NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD

by  NRS

NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD Description

The NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD is our foundational front-entry jacket with high-back flotation to accommodate most kayak seats and low-back mesh for warm-weather ventilation.

NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD Specs and Features

  • Material Description: 400-denier ripstop nylon

Additional Attributes

  • 400 denier nylon fabric construction ensures durability through seasons of wear and tear.
  • The high-back design fits comfortably against most high-back kayaking seats and the mesh lower allows for ventilation on warm days.
  • Two large zippered pockets, a lashtab, and 3M reflective accents throughout for low-light visibility.
  • Six adjustment points for a customizable fit and front-entry zipper for easily slipping the jacket on and off.
  • The NRS Clearwater is a type III, medium-profile life jacket delivering 16.5 pounds of flotation and carries the US Coast Guard Certification through testing by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD Reviews

Read reviews for the NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD by NRS as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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Much has been mentioned…

Submitted by: Seemann on 4/29/2021

Much has been mentioned about this jacket. The most critical thing is fit, if it doesn’t fit you, it won’t be comfortable and secure. I bought a new Clearwater just last month at full price (darn Mr. Covid squeeze). The fit was perfect for my body type, it is comfortable and does the job. I haven’t stress tested it yet but I won’t be doing it in a while because this will go on with the recreational kayaking.

All the best for the season!

Happy Paddling!


NRS knows its business. I'm…

Submitted by: tundrawalker on 12/28/2020
NRS knows its business. I'm actually a canoeist, not a kayaker. I wanted to find the Ninja, but 2020 provided a hurdle to that. This was for sale about 60 miles away for $50. An older gentleman had used it twice, but you couldn't tell by looking. Comfortable vest with thick but well-placed flotation. Doesn't interfere with canoe strokes a bit. The vest could use more attachment points, as others stated, but it is otherwise well-built and well-designed. The straps could make the L/XL fit anyone. I'm 5-7, 170.

I've had my Clearwater PFD…

Submitted by: monstor on 8/2/2016
I've had my Clearwater PFD for 5 years now and I will retire it in a few months. It is my first has been a great one to use in my novice paddling days. If the pockets hold up it will be with me at Lumpy Waters until I upgrade to a cVest.

I cannot add much technical detail to what "anave26" said previously [below], but offer my experience with it.

I'm 5'10, 200lb and barrel chested. This jacket in an XL fits me perfectly with everything from a thin rash guard to as dry-suit with 2 insulating layers under it. I always make sure the front is secure around my waist/gut. The waist & rib adjustments are easy to make, but not as easy as the NRS Ninja series, compared to some other jackets I have borrowed that sell in the same price range.

My experience with it is on slow moving rivers, lakes, pools, and once on SF Bay at the gate. I've worn it in temps from 34F to 105F. It stayed flexible and form fitting when cold. The mesh back is wonderful when the temps are high.

I paddle sea kayaks. I started in a Prijon Touryak, which has a high back deck a seat that protrudes slightly above the cockpit rim, so the mesh back/high flotation was a great fit for the boat and did not interfere with me learning aft finishing rolls or reclining for a quick rest.

I've been in the water with this PFD almost every time I've paddled, mostly practicing self rescues. It stays out of the way during aft finishing rolls. I'm still working on consistent forward finishing rolls, but it is also comfortable when I practice those. I've also taken a swim off a power boat in it amidst a small storm of wakes & wind waves on a lake. It did its job and kept my head out of the water with minimal added support from my arms.

My only issues with this PFD are:
-The lack of a structured lash point. I mounted my knife on the rear shoulder via the beacon loop.
-The Velcro pockets. While they have ample storage, I feel they open too easily. The stitching on the hook side of the Velcro started coming out in the 2nd year I had the jacket. That may be because I had not learned any rolls and prefer a cowboy scramble for self rescue; I definitely stressed the front of the vest.

I would buy it again, but I like the zippered pockets on the cVest, which is like the mesh-backed Clearwater, only with tougher nylon and improved storage.

This style of PFD is a good choice if:
-You have a high back deck and/or tall seat - mine was
-You heat up quick and benefit from venting on the sides and your back - I do
-Your PFD budget is under $100 - mine was
-You are a novice or recreational paddler and do not need your jacket storage to be secured with zippers - this was me when I started.


First off, a little about me…

Submitted by: Anave26 on 8/12/2015
First off, a little about me (Since what you really want to know is 'is this thing going to fit me?'). I'm 6'6" (198cm) and 230lbs (105Kg) I'm in reasonable shape (swimmers body, minimal gut) and a chest size of 48inch (122cm).

First off, fit and comfort: There are numerous adjustable straps on the vest, including shoulder straps which is the reason I decided to give it a try, being long in the torso I was having difficulty finding a vest that didn't sit too high on my chest. As it turns out the NRS Clearwater Mesh back is a great solution. I'm able to adjust the vest for a perfect fit that doesn't get in my way, is super comfortable and doesn't ride up even when it is yanked up by the shoulders. Add to that, the rear flotation is high on the shoulders and combined with the mess back it stays relatively cool and doesn't interfere with any seat I've sat in (even my high back) which makes it very comfortable.
Rating A+

Performance: Doesn't float me particularly high in the water but then it is a Type III PFD, it isn't necessarily suppose to and it does it's job well enough. It keeps my head and chin clear of the water, not really sure what more you can ask for.
Rating A.

Storage: The two large pockets on the front are plenty big enough for an emergency fire stater, compass, small survival kit... or snacks and the Velcro keeps everything in place with out any really hassle in access. Several small loops on the vest make a great place to secure an emergency whistle. This is definitely not a fisherman's vest but then it never claimed to be. The only real weakness (and the reason for 9 rather than 10 stars) is there is no convenient place to secure a river knife, you end up having to attach it to a side or shoulder strap, neither of which is exactly ideal... even so,
rating: B+

Durability: It seems well constructed, but I haven't had mine for long so all I can say is it's been great so far. Used it twice in the last week. A short test in the pool when it arrived and a 3 hour trip down the river.
Rating: Time will tell.

I guess that is pretty much it. The price is reasonable, about $80.00 - $90.00 USD for an XXL version and it will do its job and help keep you alive if you go for a swim. It even has enough storage to carry a few tools with you if the worst should happen and you sink you Yak in the middle of no where. I highly recommend this PFD.


Purchased the Mesh Back PFD…

Submitted by: paddler235867 on 8/21/2014
Purchased the Mesh Back PFD and found it was extremely comfortable. The floatation material on the back is high enough that it is above the seatback, so does not push you forward or provide any painful pressure points. The mesh back also keeps my back from sweating. I frequently paddled for several hours straight, so having a PFD that is comfortable and cool is extremely important. Purchased a second NRS PFD for my wife that is designed for women and she also loves it!

This is my second season with…

Submitted by: SKP on 7/17/2014
This is my second season with my red NRS Clearwater PFD. I absolutely love how adjustable it is. You have several straps that you can adjust for a perfect fit. This current season I put it on, and realized that since last season I must have put on some weight. No problem, I just readjusted the straps and was ready to go. I love the big pockets in the front. One pocket has a little loop inside, which makes it easy to loop the cord to my whistle preventing it from going overboard. I also like the mesh back, it keeps me cool, and I can lay backward on the deck without the jacket in the way. That does mean that there is more flotation around your neck and shoulders, but it doesn't interfere with movement, though it can make your shoulders and the back of your neck a bit warmer.
Over all, the PFD is worth the price.

I have been kayaking for a…

Submitted by: paddler185490 on 7/19/2013
I have been kayaking for a little over a year and my first kayaking PFD purchase was a NRS Clearwater. I tried several brands on before making my purchase, but I am glad I choose the Clearwater.

There are several things I like about this PFD. First is the comfort. I can wear this PFD for hours at a time without any issues. It has a comfortable mesh back and is extremely adjustable for a secure fit. Secondly, I like the outer material. The material dries quickly and the blue color looks very good in my opinion. Lastly, the PFD has two large pockets on the front for storing things such as snacks and paddling gloves. I am very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend this PFD.


My husband and I both bought…

Submitted by: paddler234733 on 8/24/2012
My husband and I both bought the charcoal color. As soon as they were delivered we tried them on and adjusted them. I was amazed at the comfort of this PFD as well as the quality. Both PFDs fit my husband and me like a glove. The adjustability of them is fantastic, and the ability to move freely while wearing it is priceless. I love how large both the front pockets are. And again, I love how comfortable this PFD is, this PFD doesn't ride up when you sit down, which is very important in my opinion.
I would recommend it to friends, and I would buy another in a heartbeat

Being a bigger guy (6'3" 250)…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/30/2010
Being a bigger guy (6'3" 250) I was having a hard time finding a decent pfd that fit me well without being stuck half way up my torso. So I took a chance and ordered the NRS Clearwater sight unseen (45 something from, and I must say I'm very pleased.
  • Good range of motion in the boat
  • Flotation is high on the back so as not to interfere with the seat back
  • This thing seems infinitely adjustable and I imagine you could cinch down the XXL to fit just about any adult in a pinch
  • I'm giving it an 8 because it could use a few more attachment points (no where on the front for my fixed blade)
  • You can unzip the front and leave the bottom buckle buckled if your a little too warm
  • My knife does seem to mount nicely on the adjustment straps on the side of the pfd under either arm.
All in all, a solid PFD that keeps me floating without being stuck around my chest.
NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD
by NRS