Its comftorable, adjustable, and has quite a few pockets to hold the necessities that you want with you when you turtle. Find a kayak shop and try on all of the ones they have till you find one that you like; Think I spent half of an afternoon trying on vests, then sitting in the kayaks with them till I found a comftorable one.
I am also looking for one for a kayak I just bought. I was wondering if most people used the manual inflating vests sold with the pockets and all for kayaking or one that has all the floatation padding already in the front. Anymore ideas? Thanks.
I like the kayak vests that are built for fishing with pockets on the front. I put my signal mirror, whistle, tackle and a small VHF radio. Wild River Outfitters in VB has a new vest coming out in the store in April, and it is really nice with built in hard pockets on the front. I think I paid $65 for mine, and have been pleased. It is very comfortable, and I don't have to worry about inflating it like the CO 2 ones if I flip.
THe co2 vest are not recommended by industry, because most of them are manual and you cannot inflate them if you are unconsious. There are some new fishing vest coming out by Stolequist and NRS. I really like the looks of the NRS fishing vest.
I used to use the Extrasport Eagle, but the back wasn't really compatible with my Hobie seat. It's a comfortable vest in the summer time when it's 95+ degrees with humidity near 100%. It's also a great vest for the boat, too, because I can almost forget I'm wearing it. I've since purchased an Extrasport Solstice, which has a slightly higher back but a thicker front. I don't think it's going to be as nice in the summer time. The pockets don't open as much, but I think they're more secure than the Eagle. I'm thinking of getting the new version of the Lotus Mildwater, but I haven't seen the back of it yet. I think it's called the Patagonia Mesh Back vest. I'd like to see that one in person. I've tried the CO2 ones and didn't like them because they put too much pressure on the back of my neck, but I seem to be the only guy with that complaint.
I don't want to derail Anthonys post, but I am also looking for a new vest.
I am looking for the highest quality I can find, and began looking at the SAR type vests.
Most of the SAR types have SOLAS trim, multiple pockets that can be used for carrying fishing or survival gear, and most include items such as radio and signal device attachment points.
I've looked at the Mustang Survival and Stearns vests, and both offer "comfort models" with mesh uppers, but I was wondering if the group here had other recommendations for paddling specific designs, as the Stearns and Mustang designs look to be bulky.
Kokatat seems to have several models that look like they might fit the bill, like this ProFit Tour model.
It's comfortable and has big pockets. I have an older model but the 2006 models look even better. I carry a VHF radio, digital camera, Powerbars and wetwipes in my pockets of the Solstice. Also, carry a diving knife and clippers on the PFD (see pic below).
I used to have the Lotus Rio Grande PFD. The pockets did not have much room in them compared to the Extrasport Solstice. Also I thought the Lotus Rio Grande was hot because it had alot floatation in the upper chest area. I also have an Extrasport Chica PFD which was originally designed for female paddlers. This is a very comfortable PFD to wear on those hot summer days because most of the floation is around the waist instead of the chest area. I find this design very cool because heat can escape from the chest area. However the Extrasport Chica only has one pocket. So I bought the Extrasport Solstice because of the bigger, roomier pockets. Though it has more floation in the chest area compared to the Extrasport Chica it does not have as much compared to my old Lotus Rio Grande and is still comfortable to wear on those hot humid summer days.