Beaufort Survival Waistcoat

Beaufort have been supplying specialist survival equipment to the British military for many decades, specialising in life jackets and items for aircrew. Today we have an example of a sand coloured survival vest, procured for the RAF in the late 1980s:

This vest is designed to be worn over a flight suit and has a number of different pockets to carry survival equipment. The waistcoat was also procured in olive green, but seems to be more commonly available on the surplus market in the sand coloured version. The front of the waistcoat has a large, heavy duty, metal zip to secure it up the front:

The pockets are sewn to the lower front of the waistcoat and have black suede reinforcing on the bottom of the lower examples:

The same black suede is used to form a small pistol holster, the top flap securing with two lift the dot fasteners:

I am not sure what pistol this is designed to hold, I have tried a Browning Hi-Power (the standard British side arm of the period) in it, but it is two large to fit.

Further pockets are sewn to the shoulders:

Additional large velcroed pockets for items such as documents and maps are fitted to the inside of the waistcoat:

The rear of the vest is left pretty open, presumably to make it more comfortable to wear when seated in a cockpit:

The sizing of the vest can be adjusted with a pair of straps and friction buckles on the back:

Finally there is a mysterious piece of ‘loop’ Velcro sewn to the back left shoulder:

Quite what this was meant to be used for is unclear. There is the usual large and informative Beaufort label sewn to the interior of the waistcoat:

A stamped date of September 1988 can just be made out and this is most likely the date the waistcoat was manufactured. This vest has clearly ben issued and used, but I have struggled to find any pictures of British personnel wearing them, or indeed an idea of exactly what survival kit they are meant to carry.


  1. The pistol this vest was for is the Walther PP, issued to RAF Fast Jet Aircrew of that era.
    The webbing loop is to haul/drag the aircrew in a rescue situation.

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