Ali Wood tests the Red Original 50N buoyancy aid on a club sail in Christchurch Harbour

Product Overview


Red Original 50N buoyancy aid review

With buoyancy aids, it’s handy to have a pocket for a handheld radio, snack and multitool, and if you’re on a boat, maybe a spare kill-cord or engine key. I was keen to try the Red Original 50N buoyancy aid because of its expandable front pocket.

There’s plenty of room in the pocket, but there is a 1in gap where the zip ends, and it’s not water-resistant so bear in mind anything inside the pocket can get wet. Normally I’d be a size small, but in this model, ‘small’ is designed for kids (and has a crotch-strap, which the adult version doesn’t).

The medium size is therefore for users weighing 50-70kg, which is still fairly small for an adult. It’s unisex, but the problem for me is I have a short trunk, so when I wear this for dinghy sailing it’s a bit gappy on the shoulders.

While this isn’t an issue when standing or kneeling on a SUP it does mean that when you fall in, the buoyancy aid sits around your chin and impedes your ability to swim. To be fair, this is a problem I find with a lot of buoyancy aids, and the advantage of a longline ‘SUP fit’ is slimline foam, so it’s not as bulky.

Plus, it might also suit users with a larger bust or chest. The buoyancy aid has mesh sides, which are comfy and breathable over bare skin and swimsuits, and an attachment point for a SUP leash or small carabiner.

Buy it now on

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.


The zip is on the side, which sometimes interferes with the attachment point and waist adjustment clip, so it does take slightly longer to get on and off than a regular ‘over-the-head’ or ‘front-zip’ model. But it is comfortable and moulds to the body, allowing plenty of room under the armpits (as long as you’re not swimming), avoiding chafe.