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Gear Guide 2012: Kokatat Aries Life Vest

The low-profile, adjustable PFD features soft, PVC-free foam, which molds around your body for custom-fit-like comfort.
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The low-profile, adjustable Aries PFD features soft, PVC-free foam, which molds around your body for custom-fit-like comfort. Pull straps on each side and shoulder (as well as a quick-release waist belt) keep it in place if you find yourself in the drink. “It didn’t rise up over my shoulders at all,” says one swimmer after a gunwale-jumping cannonball. With foam relegated to the front and back instead of the sides, generous arm openings allow full-motion paddle strokes. A 500-denier Cordura outer layer resists rips and abrasion while a nylon inner keeps it smooth against the skin. Nice touch: Thin foam in the lower back, topped by thicker foam higher up, accommodates low-rise seat backs without jutting you forward. $99; 1 lb. 14 oz. (XL); kokatat.com

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