Masterline XTC Floatation Suit - Save over 55%
Independent Review - Elton Murphy, Anglers Net
"Costs less than £40, keeps you warm and it looks good. Oh, and it might just save your life one day....
If you walked into a shop looking for a flotation suit and saw the Masterline XTC hanging up with a £40 price tag on it, I can almost guarantee that you would buy it. It's a great looking suit.
I wear my flotation suit a lot in the colder months, especially when fishing from the shore. If you've looked through the reviews on Anglers' Net, you'll have seen this one for my Fladen Flotation suit. As nice as that suit is, I haven't had the bottle to wear it when coarse fishing. I'm told that if I turned up on a carp lake in a fluorescent yellow suit, I'd soon be testing just how buoyant it really is! So, up until now, my cold-weather freshwater fishing has been made bearable with thermals, pocket warmers and hot coffee.
As you can no doubt see from the photo here, the Masterline XTC is predominantly dark green. It does have a couple of orange flashes and the highly reflective strips so that it can be seen at night, but you'll be glad it does if you ever fall in. Even the little whistle that comes with it would be much appreciated at that point.
A floatation suit provides buoyancy; it is not a lifejacket, but is designed to keep a swimmer afloat for longer than if he or she fell in wearing just normal clothes. I'm sure that some safety-aware people would love for all anglers to wear a lifejacket at all times, but apart from on boats, I just can't see it happening. If a few more people choose a flotation suit rather than a heavy coat after reading this article, then I may well have done my bit towards helping save a life one day. An added 50 Newtons of buoyancy certainly makes a difference.
However, most of us probably wouldn't buy a flotation suit 'just' because it might save our life one day, so we need to look at what the Masterline XTC offers as a piece of angling clothing....
The first thing it offers is instant warmth. A one-piece suit like this is a fantastically comforting item to wear on a cold day. You often hear people telling you to wear layers of clothing when it's cold outside, but give me a flotation suit every time! Being one-piece, it also offers great wind resistance. To aid this, it also has a high fleece-lined collar, a storm flap over the main zip and adjustable wraps on the cuffs and ankles. The hood is also lined and, when it's really windy, the stiffened peak cap comes in handy. The trouser pockets are also fleece lined, which is essential after you've just been baiting up. The only downside is that flotation suits do tend to start to whiff like old fish after a few sessions, as we spend so much time with our smelly hands in our pockets. If they went head-to-head, I'd say that my Fladen is probably the warmer of my two flotation suits, but it is also bulkier and not so easy to move in. The XTC allows for good manoeuvrability. At the time of writing, mind you, TackleBargains were also offering a thermal undersuit for just £18 extra when you buy the Masterline XTC. That would be well worth considering.
Strangely enough, most flotation suits don't claim to be waterproof, but most offer a good level of 'resistance'. I don't know what Masterline claim for the XTC, but it stands up to the rain pretty well. I haven't stood all day in a downpour in it that what umbrellas and beach shelters are for!
Another benefit of floatation suits is storage. With four fairly roomy sealable outside pockets, the XTC is more than capable of carrying all the essential bits and pieces you need to have to hand. When you're wearing a flotation suit, the chances are it's cold outside. Having everything to hand (and at body temperature) is even more useful than when it's warm. I generally carry all the bait elastic, hooks, trace line, forceps, tea towels, etc. that I need for a session in those four pockets....and still find space for a pair of gloves and a bob hat.
Most flotation suits are designed for sea use. They are brightly coloured to aid anyone trying to rescue you. The Masterline XTC offers all the other benefits of those suits, but without the bright colour. As I touched upon earlier in this article, this makes them more suited to inland fishing. This suit will definitely be used when I'm carp fishing at night, as I usually fish alone. Mind you, I would have no qualms about wearing this suit on the beach. In fact, the cod are due in very soon, so I think I will!"