Float On We review four upwardly mobile PFDs
Four of the latest offerings to keep your favorite boater afloat. The MTI Adventurewear is designed for women while the NRS Chinook will make any kayak fisherfolk happy. For you whitewater rats check out the Kokatat and Extrasport offerings.
Kokatat Ronin Pro ($199, kokatat.com)
Kokatat stuffed all the features the river pro needs—like type V flotation (made from PVC-free Gaia foam) and an internal rescue harness—into the stylie, low-profile shape playboaters crave. To Kokatat’s credit, the Ronin also fits exceptionally well and provides valuable paddling for the ribs and spine. Two roomy front pockets stash pulleys and prusiks, while a stretchy side holster keeps a tow tether tangle-free. The whole package comes wrapped in rugged Cordura material and could be the last vest you’ll ever buy. At just under two bills, we hope so.
NRS Chinook ($75, nrsweb.com)
The super light Chinook fishing PFD provides a comfortably minimalist fit for unimpeded casting, while the mesh lower back keeps you cool—and doesn’t interfere with the high-backed seats found on many fishing kayaks. An array of expanding fly-box pockets spill out of the ripstop nylon exterior, and four zippered compartments keep everything you need close at hand when the big one bites.
The slick, side-entry Gauge sports more than a new space-age visage. Tug on two side straps to dial in the fit of the entire vest. The system is far simpler and easier to use than the myriad of straps and buckles found on most PFDs. Extrasport’s layered Glide Fit foam flexes at key points, requiring little break-in time. Extras like a hydration sleeve and an inner fleece hand pouch round out this vest constructed from Gaia foam—as forward-thinking as it is futuristic.
MTI Adventurewear PFDiva
The (female) MTI Adventurewear staffers have come to a shocking conclusion: women’s chest sizes vary. They created the PFDiva with its aptly named Adjust-a-bust fit system—ultrasoft memory foam pads that slide into small pockets—to customize cup size. And the back panel’s narrower cut—inspired by sports bras—allows excellent shoulder motion. That innovation drove the technical development of the men’s line, not the other way around, making the PFDiva a rare piece of women-specific gear that’s not just a pink version of the guys’ toys.