Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
Good quality life vest budt design could be better
on September 1, 2012
Since the Amazon site does not list the chest size applicable to the relevant size, I have taken the liberty of indicating it based on what is listed on the "sizing" tab of the product-specific web page of the manufacturer's web site at stearnsflotation: small (32" -34"), medium (36" -38"), large (40" -42"), XL (44" -46"), 2XL (48"-50"). Note that the manufacturer's web site also has a web page on general sizing for all their products, which you should ignore, and instead use the sizing as indicated on the manufacturer's product specific (Stearn's V2) page. The sizing ran true for me and it is great that there are so many different sizes which mean that one can pick a prefect size to conform to one's body.
I like the fact that the manufacturer on its web site description has openly and honestly stated that the V2 is made in China. However, rest assured the quality is very good and I am sure that it will be durable. I also like the fact that it has just one color (black) and is therefore unobtrusive unlike other life jackets, so it is not embarrassing for one learning to swim to wear it in a swimming pool. I wish the product was sleeker than the overall look, which appears like a bullet-proof jacket that you see on TV. One person even said he thought it was some kind of brace for the back and was surprised when I said it is actually a life jacket.
It is not bulky like a typical life jacket but it is not sleek either, presumably because it needs to provide a specified level of buoyancy to meet U.S. Coast guard type III PFD certification. The two buckles and zipper are of exceptional good quality. The zipper is on the side rather than in the center front, and there is a convenient small opening so one can place it on a hook to dry. The life jacket is comfortable and the space for your arms is large allowing for freedom of movement.
I purchased the item to aid in learning to swim and to serve as a substitute for the flotation "noddle". The Stearn's V2 suited that purpose. It also provides slight warmth which is great especially since the water temperature of most pools is on the cooler/chillier side.
I would have given this product a 5 star rating but am deducting a star because there are small portions of the jacket that seems to have a vinyl-like material and a slight shine (such as the portion that goes over your front shoulders (you can see it in the picture). The chlorine in the swimming pool water also tends to settle on the vinyl causing minor temporary dis-colorization requiring an extra step of the user having to rise the vinyl. Had this vinyl-like looking portion been substituted with neoprene (which is used elsewhere in the product), this well- made product would have been easily met the "top notch" standard. Perhaps the manufacturer/designer will take my suggestion when they decide to make the next version (V3?) of the product (i.e, get rid of the vinyl!!!). I also wish the life jacket was 1 or 2 inches longer so that the entire back (including the lower back (just above the pelvis) can be covered/supported. If you read the reviews for the Stearn's women's V2 version of the product you can also see a comment calling for the jacket to be a bit longer.
Bottom-line advice for designer: Consumers are looking for the sleekest and lightest type III certified life jacket. Why don't you make an "all (i.e., 100%) neoprene" jacket with the slimmest inner padding to achieve this purpose?
Overall, I rate the life jacket 4 stars. After just 4 days of swimming in a pool for the first time, I can now swim in the deep end of the pool knowing that there is a zero chance I will sink.