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!
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, 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.
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.
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,
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.
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.