Prices of liferafts range from £500 to more than £2,000. Will the cheap ones costing under £560 suit your type of sailing as well as your pocket? Pat Manley and a team of PBO readers tested them in the RNLI survival training pool to find out.

Plastimar Liferaft 4-Man Valise

As you can see it was a bit tippy when the first crewman got in and needed a person to act as a counter weight on the other side. Price: £499.

XM 4-Man Valise

A well made raft with an automatic light but unfortunately the one we tried did not inflate fully (see second video) but the manufacturers have now addressed the problem. Price: £555.

Putting the liferafts through their paces

The testers had to right the rafts, get everyone onboard, cut the painter, paddle away from the stricken craft, deploy the sea anchor, sort out the kit and maintain a safety routine. The RNLI sea survival pool is used to train lifeboat crews and the waves and a fire hose sprayed over the raft added a touch of realism.