OK, right off the bat we’re gonna tell ya that the Aegis Lifeshirt will not replace your traditional USCG-approved personal flotation device, so don’t expect to never have to don your PFD again. But, what this incredible bit of ingenuity does provide is some added assurance when it comes to keeping your loved ones and yourself alive.
Created by Aegis, the Lifeshirt features an inflatable bladder that inflates around the upper torso and neck to keep the head above water (thanks to a tiny CO2 cylinder woven into a small compartment on the back) when either a shoulder-mounted handle is manually pulled, or automatically when a sensor detect when the wearer has been submerged for a specified period of time.
According to Gizmag, Aegis “keeps the Lifeshirt as comfortable as possible using carefully selected materials and design solutions. The current design is a form-fitting shirt with an internal moisture-wicking liner, mesh ventilation panels and UPF 50+ fabric. The inflation system is built into the upper-middle back. An integrated waistband ensures the shirt stays in place.”
They continue, “Lifeshirt has been approved by the International Standards Organization (ISO) as a Level 50 device. The company has a Level 70 design in the works. ISO classifies Level 50 (50 newtons/11.2 lb of buoyancy) devices as ‘buoyancy aids’ that ‘require the user to make swimming and other postural movements to position the user with the face out of the water” and differentiates them from lifejackets, which “provide face up in-water support to the user regardless of physical conditions.'”
Lastly, while the 50 N rating meets ISO standards, the Florida-based Aegis Lifeshirt does not meet US Coast Guard (USCG) vessel carriage requirements for recreational boats and paddle craft, currently. Aegis has hopes that the USCG will soon come to harmonize its standards with ISO at a future date.