in good working order.
- 500 denier ripstop fabric for greater durability
- Heavy-duty 38mm webbing on shoulder and side adjustment straps for strength and added comfort
- Neoprene comfort zones between webbing straps and your body to ensure the jacket is supremely wearable
- Safety gold colour for visibility
- Lanyard attachment points to attach essential items to the lifejacket e.g. camera, phone, and compass
For all of these excellent reasons, the Ultra Trek AS4758 is my lifejacket of choice. If you would like to try one for yourself, head to the dealer list on the Ultra PFD website to find the stockist nearest you.