We know you’re a pretty strong swimmer, but if you’re on the water this summer, chances are good you’ve got to comply with some sort of state regulation and wear a life vest anyway. Nobody likes it, but laws like this exist for a reason, so you might as well make the best of the situation and pick yourself up a vest that’s comfortable, functional, and well-suited for whatever activity you’re engaging in. No matter what kind of aquatic adventure you’re planning, you’ll find a good vest for the occasion in this roundup.
Made for kayaking, rafting, and pretty much any whitewater discipline you can think of, the Kokatat Maximus is designed to provide plenty of buoyancy without restricting your range of motion. It’s got nice wide arm holes, adjustable flotation panels, and a side entry design that makes it easy to get in and out of. As far as materials go, the vest is constructed from 500 denier Cordura outer shell and filled with Gaia PVC-free foam.
If you’re on a vessel that requires you wear a personal floatation device at all times, but you aren’t really planning on getting in the water unless the ship capsizes (a deep-sea fishing trip, for example), then there’s no reason to wear a bulky, uncomfortable life jacket. The Onyx A/M 24 is a low profile automatic/manual floatation device that’ll stay uninflated and out of the way until you need it. As soon as you hit the water or pull the ripcord, the vest puffs up and keeps your noggin above the surface.
Planning on reeling in some river monsters this summer? If so, we advise getting your hands on a fisherman’s floatation vesst like the Onyx Pro Caster. That way, when you finally hook into that giant guppy and get yanked out of your boat, he’ll only take your bait, not your life. Designed with anglers in mind, the Pro Caster is built with 200 denier nylon ripstop fabric to withstand snags and tear, as well as an assortment of pockets for carrying extra tackle and supplies.
Believe it or not, this life vest is actually designed for freedivers. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Why the hell would a diver want a floatation device strapped to his chest? Well the Revival Vest is a bit different – it’s not so much a floatation device as it is a personal emergency rescue system. Designed to prevent divers from drowning after shallow water blackouts, the vest features embedded sensors that monitor the wearer’s vitals, and will only inflate when it suspects the user has lost consciousness.
Ronix specializes in high test wakeboarding gear, and their life vests are some of the best in the biz. The One is an impact jacket – a floatation vest designed to cover your entire torso and make it suck less when you fail to land that 360 and go skipping across the surface of the lake. The vest’s exterior features a completely waterproof polyurethane shell, and incorporates Ronix’s Cat Guard technology to keep the vest from getting waterlogged during long riding sessisons.
Not digging any of these fabulous flotation devices? When all else fails, you could always give your friends a lesson in stunting and throw on a pair of water wings.
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