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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.
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on January 9, 2012
Only great things to say about this product, I do a great deal of open ocean swimming - and the the added security of being able to swim 'aggressively' with this vest is great. I purchased a number of vests with this essential design and for the money this vest really is the winner. Can't go wrong with this purchase...
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on July 24, 2013
I loved this vest when I first got it and now I regret buying it. I wash my vest after every use and the black "shiny" parts are getting white marks on them that I can't remove. The black parts on the top of the shoulders are breaking down already and the black stuff is coming off and sticking to my neck...I have to use a towel to scrub it off. And then last week I washed my vest off and left it on the seat of my waverunner, next day I remove it and it like melted to the seat and left black reside and rubber all over the waverunner seat...It was not left in the sun this was overnight to let it dry. I have used Stearns vests in the past but none with the shiny rubber material and I will never again..The vest is about a year and 3 months old!!!! I emailed the company hoping they will stand behind it but have not heard back yet. Going to buy an Oneill Reactor or Assault vest.
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on May 21, 2012
I have been wakeboarding for a couple of years and I have to say this is the best (approved) vest by far.
- It fit's snug but still allowing you to breathe
- It doesn't ride up under your chin when you are in the water
- It's very fexible
- You have a lot of room to move (pull off your tricks)
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on July 19, 2012
Was looking for a comfortable PFD(personal floatation device) with very good shoulder mobility as we plan to use it for kyaking. The Stearns' jackets have been a pleasure to own. Have used tham a handful of times. They are comfortable, and allow for lots of free and easy movement. It supports me nicely in the water and its stylish to boot. What more could you ask for? I suppose the only draw back could be that black is not the most eye catching in an emergency colour so if they were available in blaze orange it would be nice if that were a concern. Just have to see how they are duribility wise over multiple seasons and if they will get any kind of funk to them which i presume that I should be able to avoid with some light preventative measures.
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on July 7, 2011
I slalom and wakeboard and wanted a vest with more flexibility. This vest accomplished that goal, while looking more stylish at the same time. I did not want a comp vest as I'm not a pro and drowning is a bad way to spend the day, so having a USCG approved vest was a factor in making this purchase. I've used it heavily most of this summer and so far it seems to be wearing well, with a little bleaching of the vinyl components. I would buy another to replace this one when the time comes.
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on December 30, 2011
I wanted to get a life jacket that wasn't too bulky, looked good and obviously works well. I have to say I'm pretty happy with this life jacket as it fits those purposes nicely. For sizing I went with the recommended sizes based on chest size that Stearn's website states. When I first put on the vest it felt very snug. I actually like that as it doesn't move or shift at all while I'm in the water. I actually went snorkeling in this vest and it absolutely stayed put without riding up. Despite being snug it feels comfortable and doesn't inhibit movement at all. If you don't want that very snug feel, then you could always go one size larger than the recommended. Otherwise I have no complaints on the look as it has a sleek, sporty and stylish appearance without looking overly bulky. It's very lightweight and you feel like you can do any activity in it without it feeling cumbersome. Highly recommended.
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on October 8, 2013
Pro's:

- Solid construction
- Hidden strap system
- Quality and solid stitching, zippers and buckles
- Sides fit very well
- Design is very modern and professional, looks like an X-Men vest
- Zipper cover is a nice touch
- Thumb holes are useful

Con's:

- Runs about 1/2 size small
- Doesn't have a small pocket for keys, Body Glove USCG Vests have this feature
- Doesn't have a plastic loop to keep them out of the way, Body Glove USCG Vests have this feature
- Needs a velcro closure on the bottom of the side flap as well, not just the top

In the end, I had to return this because the material on the shoulders doesn't seem like it will last very long. That's why I had to dock 3 stars. That is a major flaw, so much so that it's not worth keeping this vest and risking damage and/or tears to the should material.
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on January 6, 2012
love this vest i ride standup jetski and it doesnt get in the way its a little to buoyant for sub tricks but still an awesome vest. fits great doesnt ride up and the side entry make it easy for me to hang it out to dry on the headache rack of my truck. very happy with this purchase
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on August 7, 2012
I bought this vest for skiing and Kite boarding. It is flexible and comfortable - and what's really an additional perk is that people keep commenting on how cool it looks for a life vest. The only negative is that it's a little hot (it has been 100+ degrees outside) as compared to some other vests, which is the only reason I gave it a 4 instead of 5. The only other thing is that there is no place to mark your name on it (markers won't show up on the black) - which would be nice when you're in crouds of skiiers / boardings, like I am. Great vest and allows lots of freedom for movement.
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