Stohlquist Fisherman Review
Cons: Not cheap, minimal high visibility detailing, scratchy shoulder straps
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|Pros||Built-in work stations, high back panel, durable design, multiple mounting and attachment points||Secure and comfortable fit, integrated handle, removable harness, high quality construction||Comfortable articulated fit, multiple pockets, thin ventilating back||Great mobility, stays put, durable||Accommodating sizing, large armholes, great price, lightweight|
|Cons||Not cheap, minimal high visibility detailing, scratchy shoulder straps||Not suitable for below 50 pounds, pricey||No bottom security buckle, can ride up||No pockets, a bit long, full coverage is less breathable||No pockets, top strap hard to tighten, torso length too big for smaller paddlers|
|Bottom Line||A high utility and comfortable jacket that's sure to be appreciated by anglers who want a handy mobile workstation right on their chest||If you are looking to get your kid the best life jacket on the market, this is it||With a comfortable slimline profile and high functionality, this well-designed PFD was an all-around favorite||A simple, comfortable paddle vest that stays in place and provides a great value||A super adjustable, surprisingly comfortable option that's simple and easy to wear|
|Rating Categories||Stohlquist Fisherman||Astral Otter 2.0||Astral E-Ronny||NRS Vapor||Stohlquist Fit|
|Comfort and Mobility (20%)|
|Quality of Construction (15%)|
|Features and Versatility (15%)|
|Specs||Stohlquist Fisherman||Astral Otter 2.0||Astral E-Ronny||NRS Vapor||Stohlquist Fit|
|Intended User||Unisex||Youth (50-90 lbs)||Mens/Unisex||Unisex||Unisex|
|Intended Use||Fishing||Paddling and sailing||Recreation, touring, fishing||Paddling||Paddling, general boating|
|Entry Style||Front zip||2 chest, 1 waist buckle||Front zip||Side entry, side clip||Front clip|
|Sizes Available||S/M (33-39")
|Youth (50-90 lbs)||S/M (31-37”)
|Youth (50-90 lbs)
Youth L/Adult XS (75-125 lbs, 27-33" chest)
Adult XL (48-60")
|Size We Tested||S/M (33-39")||Youth (50-90 lbs)||M/L (38-44”)||XS/M (30-42")||Universal (30-52")|
|Measured Weight||28 oz||21 oz||17 oz||28 oz||14 oz|
|Foam Type||Gaia flotation foam||Organic kapok & PE foam||Gaia + flotation foam||Soft foam||PE foam|
|Main Material||500D cordura shell, 200D oxford liner||200D and 400D ripstop nylon||300D diamond RPET||400D urethane-coated ripstop nylon shell, 200D nylon liner||200D nylon shell, 200D oxford liner|
|Claimed Designed Buoyancy||16.75 lbs||11.5 lbs||16 lbs||16.3 lbs||16 to 18 lbs|
|USCG Classification||Type III||Type III||Type III / performance level 70||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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Sara James
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