Five dedicated testers took to the RNLI College's training pool to assess various lifejackets for ease of donning, closure, comfort both in and out of the water, speed of deployment and all-round efficiency.

Find the results of Alex Bell’s group test on 17 lifejackets in the May 2015 issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine.

Out in the shops from today, Thursday 26 March.

How we tested them

Our test comprised of two stages: ‘dry’ and in the water.

THE DRY TEST enabled the test team to try the jackets for ease of donning, closure mechanism, waist adjustment and wear comfort.

Each jacket was tried on and tested while testers were moving around and sitting on a seat with a back rest.

We also assessed how easy it was to rearm the firing head and replace the inflation cylinder, and finally repack and make the closure.

IN THE POOL, our testers jumped into the water from a height of 1m, and we timed how long it took for the jackets to fully inflate.

They then had to locate and blow the whistle, deploy the sprayhood then swim to a four-man liferaft and climb aboard. We were interested to see whether an inflated lifejacket made this task any easier or harder.

Testers then re-entered the pool, swam to the side and attached a snap shackle to either a lifting loop or the harness attachment D-ring. They were then towed a short length down the pool to assess how the jacket supported them.

The final test was to lift them out of the water using a block and tackle, again attached either to the lifting loop or D-ring.

Read the full article, and find the results of the group test on 17 lifejackets in the May 2015 issue of PBO.