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Kokatat Maximus Prime PFD Review

- Tuesday April 9, 2013
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I was very excited last year when I heard that Kokatat was coming out with a new PFD. The main reason for this is that I knew that Kokatat had been working with the Jackson's in dialing in a jacket that would be good for creeking, river running, and playboating. The pictures I could find at the time showed some smart design being put into it as well. The knife sheath has been something I have been hoping to see on vest for awhile, and I have to say im a fan of the side entry vest.

This past week I received my demo jacket, and like a child on Christmas morning, I tore open the box to see what was inside. I was immediately impressed with the overall quality of the jacket. Picking it up you could feel a good weight to it and start to immediately notice the durability of the Jacket. The outer shell is mostly Cordura 500. Cordura is a very rugged fabric used for making tough, durable products that will give you years of life. If you want to see more information check out thier site here. The jacket features a fairly large front pocket for any quickly needed item. It also has a mesh sleeve on the inside of the chest panel, so that you can store your river tether to help avoid any snagging. After taking some time to admire the quality of the jacket, i went ahead and put it on. The jacket is side entry and closes with 3 buckles on the left side. Adjustment is made similar to other jackets simply by pulling on the straps till the jacket is snug. This can be done on the left and right of the jacket, and the shoulder straps are easily adjustable as well. I took a moment to parade through my office and practice different yoga techniques to test my range of moment. The low profile jacket allowed for a good range of movement, similar to that of my Stohlquist Extract. After some strange looks from my co-workers, I figured it was time to box it up till I could get to the river.

Saturday morning I drove out to the Ocoee to meet up with some other boaters. It was a beautiful day for testing out a new product. Before hand, I got Rami Ayoub to grab a few photos of me sporting the vest just so you guys could see how stylish it is paired up with my Kokatat GMER dry suit. Remember folks, boating is all about looking good.

Click to see the gallery

The jacket preformed even better than I imagined it would. It allowed for great range of movement while paddling down the river. I never felt constricted or clumsy in the jacket as I have other types of rescue vests. At one point during my river running , I decided to broach one of the stickier holes on the river, the top hole of "broken nose". I spent some quality time side surfing till I was flipped. While I sat underwater, thinking about how bad of a decision I had just made, I eventually got washed out over the other ledge. Luckily the other hole didn't grab me, so I immediately paddled to shore to see how the jacket looked. Even after scraping across the ledge on my back, the jacket looked great. The Cordura may have been a little dirty, but not a scuff. Most importantly I didn't get any bruises.

Four miles of river running was great, but how does it feel when doing some play boating? Spent about 2 hours total over the weekend playing in Hell Hole in the jacket. When play boating, the best way to judge your PFD is if you don't notice it at all. At no point while i was surfing did I feel like I was restricted in torso movement. I think this is due to the DSS ("Dynamic Suspension System"). This system allows the front flotation panel to move with your torso movements. This feature is clutch in making an all-in-one jacket with high flotation.

The Maximus Prime PFD is definitely the go to if you are looking for an all in one side entry jacket. If you are like me, and haven't got the money to spend on a freestyle jacket, river running jacket, and a rescue jacket, you should consider picking one of these up. May cost a little more up front, but it will definitely be worth it long term.


- Great 3 in one solution for boating.
- Side Entry (or con if you hate side entry)
- Rescue knife sheath cover
- DSS allows for unrestricted movement.

- Quick release pull location ("could be hard to pull with left hand")




Tags: Gear Kokatat PFD
Categories: Review
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