Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Storm Rider YAK PFD

I'm really excited about getting my first kayak this weekend (more on that later) and that reminded me that I had not yet covered the Personal Flotation Devices that I tried out when I did a trial of the Aquayak - Snapper PRO. When you're out on the water, a flotation vest is just as crucial part of your loadout as a bump-helmet or your shark-stabbing, line-cutting knife (ok, perhaps that is a stretch).

It's PPE of the most basic kind.

In this case, I was lent a StormRider YAK PFD by the good folks at AquaYak and I wanted to show you what made it an essential part of my time out on the Snapper PRO.

These very solidly constructed vests consists of three components; the two front panels and a back panel. It features open sides with adjustable webbing to ensure a good fit, whilst giving you freedom of movement for paddling and water-borne activity.

The back panel also featured a drying hook, with a built-in nylon D-ring
The webbing attaching the front panels to the back are fixed at the shoulder and at two points on the flanks. Between these three points, the harness is highly adjustable, even down to to my light frame.

It might seem strange that the front of the vest is -not- adjustable, its three Fastex clasps hold the front panels but this in fact provides an important safety aspect. By massing the buoyant material at the front, when in the water, this holds your head up and out, ensuring the best  position for breathing. 

The brightly coloured exterior of the vest allows for easy search and rescue in the event you are lost due to capsizing, or bad weather, but you'll note that the insides are black, an unintentional asset if being less visable is desirable. Both front panels comes fitted with several zipperable pockets. The use of mesh and the water-shedding nylon in the pockets, as with the rest of the construction gave not only a number of ways to store important gear, but also to do so in a quick drying and draining fashion.

I found this very useful, as I dunked myself several times whilst in the kayak.

I was really impressed to note that the zippers were all of noncorroding plastic.

An inner retention lanyard provides an even more secure option for survival, signalling or orientation gear.

I stored my iPhone in its SLXtreme waterproof case, my car keys and the like whilst testing, all held snugly and safely.

I also noted that there was a more subdued OD and coyote-brown version of the vest, which I think will be my personal selection.

I've worn PFD's before, as well as SCUBA Buoyancy Control Device, and I really liked the simplicity, and design of this one.

You put it on, strap it to fit, and can all but forget about it when out and about on the water. In an emergency situation, you want to have the best equipment on hand to protect yourself and others from the environmental hazards you will be facing. A well made, worn and maintained PFD is a must for any kind of action on the water you might be facing.

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