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Stholquist BetSEA Women’s PFD Review

Posted by on September 5, 2012

Overview:

“Cradle your self in comfort in the new feminine fit BetSEA. The WRAPTURE™ body-wrapping ergonomically shaped torso, built-in cups for a fit like none other. Newly updated with more pocket room, and a small footprint.” – Stholquist Waterware

The Deets:

  • PFD Type: USCG approved Type 3 (Flotation aid)
  • Style: Front Entry, Women Specific
  • Designed flotation: 16lbs, 10oz
  • Pockets: x2 front pockets
  • Sizes (Chest): S/M (28”-34”), L/XL (34”-40”), Plus (40”-46”)
  • Colors: Sage/Gray, Mango/Black, Powder/Gray, Pink/Black
  • MSRP $119.95

Important Note: Stholquist donates $1 for every pink BetSEA sold (and guarantees a minimum $1000 donation) to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research! Buy pink!

The Review:

The Stholquist BetSEA is a high-cut, women’s specific, type-III PFD. The BetSEA features the ergonomically-shaped and highly adjustable Wrapture torso with built-in supportive cups to hug the female figure rather than crush it! The new updates focused on increasing the pocket space to include two large, zippered pockets and on tweaking the shape of the PFD slightly to decrease the profile in the chest. In my opinion, these changes make for a much more paddler-friendly PFD! Other features that caught my eye are the fleece-lined hand-pockets (wish my PFD had these) and small things like the 4-way accessory lash tabs and reflective trim for increased visibility.

It never made sense to me that for so many years there were only unisex PFDs on the market. Let’s face the facts: men and women are shaped differently and there’s no way that a generically shaped, unisex PFD could be equally comfortable for both parties! I was so excited when Stholquist Waterwear introduced the revamped BetSEA, a women’s cut PFD, last season that I went directly to the kayak shop and started Birthday shopping for my girlfriend early! After a season of paddling in the BetSEA I decided to enlist her help in writing this review:

Kayak Dave: “How does the BetSEA compare to other PFDs that you’ve worn?”

Meaghan: “In general, life jackets feel bulky and cumbersome but the BetSEA is fairly comfortable as life jackets go. There’re lots of adjustments so it doesn’t ride up much and I can move my arms around easily. It still feels a bit bulky in the front but not too much and I understand that this is one of the tradeoffs in choosing a high profile life jacket”

Kayak Dave: “What do you think about the women’s-specific cutouts?”

Meaghan: “The cutouts really help a lot to make this life jacket more wearable for women. You don’t feel suffocated in the BetSEA like you do when wearing a unisex vest. I’m glad that life vests are finally being designed with the female figure in mind!”

Kayak Dave: “Do any other features of the BetSEA really stick out?”

Meaghan: “I really like the idea of the fleece pockets to warm my hands. These should help the next time my crazy boyfriend takes me paddling in the winter!”

Kayak Dave: “What do you think about the color selection?”

Meaghan: “Colors are always an important feature for women. I was really excited when I opened my birthday present and found a pink life jacket inside! It made me feel even better when I learned that they make a donation to the American Cancer Society for every pink BetSEA sold!”

Kayak Dave: “Anything else that you’d like to add to the review?”

Meaghan: “Yes, the one thing that I’m a bit disappointed about is that the pink color of my BetSEA has faded quite a bit after only one season. Otherwise I’m really happy with it so far!”

There you have it…if you’re a female paddler looking for a comfortable and paddler-friendly PFD then you should certainly check out the Stholquist BetSEA. It’s Kayak Dave and Meaghan approved!

Final Verdict:

Pros: Women’s-specific fit, comfortable with great range of motion, hand warmer pockets

Cons: Color fades easily, a bit bulky in front

Size Rating: Fits true to size (adjustable within the three size ranges)

Kayak Dave Rating:

 

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