When we at PL took our kids for a late season sea kayak trip on Washington’s San Juan Island, we figured what better place to test two new kids’ PFDs from MTI? Throw on a Class I-II float down the Colorado immediately afterward (the day before school), and the testing grounds – er, waters – were complete.
Both passed with flying colors – especially when the testers hurled themselves off the 25-foot cliffs below the Radium hot springs. No shoulder-rise, no slippage, and easy haul handles to get them back on board the raft (albeit a bit cold).
When it arrived at our office, the Youth Reflex ($49.99) set off an instant reflex for our kids to grab it and fight over it. A stylish step up from a basic kids vest, it’s based on the popular adult version of the same name, only truncated for those who wear smaller trunks. It’s for kids 5-10, weighing 50- 90 lbs., and fits them snug as a bug.
While they didn’t swim in it in the Northwest’s frigid waters, it stayed on tight during two half-day paddles, and didn’t rise to the cheek-chafing level or restrict them from helping propel the craft (whatever help that was). Made from 420-denier nylon and soft foam, it comes with four side-compression straps and two adjustable shoulder straps for matching a child’s growth. When our kids tested it swimming in the Colorado, the straps held the jacket firmly in place, even after a knee-shaking plunge off a 25-foot cliff. It’s available in red or mango (the color our kids fought over). Info: www.mtiadventurewear.com
The Youth Discovery ($69.99) ups the ante with the performance features of a premium adult jacket, fit for kids. Soft foam and a kid-tough Cordura shell provide comfort and style, while four side-compression straps and two adjustable shoulder straps and a waist keep it fitting snug. It also comes with two large mesh pockets so they can store their own snacks and sunscreen (hallelujah!), or things they pick up along the way like shells, snakes, rocks and sticks.
Available only mango, it also comes with reflective tape panels on the front so you’ll always know where they are (except, of course, at dinner time). www.mtiadventurewear.comInfo: