GEAR,  Product Reviews


It might not be cheap, but the Swimboat is the Rolls Royce of flotation devices. Each one is handmade to order by a boat builder in Devon, and if you enjoy adventure swims with groups of friends then you will be hard-pushed to find a better designed bit of kit.

The Swimboat is the invention of a group of swimmers who needed a flotation device for long swims that would give good visibility at sea, carry enough equipment for a large number of swimmers and also act as a safety device. 

We tested the Swimboat in an estuary on the Dorset coast. Unfortunately the sea was too rough to see how it coped with heavy waves, but in calm water there was minimal drag and once swimming you didn’t feel as though you were pulling a great weight, even when fully laden. The boat is towed on a 10-metre length of floating rope attached to a waist harness; vigorous kickers might need to watch that they don’t get tangled up but we found that despite the weight of kit we were carrying our swimming wasn’t hampered by the boat.

The Swimboat isn’t for solo swimmers. It is designed to be used by a group and is perfect for a day out swimming or an overnight or weekend adventure with friends or family. Want to swim to an island and camp overnight? It has plenty of room for tent, sleeping bags, food and trangia. You could probably even fit the kitchen sink in its 100-litre storage space. 

At 1.4 metres long the Swimboat is a substantial bit of kit. It comes with shoulder straps that allow it to be worn like a rucksack and handles on both ends so it can also be carried by two people. Bright yellow, it has a detachable flag for greater visibility in open water. The large hatch is opened with easy to use catches (useful when your fingers are numb from the cold) and an easily accessible mesh pocket covers the front of the boat for storing bottles of water, cameras, gels etc.


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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.