Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hands On: Stohlquist Wedge-e PFD

Many of the best designed and most reliable life vests on the market for the sailor are not made for specifically for sailing. PFD's from companies that make products for rafting, river running, and kayaking tend to be options we have to choose from. Lucky for us the many of the same principles that drive the whitewater designers (mobility, adjustable form fit, lightweight...)  also apply to our sport. The Stohlquist Wedge-e is a great example of an paddling company designing a multi-sport vest that sailors can get into.  


The GOOD:
Putting the vest on for the first time I immediately notice the fit: very trim and contoured with the top of the collar stopping in the middle chest. I can roll my neck all the way around and not touch the shoulder straps or back and front collar. The Wedge-e has a compressive feel and is lighter than I expected. The buoyancy foam is not segmented so it bends around the shape of your torso, I like this feature because it allows for more compression under a pinny or rash guard. The zippering system aids in wrapping the vest comfortably around your body. I also noticed how thick the neoprene shoulder straps are so that they protect your skin from the adjustable webbing and for a more comfortable fit.

The BAD:
Mesh. Mesh is used under the side adjustment straps and as a front pocket. Mesh netting is great for allowing air flow and draining water, BUT mesh also has an uncanny ability to catch things: pins, rings, crabs, screws. This is a small issue, but something to be wary of in tight spaces. Also some may find this style to be too snug for their liking, as noted in the GOOD section, it has a form fitting and compressive cut. Again only a minor complaint.


The CONCLUSION:
Overall I feel like this will prove to be a great dinghy vest. Acres of mobility combined with a contoured snug fit produces a comfortable and athletic sailing PFD. Price point is also key, at well under $100 the Wedge-e is a steal. Even with the close fit there is a decent amount of adjustable space to work with. I have been wearing the Wedge-e the whole time I wrote this blog and forgot it was on.  If you are looking for a low-profile, contour fit PFD this summer the Wedge-e is right up your ally.

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