Disclaimer: I am not interested in another debate pro/con air vests. Really, I'm not.
LMGP has finally reached her full height, and I need to get her a new xc vest. Mr. GP has asked me to get her an air vest, too. (I wear one.) They now have "integrated" vests that are both a conventional vest on the underside and an air vest. This is cheaper, and combines the functions--but they haven't been around very long.
When I got a new vest last year I contemplated getting one of the combo vests. The lady at the tack store said that she usually recommends that the girls get a vest and air vest separately. She said that the combos don't seem to fit the girls as well.
I have a regular vest and an air vest. Its not that much more trouble and its nice to just wear the regular vest if I want to wear it at home if my horse has had a few days off or something without having to wear the whole package.
I guess my gut feeling is that separate we have more options. I didn't think of fit, but that makes sense, too. And as someone who nearly forgot to unhook while making a last-minute dash to the portapotty in warmup, I appreciate the "oops!" argument.
In all honesty, given the legal issues between P2 and Helite, I would avoid any P2 product until things get sorted. We do not know who owns what and if Helite (original owner of all the patents on airvests, not just the inflation mechanism) will support the current combined vest or even current P2 vests.
i vote separate. my logic was that i won't be surprised when air vest technology changes, but i really don't expect the basic body protector to change much- i'd rather only have to replace one in the future. also, having seen a P2, P2 hybrid, and hit air all inflated side by side, the P2 offered the best coverage, hit air second, and hybrid had the least coverage. it definitely didn't stabilize the neck as well.
also, as a previous poster said, if the air vest goes off you can just take it off and continue- i've done this out xc schooling. much easier than falling off and having to deal with the cartridge on top of correcting the naughty baby. just toss the air vest to my ground person and keep going
My son tried the hybrid and didn't like it. He also tried a Tipp with a Point 2 and hated that combo. I thought that would be the one he liked! He ended up with a Charles Owen and Hit Air, it was the least bulky and most comfortable/light. So, my advice is to go somewhere that carries lots of different vests and try on every one in the store. If that isn't possible, order from somewhere with a generous return policy because it is truly hard to "guess" what is going to fit and be the most comfortable!
I agree that seperate is best. We were all hyped up on the combo until we really started thinking about various scenarios. One thing we thought of is that we orginally thought he would like the Point 2 best and that one needs to be serviced once a year (Hit Air might, I'll have to check his) and it would be nice to have the standard one to wear alone. Also, if he popped off in warm up or walking to the start box he could just take off the air vest and keep going.
I tried on one of the "hybrids" and didn't like it. Very stiff and constraining.
I agree with Toadie's Mom, I was intrigued by the idea of a hybrid until i tried one on at a tack shop and quickly changed my mind. I felt so constricted! I couldn't imagine wearing it around a xc course!!