Astral Buoyancy Camino
Talk about cool. Astral’s new Camino is a full-back version of the company’s popular V-Eight vest. The ridiculously light (1 lb., 6 oz.) PFD features a back and two front vents so that rec, whitewater and SUP paddlers don’t overheat, plus a slimmer waste. The Camino is constructed according to Astral’s enviro-friendly ethos, using recyclable PE foam. The result is an Earth-friendly and easy-breathing PFD ($109, astralbuoyancy.com).
Kokatat Ronin Pro
Wave warriors rejoice in the Ronin Pro, with a trimmed-down profile and an internal harness. The fit is secure and comfortable, thanks to the offset, zippered front entry. A favorite of Canadian paddlers since 2007 and Euroboaters since 2008, the Ronin Pro is now certified for the U.S. market. Whitewater and ocean paddlers will revel in the full spinal and rib protection, and the integrated sleeve for a small tow tether means swimmers in need will be stoked as well. Reinforced and padded, adjustable, thermal-molded foam shoulders with non-slip Hypalon panels ensure this Type V rescue vest stays in place ($215, kokatat.com).
MTI PFDiva and Solaris F-Spec
Hey ladies, get your fish on with MTI’s PFDiva F-Spec (right), the only female-specific fishing vest on the market. With a unique Adjust-a-Bust pad system, the cut is ideal for ladies who live to land lunkers. The F-Spec boasts 16 lbs., 5 oz., of floatation, a lure box sleeve, a pocket that folds down drawbridge-like for a rigid work surface and a D-ring for a light strobe when catfish call. The new (unisex) Solaris F-Spec also includes a mesh high-back design for comfort in the seat (PFDiva F-Spec $120, Solaris F-Spec $75, mtiadventurewear.com).
Big descents require ample protection. Wrap it up with the Stohlquist Descent that fits tight to your torso. An articulated midsection, six adjustment points, plus self-tensioning shoulders (padded, and textured as rugged as a truck bed) mean a snug and mobile fit-and extra protection in the river or lugging your boat to it. Improving on 2001′s classic X-traxt jacket, the Type V Descent is as tough they come (500-denier Cordura shell) and ready to outfit with rescue accessories beyond its quick-release harness belt, like new compatible throwbags or a self-inflating air bladder for the expansive front pocket, adding another 5 lbs. of buoyancy (to 17) for those emergency moments. Don’t need the floatation? The mesh front of the pocket holds your canned beverage of choice (199, stohlquist.com).
Conjure your inner sensei with the NRS Ninja. Drop-kick 16.5 pounds of floatation on your next swim after slipping this baby on with the slick pullover entry while two shoulder and side adjustments guarantee a sleek fit. A front pocket has room for safety extras like a river knife and whistle, plus the front, floating panel comes with a cozy spot to warm your hands when you need to meditate next to a cold rapid ($119, nrsweb.com).
Lightweight, unobtrusive and comfy, the Hobie Inflatable turns into a lifesaver in a moment’s notice. When you’re out on the fish ‘yak, mobility is key. But when the sea turns into a monster and dumps you in the drink, self-inflate this low-profile vest into a life shield with 29 lbs. of flotation. The horseshoe-shaped vest buckles in the back, allowing free movement for casting and paddle strokes ($119, hobiekayaks.com).