Gear Review: North Water Guides Vest

Saturday, 29 September 2007
North Water Guides Vest I was very excited recently when North Water Paddlesports Equipment sent me the guides vest recently to try out. Several of my friends have been using them for a couple of seasons now so I have looking forward to actually using it for some time.
To get PFD's certified by the government, the manufacture must design it to meet specific bouncy standards. When a manufacture decides to add pockets or accessories, they also need to increase the bouncy in the jacket to compensate for the potential increased weight (water in pockets, accessories, etc.). Generally speaking, the more pockets and storage on a PFD, the bulkier and cumbersome it is.

A nice workaround is to get a basic pfd that fits comfortably and wear over top the North Water Guides Vest.

The guides vest was designed for paddlers who are looking for a solution to carry all their essentials in a self-contained system.

North Water Guides Vest - BackThere are plenty of pockets to keep everything organized and close at hand. The main body of the vest is made from a mesh fabric that is strong yet cool in the wind during hot days. The VHF pocket puts the radio right in front of you so it is accessible in an emergency when you need it most. I did have to make a minor modification. I found that the flexible rubber antenna on my VHF was to close to my face for comfort. I just attached a small plastic clip that brought the antenna closer to my shoulder. Problem solved.

  I also really appreciated the large pocket at the back to hold a hydration pack. Unlike other hydration packets on the market specifically designed to attach to PFD's, the Guides Vest rear pocket is wide enough to also accommodate several large waterproof flares as well as a small hydration bag.

Another feature that I really enjoy is the interrogated tow belt. I quickly added a pig tail to the belt and I have a fantastic quick tow line ready to go. The quick release front buckle is a similar system to what you would find on whitewater rescue vests though slightly scaled back.

For discerning paddlers who are looking for a product to keep your safety gear (and lip balm) organized and close at hand, consider the North Water Guides Vest. Of the 7 close paddlers who I know who use it, 6 said they would never go back. The 7th guy is just a grump and we don't talk to him. Don't tell him I said that...

More Info: North Water

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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