In the never ending quest to find the perfect life jacket we're adding a new vest to our selection here at the shop. The Kokatat Orbit Tour life jacket is US Coast Guard approved and has a very minimalist design. It's perfect for sailors who place freedom of movement as their highest priority - especially in the arms and shoulders.
The Orbit Tour takes the less surface area with thicker foam approach - so the front and back panels are very small but thicker when compared to a vest like the Astral Norge.
The Tour has two sizeable pocket on the front - here they're holding a sunglasses case, a bottle of sunscreen and a Leatherman (and they do all fit). Otherwise it's very minimal - the reflective shoulder straps are adjustable with buckles that hide inside a neoprene pocket on the front. There are two adjustment straps on each side but none of the mesh or fabric pieces often found between the front and back.
The Orbit Tour is a pull-over style vest and features very grippy panels inside the vest to keep it from riding up. They work very well - to the point where they make the vest hard to pull on sometimes if you don't loosen the straps enough. I think the grip panels could be uncomfortable against the skin if you wear your life jacket without a shirt.
There's no question the Tour allows for a huge range of motion - I could swing my arms around and never feel the vest get in the way. I found it was very comfortable when sitting as well. The chest panel is thicker than my Lotus Lola jacket but I think I'd easily adjust to the difference.
When I brought this first Orbit Tour we received upstairs to write this review Aaron in customer service tried to take it out of my hands so he could keep it for himself. He's been wearing one for a couple years on Lasers and Lightnings and says there's nothing better.
I think this vest is great for dinghy sailors who want their shoulders free from mainsheet snagging buckles and no hindrances to their movement. For sport boat sailors it might be a little less comfortable to hike unless you get the lifeline below it (certainly possible if hiking M24 style). The Tour is certainly one of the smallest vests that is Coast Guard approved in terms of covered area.
If you need a new vest, particularly if you're looking for a minimal design the Orbit Tour is definitely worth a look.
Day-Late Update: Now with useful linkage to the product on our website -- Orbit Tour by Kokatat.