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MTI Slipstream Lifejacket Review

Posted by on May 31, 2013

Overview:

“Ultra-low profile 3D cut foam with racer back and Z-Strap cinch down technology. Mesh Air Flow System interior with memory foam comfort cushions. 2 cargo pockets with soft fleece hand warmers. Stretch mesh pocket with media portal for radio antenna or headphones cord. Solas reflective tape.” – MTI Adventurewear

MTI Slipstream PFD (Photo Courtesy of MTI Adventurewear)

MTI Slipstream PFD (Photo Courtesy of MTI Adventurewear)

The Deets:

PFD Type: USCG approved Type 3 (Flotation aid)

Style: Front-Entry, Unisex

Designed flotation: > 15.5lbs

Weight: 2.2lbs

Tow compatible: No

Pockets: Five (3 Multi-purpose pockets and 2 hand warmer pockets)

Sizes (Chest): S/M (30”-40”), L/XL (40”-50”)

Colors: Mango/Gray, Silver/Navy

MSRP: $135.00

 

The Review:

I’ve had the privilege of reviewing some excellent kayaking-specific PFDs this year including the Astral Seawolf and the updated Greenjacket (review coming soon). Let’s just cut to the chase and say that the MTI Slipstream is right there in the running for a Gear of the Year Award! This performance-minded Type III PFD fits like a custom suit jacket and is accessorized to the nines…

MTI Slipstream Lifejacket FrontBack
The athletic cut of the MTI Slipstream PFD makes it a great choice for men and small-chested women who are interested in a performance lifejacket. The Slipstream has an ultra-low profile that places the bottom of the life jacket high enough on your torso such that it doesn’t interfere with the back-band or seat back. This PFD has a “racer-cut” that provides unimpeded arm movement. However, this cut made the vest feel slightly bulky in the front. The four-point harness system includes adjustable and padded shoulder straps, a waist buckle, and Z-straps on the sides. This setup allows for a lot of adjustment to create a comfortable and secure fit.

Close up of Z-straps

Close up of Z-straps

The Slipstream PFD also features MTI’s Mesh Airflow System to allow for increased breathability and comfort. At first I was skeptical of the mesh due to concerns over chafing on long paddles. This was not the case and the airflow system turned out to be one of the best features in term of fit and feel. The integrated memory foam pads are super comfortable and definitely help to channel air between the vest and your body. The pads also help to lock the vest against your chest and with proper adjustment there’s very little ride-up. This is definitely one of those lifejackets that you’ll forget you’re wearing once you get moving!

Close up of Mesh Airflow System with memory foam pads.

Mesh Airflow System with memory foam pads.

The thing that impressed me most about the Slipstream was all of the great accessory features. Many of the “high-end” sea kayaking PFDs are missing key features such as a radio pocket, knife lash point, or ample pocket space. The Slipstream PFD has all of these features and more at a price point that’s $40-$80 less than other purported “top-of-the-line” sea kayaking PFDs! The layout and assortment of features confirms that the Slipstream was designed by sea kayakers for sea kayakers…

Lots of Pockets!

Lots of Pockets!

The Slipstream has all sorts of small to mid-sized pockets: two general purpose pockets, a pocket that can accept a VHF radio or a media player, and a pair of well-sized, fleece-lined hand warmer pockets (a great bonus)!  I wish that more PFDs were designed to accept a VHF radio as this is a key piece of safety gear that should be carried on your person while paddling. One of the general purpose pockets also contains an emergency whistle that is tethered to the PFD via a bungee cord. The Slipstream also has strips of Solas reflective tape on the front and back of the vest for increased visibility and a lash point that’s positioned to accept a night light. It would be nice to see a second lash point somewhere on the front of the PFD to allow for a knife to be placed in a more accessible position.

MTI Slipstream Radio Pocket

The Slipstream has a Radio Pocket!

Overall, I was very impressed with the MTI Slipstream PFD and recommend it to men and small-chested women who are interested in an athletically-cut lifejacket.  When it comes to fit, everything (mesh airflow system, z-straps, ect) adds up to make the Slipstream incredibly comfortable to the point where you forget that you’re wearing it. I was stoked about the assortment and layout of accessory features; especially the inclusion of a radio pocket as this is something that most “high-end” PFDs lack!

-Kayak Dave

 

Pros: Super comfortable and lightweight, Full assortment of features, RADIO POCKET!!!

Cons: A little bulky in the front, needs more accessible lash point for knife.

Notes: Female paddlers should check out the MTI PFDiva as an alternative to the Slipstream

Kayak Dave Rating:

4 and a half paddles

 

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