This jacket fits me very well and allows complete freedom to paddle. The high back doesn't interfere with my kayak's seat rest. Many adjustments for good fit and nice pockets.
In terms of fit, my chest measurement (36) put me into the M-L size according to the manufacturer's website; but the XS-S fits me better, due to my small back and ribcage. It does press in my chest a bit despite the strategically placed hollows; but if you're used to the feel of a sports bra that shouldn't be too bothersome unless you're really well-endowed.
- It comes in colors that aren't pink. Mine is blue.
- It fits well across the chest, back, and shoulders, and the straps make it very adjustable.
- It doesn't ride up and chafe my chin, which is a huge problem with some other PFDs on small women.
- It's got nicely-sized arm holes for good range of motion. This means paddling is easy, as are things like getting in and out of the boat, rotating to grab something behind the seat, stabilizing another boat for someone, etc.
- Zipper pockets allow for hand warming, or storage of small items (chapstick, etc.)
- Chafing. Even with something (shirt/tank/paddling neoprene vest) under this, I end up with chafing welts on the side of my neck, my sides where some of the webbing for the buckles hit, and the side and back where the PFD ends. The chafing is worst at the buckle webbing for me. The rest is just irritating, but this is actually a problem I am working to solve (or will get another PFD). It's not that the PFD is too tight or loose, because it doesn't seem to matter who I adjust it--if I wear it, it chafes. So, this is a bit of a big deal and the primary reason it only gets a 7.
- Hot. There's not a lot of meshing on this, so it can get pretty warm.
There aren't a lot of options for paddlers as small as I am. This is, so far, the best option I've found for my size and build. Because I am a woman, my body shape is wrong for a kid's vest, and this vest doe accommodate that. But, it's still a bit big, overall, even with the adjustment tightened all the way (hence, some of the chafing, I think)
It seems to me that all women's PFDs are a bit puffy in the bust. The Cruiser fits well for my average bust and does not make me feel like the michelin man. I wear this vest for both whitewater and for flat water kayaking. With both the high angle and the low angle paddling styles the Cruiser is a comfortable fit.
I also like that Stohlquist has bright colors for the Cruiser. I really like being visible. Great pockets. Nice little key clip in the pocket.
The Stohlquist Women's Cruiser is the only PFD I've ever owned (I've had several) that I could stand to wear for any length of time. This is mainly because it is cut low in the armpits for great freedom of movement. The women's cup shape really is comfortable. The foam is not bulky---it doesn't protrude out in front of you like many PFDs.
Adjustment is simple: you pull on two straps located on the front and they tighten up the whole PFD, with one additional waist adjustment.
The front zipper works very well. There is a patch on the back where you can attach a light.
I give this PFD an 8 instead of a 10 because I would like the pockets to be larger and I would like to have at least 2 D rings on the outside, not inside the pockets. There is only 1 D ring, inside a pocket.
Price is $90. That's steep, but I guess my life is worth $90. All previous life jackets were used as deck decorations. That could be why paddling.com has never published my photos---they set a bad safety example. Now I can paddle safely and in comfort!