The Kokatat Guide PFD
is a unisex "Type V" rescue PFD designed around the requirements of a professional kayaker / guide / expedition. It incorporates a swimming harness and rescue belt, reinforced shoulders, durable Cordura outer fabric, and supple nylon inner facing to provide all-day comfort. There are two securable easy-access fine mesh pockets, and is tether / tow ready with a pig tail and throw bag accessory. Reflective strips appear on both the front and rear.|
I was looking for a new PFD once my old one started to blow out at the seems. Since I do the occasional guiding, and have found myself in more advanced situations where having the ability to safely tow another paddler out of dangerous surf could become a possibility, the Guide model was the right choice for my needs. It comes with a slew of features that a more simple recreational life vest just wouldn't offer. (better pockets, tow belt, padding, durability) That being said, sometimes having a slender no frills PFD is more comfortable when you're paddling for an hour or less, and don't have need of the advanced features this offers.
That being said, I really do like the fit and feel of the Guide. There are two chest pockets suitable for carrying items like meal bars, gels, my paddle key and vehicle key. The bellows in the pocket help it cope with more and more items. The other pocket has been designed for holding electronics. I have stored my Garmin GPS here, and it fits very well, and is easy to secure and access with a small rapid lock closure. Otherwise, I usually keep my GPS in a viewable drybag on deck. Inside the left panel behind the face fabric is a deep open pocket for other flat items. This one I just discovered!
When looking at the detailing of this PFD, I see comfort and functionality designed all over it. Most life vests I've seen have just the bare adjustable straps for the shoulders, while this one has padding like that of a backpack. Three lash points exist on the vest, two in front, and one on the rear. Besides the main center zipper, two rapid lock clips (bottom and top) can secure the vest without zipping it up. When it's really hot out, it helps in keeping cool. Although getting around the belt is a bit awkward, it also makes for accessing things underneath your pfd like a zip-locked map, the inner pocket, or a pocket in your drytop way easy without decreasing the effectiveness of the vest.
The tow belt has a quick release pull tab, and a steel O ring in the back from which you would attach a cow tail with a beener. Your throw bag would be part of this system, and as such, these accessories come separately. I also rigged my Guide out with the Tributary hydration bag that attaches via plastic clips to loops on the back. It's about a two Litre Platypus bladder and hose. This is such a great feature to include with your PFD because so often with having a bottle on deck, it's too hard to stop paddling for a drink, so consequently, you don't bother. This both keeps your deck surface cleaner, and gives you easy access to hydration at the same time.
I've paddled all summer in the guide, and have found it to be way comfortable. The wide cut didn't restrict movement, no matter what the paddling style, or during rolls. It is slightly bulky due to it's extra features, but hey, you'll be well equipped for a longer tour. The adjust-ability only adds to the comfort. Three strap sliders per side, plus shoulder adjusters really dial in the fit without feeling like you're in some sort of girdle.
The Guide is certified for both USCG, CE and Transport Canada (ULC) depending on colors. (Mango, orange, red) and is available in small, Medium, Large and XL. Other rescue style vests include the Ronin Pro and the ProFIt Tour.
East coast editor