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Bandeau Belt

A life jacket you'll actually want to wear

2010 | Technical fabrics, inflation technology

Graduation project at ECU created in partnership with Kathleen Westerhout 

While extremely advanced and technical, it’s not often that water safety devices are ever considered fashionable. Lifejackets, or Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are utilitarian in style, with little consideration for social stigmas or appearance. Consequently, they are rarely worn.

The design challenge is steep; 80% of boating-related deaths are due to victims not wearing a PFD. Our goal was to addresses the negative perceptions of safety devices and low wear-rates by creating a device that is both stylish and desirable to wear.  

Many available PFDs offer great protection for active, sporty water activities, but there are no products suitable for the fashion-conscious woman who values both style and safety.

Teaming up with Mustang Survival, we created a product line for female recreational boaters. Our alternative to bulky (and ugly) Personal Flotation Devices is the Bandeau Belt: an inflatable PFD that seamlessly merges fashion and function to enhance the user's experience on the water.

 

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The Belt Pack. Images courtesy of Mustang Survival

The Belt Pack. Images courtesy of Mustang Survival

Inspiration:

Mustang Survival's Belt Pack is unique in that, unlike most PFDs, it is worn around the waist like a belt, staying out of the way until you pull the inflation cord. It is a great option for recreational boaters looking for minimal bulk and control over inflation. 

The PFD operates by manual inflation, meaning it won't inflate unless you pull the activation cord. Easy to wear and maintain, it inflates to provide 35lb buoyancy, more than twice the flotation of a traditional foam PFD.

Of course manual inflation isn't ideal for all water activities. For water sports where you'll be likely be submerged or in risky situations (I'm looking at you, white-water kayakers), there are many other suitable PFD options that will help keep you afloat, conscious or otherwise.

But for the female recreational boater who is spending time relaxing on a pleasure craft, this type of manually-inflated device is a perfect solution for meeting Transport Canada or US Coast Guard safety requirements.

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There is a prominent lifestyle of luxury and freedom associated with boating, no matter what size vessel.

The Bandeau Belt is the only product line that offers both style and safety for the fashion-conscious woman aboard a glamorous yacht. It is a stylish, discreet alternative to the classic life preserver.

Available in a variety of styles and colours, the Bandeau Belt has been designed to minimize bulk, maximize comfort, and flatter the figure  (not to mention your outfit).

The Bandeau Belt could easily pass for a regular accessory—until you inflate the hidden life preserver.
— Bridgette Meinhold, ecoterre.com

Safety without compromising style

The unique housing for an inflatable bladder disguises the device as a stylish belt that seamlessly integrates with yachting apparel without appearing bulky or utilitarian.

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Features and Details: 

The Bandeau Belt's ergonomic design conforms to the body to provide security and comfort. An adjustable webbing strap at the back allows for a customized fit.

Additional safety features include:

  1. Manual inflation - inflates by pulling activation cord
  2. Oral inflation tube acts as secondary inflation option
  3. Co2 canister provides 35lb buoyancy, more than twice the flotation of traditional foam PFDs. Use a re-arm kit to replace canister after use.
  4. SOLAS reflective tape for increased visibility in rescue conditions
  5. Safety whistle     
  6. Brushed fabric panel behind side zipper to reduce chafing when worn against the skin
  7. Neck opening uses soft binding and utilizes a contoured shape for comfort

In case of emergency:

Simply pull the inflation tab, and the compressed air within the C02 canister will cause the bladder to inflate.

In the rare event the canister fails, the bladder can be removed and inflated manually.

 

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BoatUS Foundation: Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition

The Bandeau Belt placed 5th in this international contestPlease view our video submission to see this stylish PFD in action.

Inflatable Fashion: The Bandeau Belt

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Inflatable Fashion Photo Shoot: A behind-the-scenes video

Photography and Video by Mark Stokoe 

Shooting the Bandeau Belt in chilly British Columbia wasn't exactly easy, but thanks to an amazing team (and a large supply of hand warmers) we got some amazing images.

 

The Bandeau Belt has received a generous amount of press: 

See the complete list here > 

 

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