I use this PFD for fitness paddling on a surfski. It is comfortable, with mesh on the inside (and outside). The shoulder straps are adjustable. This jacket is side-entry with a side zipper, a small side buckle to protect the zipper from stress, and a "round-the body" velcro strap that you need to secure each time you put on the jacket.
Its buoyancy is apparently closed-cell foam. It uses thin sheets front and back combined with thicker blocks against the body. The blocks allow it to mold well to body shape, increasing comfort.
It has stowage pouches front and back, secured by slightly too small patches of velcro. I usually put some energy bars in the front pouch -- haven't used the back pouch yet, but it allegedly can hold a 2l bladder. I don't like that idea -- adding more weight to your upper body would make you less stable -- an issue for me using already pretty unstable surfskis.
*Note that this product is NOT approved by the USCG.*
Apparently, it costs a non-trivial amount to have it tested. Also, its ~13 pounds of buoyancy apparently doesn't meet the 15.5 pound standard for Type III PFDs. But rumor has it that this PFD is being redesigned, perhaps with an intention of meeting those standards (and perhaps getting them certified).
If I didn't use this PFD, what else would I consider?
- The New Zealand-based Hydraulics Race Pro (available in US at gearzone.com for $215)
- the South Africa-based Tripper Standard Jacket (if could find a US source therefor)
- the Gill Pro Racer (available multiple places for <$100)
- Kokatat Orbit Tour
- or the Astral Bouyancy Tempo200.
Overall, I'm really pretty happy with this PFD.