Since it's inception the TeamO backtow lifejacket has been a one-off in a field of conventional lifejackets, but is there more to this lifejacket than the backtow?

Product Overview

Overall rating:

86%

Pros:

  • smart sculpted design, Excellent sprayhood, innovative design with backtow harness

Cons:

  • if you deploy the backtow you’re going to need to know how to put that back together or take it to a service centre. Currently low on stock throughout the UK due to post pandemic supply/manufacturer issues.

Product:

TeamO Backtow lifejacket – tested

TeamO Backtow lifejacket

The TeamO backtow arrived a few years ago in response to the unfortunate accidental deaths of more than one person who fell overboard, tethered during a regatta or race and were drowned by dragging through the water. The family based team behind the TeamO concept created this unique lifejacket that enables the wearer to “pull the pin” and release the harness so that it rotates around from the front position to tow the user from behind, putting them ina  much safer position while they await rescue and help to return back to the boat they are still tethered to.

Now, there’s more to a lifejacket that a single selling point. The TeamO lifejacket has more to offer.

Dry Testing

Fox shoreside comments, “when trying to repack this lifejacket, it was impossible to find repacking instructions online or on any of the packaging. We need to take it back to an authorised service centre to get it repacked or give TeamO a call to find out just what we are supposed to do to rearm the back tow component.”

The TeamO backtow lifejacket isn’t a one trick pony, it performs well across the board. It really is an excellent lifejacket. The downside currently is that TeamO are still recovering their stock levels post pandemic and like many companies have struggled with suppliers of essential parts.

The team behind TeamO were keen make this clear to avoid disappointment to anyone trying to find one of these in the early part of 2022.

The concept of the back tow was born from necessity after one too many people were killed by being dragged in their standard lifejacket harness overboard, Team-O came up with an ingenious solution creating a method to allow the harness fastening to rotate the wearer in the water so that they are towed backwards while crew work on slowing the boat down and retrieving their MOB. It makes us wonder, why aren’t more life jacket manufacturers adding this sort of provision into their lifejackets.

Pool Testing

Anna comments from the pool test, “This auto-inflated seriously quickly. Much more comfortable in the water than coastal versions. The sprayhood is really easy and comfortable, it fitted right over bladders and kept well away from airways. The Backtow needs a really strong pull to release, almost enough to break your ribs! But then it’s so much more sensible being towed the right way up.”

The bladder is a fluoro yellow giving excellent day visibility. The sprayhood is outstanding on this lifejacket with extra reflectors. Everything falls intuitively to hand and the lifejacket feels very stable. We did deploy the backtow system and this revealed a whole other issue for the repacking.

No matter how we looked at it, we couldn’t figure out how to re-arm the backtow harness system, meaning this lifejacket must got back to a service centre or back to to Team-O for repacking/rearming of the backtow system. We might have fared better had be studied how the harness release system was stowed in the first place, or taken photographs of it to refer to later. We were unable to find a rearming video on youtube either. For once we were defeated. Which is why it scores low on the repacking/rearming element.

Team-O Backtow lifejacket

Price from £220

Buy TeamO Backtow from Promarinestore

How our lifejacket scored on average out of 10 for each of our criteria

8 – Adjust speed ease difficulty
8 – Fastening buckle ease with gloves
9 – Comfort women body size (when tested by men 4)
8 – Practicality. bulk snagging
8 – Manual inflated view and fitment
10 – Sprayhood
8 – PLB fitment
8 – Positioning of essential items
9 – Night view / reflectors / light (if fitted)
8 – Ease of checking bottle / trigger status
2 – Unpacking / repacking
8 – Style
10 – In water score (due to being tested alongside other higher spec models)

86% Total as a percentage

Verdict

A truly excellent lifejacket with innovation at its heart and the user practicality forefront. a couple of points to note though would be the complexity of the backtow element means that rearming it in a hurry, unless you’re a dab hand already and have practiced shoreside, might leave you reaching for the spare lifejacket and sending this one off for someone else to do it for you. There’s also the issue of stock levels in the UK taking a while to get back to pre-pandemic numbers.


With thanks to

western maritime training logo


Note: all of our lifejackets tested conform to either  ISO 12402-3 (coastal/non harness) or ISO 12401 (harness versions), and this means that they all meet the basic safety standards you would expect from a lifejacket.
In order to conduct unbiased testing, our test team were given full freedom to test and evaluate the lifejackets presented to them on the tests days. Their opinions are made in a professional capacity and skippers and end users of the products and are a result of direct hands on experience. This does not override any official safety rating or certification.
legal disclaimer is available here

To read about more lifejackets go to our Best Lifejackets for Boaters and Sailors – Tested Buyers guide where you can find individual reviews for 15 current lifejackets