With over 70% of the Earth’s surface covered in water, there’s no limit to the amount of fun that can be had swimming, surfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, sailing, fishing, or SUPing. The co-founders of Hyde Sportswear, Pat Hughes and Mike Fox, have a special spot in their hearts for the outdoors and their mission is to get others just as excited and involved in all that nature has to offer. “Live passionately and adventure frequently” is their motto and their flagship product, the Wingman, is a uniquely designed and highly advanced life vest solution delivering safety, style, and support whenever and wherever water lovers need it.
With a focus on incorporating today’s design innovations with traditional outdoor products, Hyde believes that safety should always come first and the Wingman system, “the world’s thinnest and most versatile life jacket,” should be everyone’s go-to lifesaving wearable that will enhance and extend outdoor time and thrill-seeking adventures.
The Wingman is an intelligent replacement for the life jacket mainstays that have dominated the water sports industry for years and are too often overly buoyant, uncomfortable, and cumbersome for most water activities, particularly high-performance ones such as surfing. Neatly styled with a smart, sporty fit that integrates the ultimate in modern safety features, the Wingman is truly a standout product and labor of love for Wisconsin natives Hughes and Fox.
Long-time nature fanatics, these high school classmates were inspired to develop an inflatable safety vest following the unfortunate passing of a triathlete during the grueling swimming portion of Hughes’ first triathlon competition. Since 2012, these diehard watermen have pumped out multiple prototypes prior to arriving at this one-of-a-kind inflatable jacket where “safety is just one pull away.”
Sporting the highly coveted U.S. Coast Guard approval, the Wingman is the first and only surf vest to earn such a certification, which assesses in-water performance, puncture resistance and overall robustness, among other things, providing full range of motion and guaranteeing high performance whether it’s worn by pro athletes or weekend water fanatics. Super easy to inflate, this rigorously tested wearable gets you to the surface fast and face up, unlike so many other inflatable devices that require additional maneuvering.
The streamlined, sophisticated, customizable design of the Wingman makes it a multi-purpose safety apparatus for water men and women who don’t want the bulky, dated look and feel of the conventional life jacket to impede their performance or style-worthiness when catching waves or navigating a calmer wake.
Sized to fit most adults over 90 lbs, the Wingman comes in all black, red, and tangerine colors and even a camouflage pattern. Weighing roughly 1 1/2 lbs and featuring a razor-thin profile that lays flat on the body for improved range of motion, as well as mesh components that enable water to flow evenly through key points on the vest, the Wingman also has adjustable underarm locking clips, accessory compartments, and a fully integrated reinforced strap system that creates a balanced fit and allows stranded adventurers to be safely lifted out of the water.
What really makes this vest stand out though is the CO2 cylinder that is cleverly located on the back of the vest on a custom plate with the ripcord extending over the shoulder. “You reach for your heart and pull,” says Hughes.
Hyde’s innovative construction doesn’t end there … a patented Triple Bursting Zipper that makes repacking easier and an optional hydration pack accessory that can hold 1 1/2 liters of your preferred beverage round out this essential vest, which can be worn over Hyde’s compression base stretch tops or under their Surf Top Layer, a lightweight neoprene vest for those who want the pro look. Endorsed by a number of outdoorsman and water sports industry leaders, the Wingman system truly is “water safety re-imagined.”