The Crewsaver Crewfit+180N Pro is a stylish and understated well specified lifejacket from a leading manufacturer of marine safety gear. We put it through a rigorous test to see if it lives up to the brand's high reputation. (spoiler alert, yes it does)
Crewsaver Crewfit+ Pro 180N Lifejacket
Crewsaver make some of the most recognisable lifejackets on the market and the logo will be familiar to anyone who spent even a short amount of time around water and safety gear. The Crewsaver Crewfit+ pro 180N is a quietly unassuming lifejacket with its nod to Hugo Boss Imoca style hexagon pattern on the casing.
This lifejacket went through the testing process twice. Why did we do this? Well, the first time we tested it we couldn’t believe how well it performed, so we did it all again and came out with the same result.
Now that’s not to say this lifejacket is perfect, clearly it’s not, otherwise we would have given it 100% rating. But as we passed this from tester to tester during our shoreside test each tester looked rather sheepishly at the note taker and just said, “this is really good”
How to quantify what that means, the adjustability was easy for all of our testers with the simple double adjuster pull to fit. The buckle, whilst not our testers favourite when used with cold hands or with gloves on, offers the tried and tested metal buckle.
Checking the arming mechanism is easy via the large semi-transparent window and access to the bottle is relatively quick and simple. Changing the CO2 bottle or simply disconnecting it though is a matter of further debate, which we’ll discuss in the pool testing section.
The crotch strap buckle is much further offset than we are familiar with but when tested it worked as well as any other and the offset was not noticeable.
Repacking this lifejacket was moderately fiddly due to the generously sized sprayhood fitted, which is a fairly standard scenario for all lifejackets fitted with sprayhoods and their stowage style varies between manufacturers.
We had fun with this lifejacket in the pool as a well known brand name we really gave it some extra real world testing, it performed really well, excelling in all areas of safety and comfort, so much so we re-armed it (It took our RNLI man 30 minutes of cursing with the anti-twist mechanism – so we re-armed it without the sticky mechanism the second time around) and threw our sea survival instructor in from a diving board, “unconscious” to see how it would perform. It flipped him onto his back within about 3 seconds and received a round of applause for the theatrics involved.
In the opinion of our onsite RNLI lifejacket inspector and sea survival instructor, all life jackets should come as standard with a spray hood and light as this one does.
James tested the Crewsaver Crewfit+ Pro in the pool/liferaft and commented positively on the wide bladders and spray hood, saying the light triggered instantly. He said “It was fiddly to locate the sprayhood but it was easy to fit over the bladder in the water. The lifting strop isn’t marked. The top of the top up tube is well positioned.” Though James also noted that the lifejacket felt quite stiff around the neck.
From manual triggered deployment to the auto-inflate test, the Crewsaver Crewfit+ Pro showed exemplary performance in the pool. The wide flared style of the bladder gives it excellent stability and rollover speed.
A note on the Crewsaver Exolok CO2 bottle security. Crewsaver as part of a much larger group Survitech have their own development lab and have created a sticky device, along with a plastic shaped housing to secure your CO2 bottle to avoid it coming unscrewed unintentionally, this combination of the two parts form their patented EXOLOK system. This common problem of bottles accidentally coming unscrewed has been addressed by the majority of manufacturers with a rubber ring secured around a plastic backing plate with a groove, it’s by no means perfect. So Crewsaver have gone the extra distance to find a more secure method. This is great for most applications and everyday use of the lifejacket, but what it does do is cause an extra level of rearming difficulty if you do accidentally trigger your lifejacket and need to attach a new bottle. You need to carry spare EXOLOK seals with you, as well as the CO2 bottle and auto capsule. Also if you want to fly with your lifejacket, you are obliged to unscrew your CO2 bottle for carriage in your hand luggage, meaning you must break the seal and reseal it later with a new one.
As a result of this additional level of rearming procedure, it took our RNLI lifejacket specialist longer than usual to rearm this lifejacket. What was also evident was that we, and anyone else in a wet environment were most likely to rearm it without the EXOLOK seal. A manufacturers good intentions and pride in innovation is often thwarted by the lowest common denominator, the end user, which let’s face it, will most often choose the path of least resistance/effort with their gear. (even if it is potentially life saving equipment)
In short, the EXOLOK is a great innovation but fails to take into account the realities of how an end user will use it.
Crewsaver Crewfit+ 180N Pro Lifejacket
Price from £160 with harness £150 without harness
How our lifejacket scored on average out of 10 for each of our criteria
8 – Adjust speed ease difficulty
6 – Fastening buckle ease with gloves
8 – Comfort on body (men and women)
9 – Practicality. bulk snagging
8 – Positioning of essential items
NA – Accessory attachment / kill cord loop
9 – Night view / reflectors / light (if fitted)
8 – Ease of checking bottle / trigger status
7 – Unpacking / repacking
8 – Style
10 – In water score
81% Total as a percentage
This is an excellent lifejacket, leading the way with coastal lifejackets that will take you offshore and into the night with its well positioned strobe light and nicely designed sprayhood. The thoughtful design is apparent throughout, but perhaps was taken one step too far with the CO2 bottle anti-unscrew seal feature (EXOLOK) making it a poor choice for frequent flyers but an excellent choice for people who worry about their CO2 bottles coming unscrewed.