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Stohlquist Fisherman Review

A high utility and comfortable jacket that's sure to be appreciated by anglers who want a handy mobile workstation right on their chest
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Stohlquist Fisherman Review
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Price:  $160 List
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Manufacturer:   Stohlquist
By Sara James ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 8, 2023
81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 16
  • Fit - 30% 8.0
  • Comfort and Mobility - 25% 8.0
  • Quality of Construction - 20% 8.0
  • Features and Versatility - 15% 8.0
  • Flotation - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Stohlquist Fisherman provides a comfortable and convenient jacket with a fit that is suitable for paddling, casting, reeling, and sitting in a boat. This highly adjustable fishing PFD cinches down at the chest to stop it from riding up and sports two large pockets which can fold down to provide a nifty mobile workstation. In addition, there are multiple attachment points designed to meet the needs of the active fisher. Unlike other fishing vests we tested, this one is specifically engineered to carry more weight and is designed to provide slightly more flotation than Stohlquist's typical vests. Our article on the best life jackets will show you how it fares versus competing products.
REASONS TO BUY
Built-in work stations
High back panel
Durable design
Multiple mounting and attachment points
REASONS TO AVOID
Not cheap
Minimal high visibility detailing
Scratchy shoulder straps
Editor's Note: We updated this review with some extra info on buying considerations on September 8, 2023.

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Bottom Line This jacket is specifically designed to meet the needs of fisherfolk who want to get out on the water safely with a comfortable and highly functional vestThis life jacket rose to the top for its ergonomic design that combines comfort with utilityEasily adjustable with a durable design for a secure fit and supreme flotationA great value for a solid, comfortable paddling jacketSurprisingly comfortable, this super adjustable high mobility jacket is straightforward and functional
Rating Categories Stohlquist Fisherman Astral E-Ronny Ruffwear Float Coat NRS Vapor Stohlquist Fit
Fit (30%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort and Mobility (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Quality of Construction (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Features and Versatility (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Flotation (10%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Stohlquist Fisherman Astral E-Ronny Ruffwear Float Coat NRS Vapor Stohlquist Fit
Intended User Unisex Mens/Unisex Dog Unisex Unisex
Manufacturers Stated Intended Use Fishing Recreation, touring, fishing Dog safety Paddling Paddling, general boating
Entry Style Front zip Front zip Over-the-head, bottom clip Side entry, side clip Front clip
Wear Type Vest Vest Top and bottom flotation Vest Vest
Sizes Available S/M (33-39")
L/XL (40-46")
XXL (46-52")
S/M (31-37”)
M/L (38-44”)
L/XL (45-51”)
XXS (13-17")
XS (17-22")
S (22-27")
M (27-32")
L (32-36")
XL (36-42")
XS/M (30-42")
L/XL (42-52")
XL/XXL (50-56")
Youth (50-90 lbs)
Youth L/Adult XS (75-125 lbs, 27-33" chest)
Universal (30-52")
Adult XL (48-60")
Size We Tested S/M (33-39") M/L (38-44”) Large (30-37") XS/M (30-42") Universal (30-52")
Measured Weight 28 oz 24oz 18 oz 27 oz 13 oz
Foam Type Gaia flotation foam Gaia + flotation foam Foam buoyancy cells Soft foam PE foam
Main Material 500D cordura shell, 200D oxford liner 300D diamond RPET Nylon 400D urethane-coated ripstop nylon shell, 200D nylon liner 200D nylon shell, 200D oxford liner
Claimed Designed Buoyancy 16.75 lbs 16 lbs No rating provided 16.3 lbs 16 to 18 lbs
USCG Classification Type III Type III / performance level 70 N/A Type III Type III

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Stohlquist Fisherman builds on Stohlquist's extensive lifejacket experiences to produce a PFD specifically suited to the needs of those that love to fish. Delivering 16.75 pounds of flotation, this jacket is US Coast Guard and Transport Canada approved. It has a high back design, three adjustment straps, two full-size pockets, and multiple different attachment points. Designed to fit chest dimensions 33 inches (S/MD) to 52 inches (XXL), this jacket is available in four sizes.

Performance Comparison


stohlquist fisherman - this jacket has open mesh sides and a lower back mesh panel allowing...
This jacket has open mesh sides and a lower back mesh panel allowing greater freedom of movement and breathability.
Credit: Sara James

Fit


For this review, we tested the small/medium size of the Fisherman. As with any shared sizing, we were worried this jacket would not fit smaller paddlers very well. Fortunately, the adjustability in the straps ensured we could cinch tight on narrower chests. Large paddlers also found this jacket comfortable as it has three different points of adjustment, which can be altered to suit an individual's unique shape. The Fisherman utilizes Stohlquist's signature cross-chest cinch strap design that has proven to deliver a comfortable and secure fit in the chest region. This adjustability was appreciated by all genders as it helps to avoid chafing caused by the vest riding up.


The high back also helps to ensure that users are comfortable when seated. This design is compatible with even the highest of kayak backrests. With a snug fit and comfortable foam dispersion, you'll have everything you need and nothing getting in the way of your fishing.

stohlquist fisherman - the high back of the stohlquist fisherman makes it comfortable to...
The high back of the Stohlquist Fisherman makes it comfortable to wear when sitting in a kayak.
Credit: Sara James

Comfort and Mobility


The narrow shoulder straps and wide arm holes on the Fisherman allow for a good range of movement that was appreciated when paddling, casting, and trying to reel in a fish. Some jackets can result in chafing if you move your arms a lot throughout the day — the Fisherman manages to avoid this issue.


The sides of this jacket are open, and the adjustable shoulders have mesh paneling on the back panels for maximum ventilation. The higher mesh-back design offers increased clearance for tall seatbacks, which also helps keep you cool. Neoprene padding on the lower back band adds comfort, particularly as this is a place people are prone to chafing. It is a shame Stohlquist did not add something similar along the shoulder straps. If you aren't wearing a layer, these shoulder straps can feel a bit scratchy against bare skin.

stohlquist fisherman - the diagnol cinch straps on the chest of this pfd help provide a...
The diagnol cinch straps on the chest of this PFD help provide a comfortable fit
Credit: Sara James

Quality of Construction


The Stohlquist Fisherman shone in this metric. Made out of robust 500-denier cordura, this high-quality jacket is designed to be tossed around in some rough environments. Unfortunately, the pockets are not waterproof, but they are protected with a tough plastic shell and have drain holes to ensure that water doesn't sit around there longer than it needs to be.


This jacket has a lot of attention to detail. Thanks to the multitude of attachment points and the large pockets that fold down to be workstations, everything you may need is on hand. In addition, the stitching, materials, and overall ergonomics all demonstrate that a lot of time has gone into this jacket. Considering Stohlquist has been making this model for over 12 years, it stands to reason that they know how to make this product last.

stohlquist fisherman - packed with pockets, and yet still plenty of space to move, this...
Packed with pockets, and yet still plenty of space to move, this jacket captures the needs of the adventure sports person.
Credit: Sara James

Features and Versatility


This is another metric where the Fisherman did well. Over time we kept discovering more and more nifty features. Most obvious are the two 7.5" x 7.5" large pouch pockets with protective EVA-stiffened shells. When unzipped, these shells fold down into a secure and handy workstation and reveal an additional mesh storage pouch on the breast of the jacket. There are two sewn attachment loops inside one pocket and a plastic D-ring in the other. In case this isn't enough storage, there are two more external D-rings, an elasticated attached point, two bungee holders, and at least four other places where you could secure your important tools.


The positioning of the attachment points is well thought out. For example, you can store your pliers inside one of the pockets, and using a leash or lanyard can secure them to the D-ring that sits under the pocket. This means that when you pull your tools out, you don't have to worry about potentially losing anything overboard. The jacket is available in a low-vis color or a high-vis color with 3M reflective trim.

stohlquist fisherman - there are mesh compartments within each pocket, d-rings, and...
There are mesh compartments within each pocket, D-rings, and additional bungee sleeves near the zipper that could be used to hold rods, knives, or other tools.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Flotation


This life vest is designed to deliver 16.75 pounds of flotation — almost 5% more than the other fishing-focused vests we tested. Body composition plays a significant role in how we float, and heavier paddlers are actually likely to float better naturally; however, once you start loading weight into your pockets, your natural buoyancy will decrease. Fishers are therefore grateful for the extra flotation this vest is designed to provide.


If you end up in the water, this PFD is comfortable to float in and swim a short distance, thanks to the secure fit. That said, it is not designed to turn a face-down an unconscious swimmer. It is rated as a Level 70 Buoyancy Aid.

stohlquist fisherman - sporting slightly more floatation than your usual life jacket, the...
Sporting slightly more floatation than your usual life jacket, the Fisherman is ready to be loaded up with your gear.
Credit: Sara James

Should You Buy the Stohlquist Fisherman?


Anglers will love this jacket; it fits great, provides a comfortable seating position due to its high back profile, and it keeps everything you may need safe on hand. The diagonal chest strap helps to provide a snug fits that moves with you as you paddle, cast, or reel in a fish. In addition to the required safety this jacket offers, it also delivers a significant amount of comfort and supreme usability for fishers. By helping you to keep your tools on hand (and not overboard), this jacket may also save you money.

stohlquist fisherman - the stohlquist fisherman is a highly functional option.
The Stohlquist Fisherman is a highly functional option.
Credit: Sara James

What Other Life Jackets Should You Consider?


If you enjoy a jacket with accessible pockets, the Astral E-Ronny was also one of our favorites for fishing or frolicking on the river. Although its pockets aren't as deep, it does offer a slightly more comfortable fit than the Fisherman and has a cheaper price tag.

Sara James
 

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