After 6 years of paddling with a Kokatat MsFit Tour it was time to look for a new life jacket (aka PFD).
The MsFit Tour served me well but there were just a few little things that slightly annoyed me.
Instead of replacing the MsFit with an updated version of the same I went for the OutFit Tour, the men's version.
So what's the difference/impovement between the two jackets?
The MsFit (yellow) is designed specifically for women even tho a lot of guys fit that PFD well.
The pocket arrangement is similar but the position of those is slightly different.
The OutFit locates the pockets more towards the centre of the chest while the MsFit has the pockets slightly more to the sides.
I find that the new OutFit clears my arms better than the MsFit for my relatively low stroke paddling.
The side pockets on the new OutFit have two zippered compartments and they are just big enough to carry my compact camera so it's always accessible while paddling.
On the MsFit the camera would occasionally interfere with my paddling.
On the OutFit the pocket designed to house a VHF radio is now totally in the centre of the chest. I would not know if that is a better position since I don't carry a VHF there (not enough room to contain a dry-bagged radio).
Inside the front zippered opening there is a pocket for flares or a strobe light.
The shoulder straps have remained mainly unchanged and the heat moulded foam still pads the top excellently. The excess from the adjustment webbing is perfectly tucked into it's own sleeve and there is no annoying flapping of webbing hitting my face in a breeze.
There is no pocket on the back for a water bladder since Kokatat prefers to offer it as an add-on. I find carrying water on my shoulders a nuisance (and tiring) and I prefer to stow it below deck with a drinking hose.
rescue knife lashing point has now a neat pocket to prevent catching it inadvertedly
The torso length on the OutFit is longer and while it fits me well I think that paddlers with a short torso would be better served by the MsFit.
The fabric is first class Cordura (the real deal, not a look-alike). This high tenacity fabric has proven to be extremely abrasion resistant in my backpacks and works just as well in salt water.
All the webbing is bar-tacked making a pull-out a rarity. Friends I paddle with also have Kokatat PFDs and so far no webbing failures.
What has failed in one jacket is the fabric fraying in one seam where the edge of the fabric has pulled out. It didn't compromise the jacket but a few stitches saved the fabric of unravelling further.
I try to keep my life jacket free from mould by rinsing it in fresh water after every outing. A salty jacket left in a warm and humid place like Queensland attracts moisture (hygroscopic effect of salt) leading to deterioration of the fabric by mildew growth.
I also avoid using greasy type sun block cream that seems to make the matter worse around the face/neck area (real grunge mouldy look). I prefer using a UV blocking sunscreen that is clear liquid and leaves no residue on my clothing or PFDs.
I never use my jacket as a padding to seat on at the beach or camp. Closed cell foam does get compressed by the body weight (even more so in my "hefty" case) making the jacket less buoyant.
Last but not least I don't consider my life jacket a Xmas tree. Adorning my PFD with all the possible gadgets and trinkets would make it hardly positively buoyant offering me very little help when I would need it most: keep me afloat!
PS before some readers get their panties in a bundle again may I point out that this review involved no "free samples" from Kokatat, no money into my Swiss Bank account and even less no free services from an escort agency. Geez, somebody at least buy me beer...
Yep, bought the PFDs with my own dow and nobody prompted me to write this. So, free samples or not, why do I bother to write this shit? coz I like this gear and somebody else might benefit from my review.
PSS sorry, the above was uncalled for... or was it :-)