Retail Buyers Guide: Wakeboarding Impact Vests 2019
Brand: Ride Engine
Interviewee: Jeff McKee –Brand Manager
Are your designing crash jackets for a wake market segment, eg boat/wake park/surf/ skate. Or is the same design being sold over the whole market? Which market is giving you the most growth. Which market is giving you the most direction in terms of the design and look of your crash jackets?
At Ride Engine our focus is high-quality jackets for the park. Wake Parks are by far the most exciting opportunity for growth in the wake segment with new locations opening left and right in some of the coolest locations around the world. We take our design input from the most credible athletes in wake park riding including the X Games Real wake champs Shredtown (USA) and Felix Georgii (Germany).
Style / Look
Over the last 2 to 3 years the market has seen crash jackets change in their appearance, in terms of an element of fashion entering the end look. What style is your brand aiming for, what is the process of determining what your crash jackets look like?
Our goal with Ride Engine is to make vests that riders are proud to wear…If they are covering the jacket with a t-shirt, we’re likely doing something wrong. The vests are low profile with a classic cut and styling. The don’t crowd the neck or rub near the arms, allowing riders to feel free on the water without constraint due to design imperfections. #zeroturtleneckvibes
Fit / Feel / Protection
What trends are you seeing in terms of fit, feel and protection in your crash jackets? What do you think your customers want and what has worked well for you in terms or fit, feel protection. For example, do end users want a thicker more protected crash jacket at a wake park (as they fall onto solid features at 20mph) or do people want as flexible as possible?
We find our team of testers prefer to keep their vests as streamlined and low profile as possible. There’s a certain degree of desire for flotation and impact protection, but above all the priority is freedom. With Ride Engine vests, we spend the majority of our design time ensuring we select the best materials available to deliver all three.
Tech / USP
What technology or materials are using in your crash jackets to give you a unique selling point?
Ride Engine was founded on the idea of building more Eco-friendly products and solving problems for the water-sports we love. The biggest problem we found in the wake market was that mot impact vests were too restrictive, and the styling was less than desirable – the reason for the start of the t-shirt trend. Riders were removing the padding from their jackets to achieve the comfort level desired and then covering them with a t-shirt to hide the overly “loud” stylings. We feel we solved both problems and did so through the use of materials like Limestone neoprene – A much more elastic neoprene with far less impact on the environment. Wear them proud!
How do your team riders influence your soft good offering? Do they have signature soft goods, do they help with design, do you suggest ideas to you, etc?
Absolutely. Both our Shredtown and Felix vests were designed by the riders themselves. Creating new products with fresh ideas from the most innovative riders is our favourite part of the process. We try new cuts, new lengths, and new materials to be sure the end result is a one of a kind product – not just some standard template from a china factory that you slap a logo overtop of!
Tell us about your 2 key Crash Jackets
Shredtown Vest – Black
The Shredtown Pro is custom designed by the most recognized group of athletes in the wake, the Shredtown Crew. This stylish and fully-functional impact vest offers a boost of floatation and invaluable protection from the splat landings and collisions with hard obstacles that are mandatory with this hard-charging crew of riders. Custom designed by the Shredtown Crew, this vest is constructed with high-grade limestone neoprene and is not treated with chemicals or hydrophobic coatings that wash off over time.
The NEW 360-degree drop tail skirt fights belly-shirt and plumber vibes and also helps to secure the vest around the riders waist. Ride in style and at ease with RE water goods!
The Felix vest was born out of the desire for a thinner, more flexible impact vest than any other in the Ride Engine lineup. With 1.5 mm of neoprene throughout the vest, it houses 11 individual pieces of ultra-thin foam to provide flotation, protect against impact and keep the rider feeling as agile as possible. If you’re lucky, you may even win the X-Games in this vest, just like Felix!
We also chose the longer length to keep you looking tough on the dock and avoid all conversations about “inny” vs. “outty” belly buttons – a common topic in the world of Felix before the invention of his pro model vest.