The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Onyx MoveVent Curve Review

Surprising performance on a budget.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $55 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable, good movement, easy to lean back in
Cons:  Runs slightly large, vertical vents don't work, no pockets
Manufacturer:   Onyx Outdoor
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 28, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Comfort - 35% 7
  • Mobility - 30% 6
  • Versatility - 25% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

With a vertical slab design that allows for more freedom of movement than we expected and at a cost that's less than half of some of the competition, the Onyx MoveVent Curve is our Best Buy Award winner. It may not be the most attractive jacket we tested, but nearly everyone who tried it found it to be more comfortable than they were expecting it to be. Though it lacks any pockets, the Onyx proved itself to be a solid choice for paddling and general on-water activities.


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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
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Pros Comfortable, good movement, easy to lean back inTapered front, comfortable, breathable, good strap management, large pocketsVery adjustable, great fit, secure and comfortable, good sizing options, moves well, flatteringExcellent paddling mobility, breathable and open design, comfortable fabric, works for short torsosComfortable fabric, moves with you, durable, secure fit
Cons Runs slightly large, vertical vents don't work, no pocketsBack panel high for swimming, runs large, pockets may be in the way while paddlingFull coverage can be hot, runs a bit largeBulky, unbending and flat, rough straps, key loop catches in pocket zipperNo ventilation, sizing a bit generic for a really good fit, pushes breasts into armpits
Bottom Line Surprising performance on a budget.A versatile paddling jacket with good ventilation and big pockets.A highly adaptable, super comfortable women's PFD with great sizing options.Providing out-of-the-way, low profile protection that doesn't cut down on your mobility.A comfortable, full-coverage option for female paddlers.
Rating Categories Onyx MoveVent Curve Astral V-Eight Astral Layla NRS Ninja NRS Siren
Comfort (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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8
Mobility (30%)
10
0
6
10
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7
10
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7
10
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8
10
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6
Versatility (25%)
10
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6
10
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9
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6
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7
Durability (10%)
10
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5
10
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8
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9
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9
Specs Onyx MoveVent Curve Astral V-Eight Astral Layla NRS Ninja NRS Siren
Gender Unisex Unisex Women's Unisex Women's
Intended Use Paddling Recreational, fishing, touring Whitewater, sea paddling, touring, SUP Paddling (low profile) Paddling, whitewater
Entry Style Front, center zip Front, center zip and bottom clip Pull over; side entry, off-center 3/4 zip and bottom clip Pull over; side entry, 2 side clips Pull over; side entry, 2 side clips
Wear Type Vest Vest Vest Vest Vest
Sizes Available XS/S (28-36")
M/L 36-44")
XL/XXL (44-56")
S/M (31-37")
M/L (38-44")
L/XL (45-51")
XS/S (27-31")
S/M (31-37")
M/L (38-44")
L/XL (45-51")
S/M (33-40")
L/XL (38-46")
XXL (42-50")
XS/S (30-42")
L/XL (42-52")
Size We Tested M/L (36-44") S/M (31-37") S/M (31-37") S/M (33-40") XS/S (30-42")
Measured Weight (ounces) 17 oz 20 oz 26 oz 28 oz 29 oz
Foam Type Soft, lightweight foam PE foam & EVA foam Kapok fiber front, PVC-free PE foam back PVC-free, PE foam PVC-free, ultrasoft foam
Main Material 200D nylon shell 200 x 400D ripstop nylon 200 x 400D ripstop nylon shell, 200D nylon liner 200D urethane-coated ripstop nylon 200D ripstop nylon shell, smooth 210D nylon liner
Rated Buoyancy Not specified 16 lb 16.3 lb 16.5 lb 16.5 lb
USCG classification Type III Type III Type III Type III Type III

Our Analysis and Test Results

The MoveVent Curve is a unisex jacket with an impressive fit range over three sizes. It's a partial back, type III vest, covered with a 200D nylon shell with neoprene shoulders.

Performance Comparison


A pretty decent PFD for a lot less than the competition.
A pretty decent PFD for a lot less than the competition.

Comfort


Though it's made out of what seems to be the standard material for most life jackets, the MoveVent Curve has a pretty soft feel that's more comfortable against your skin than we expected it to be. The top of the front is slightly tapered to better fit an actual human's shape, which we appreciate. It also has plenty of space for your arms to paddle or cast a fishing line. The straps are easy to adjust, and the shoulder straps have helpful loops on the front to keep those tails at least a bit more under wraps. All the straps are soft as well, which helps them stay comfortable against bare skin. The back is a bit larger than a half-back, but the bottom section is mesh, aiding in breathability but keeping the back above a very low seat only. Because the back comes down fairly low, even though it's not a full back, it functions much like full one in practice and is reasonably comfortable to lean back on. Neoprene shoulders provide add comfort to the fit of this jacket.


The Curve runs a bit large, so if you're on the smaller side of the measurement range, you may want to size down. This is compounded by the odd triangular shape of this vest that flares out at the bottom where it should be thinner to accommodate your waist. The added bulk at the bottom can make it a bit cumbersome for smaller folks, whereas sizing down may help alleviate this issue. And while the mesh lower back portion helps with the breathability of this jacket, the vertical mesh vents in the front tend to close when you secure the jacket around you, so don't count on those keeping you cool. The Curve can be pretty warm on a hot day, necessitating a dunk in the water.

Vertical panels joined by mesh help the Curve move as you move.
Vertical panels joined by mesh help the Curve move as you move.

Mobility


Despite its slightly odd appearance, the MoveVent Curve is a pretty decent vest to paddle in. Large openings for your arms and soft padded sides help here. With fairly low-riding torso straps, getting a secure fit was easier than expected, and the Onyx stays put when jumping into the water. And if we enjoyed the mobility of the panels while this PFD is dry, we notice it even more when it's wet. While other jackets may be made of several panels, among models we tested, only the Curve has those pieces attached separately rather than all jammed into a single fabric casing. This helps the vest to more easily move as you move and even makes it more comfortable to wear securely without it being too tight.


Again, the issues we found with the Curve's mobility are tied to it running a bit large on our testers. When fully tightened, the thick bottom corners of this jacket protrude more than we'd like from the sides, which can get in the way slightly of some arm movement. Also, the adjustable side straps are closer together on the front than the back, causing the mesh portion of the back to be slightly bunched when you wear it.

Large open sides let you paddle  though a wide  flared bottom might be a little in the way of a close-to-body stroke.
Large open sides let you paddle, though a wide, flared bottom might be a little in the way of a close-to-body stroke.

Versatility


The Curve is a pretty good paddling jacket, with plenty of room for movement and a design that works with you as you propel yourself through the water. The half-back design is meant for a low seat back, though we found that this jacket mostly rested on the seatbacks of our boats. As a fairly comfortable jacket that's soft and pretty out of the way, we also think this PFD is a decent general use option, even if you're not a super paddler. It also weighs just 17 ounces, making it one of the lighter full jackets we tested.


The MoveVent Curve is completely pocketless and loopless, so if on-person storage is a priority for you, this is unlikely to be your new favorite jacket. The previously mentioned lack of front ventilation is also less than ideal, though not unheard of for PFDs. And while we don't mind the feel of this vest, it's far from flattering, if that matters to you.

Though it runs a bit large  the value in this budget pick was noticed by several testers for just about any paddle activity.
Though it runs a bit large, the value in this budget pick was noticed by several testers for just about any paddle activity.

Durability


Made of "soft lightweight" unspecified foam covered by a 200D nylon shell, the Curve is of average construction. We had no major issues with the durability of this vest during our testing though the yellow fabric does seem to get dirty fairly easily.


This is one of the few options we tested that isn't made of ripstop material. The soft straps are also prone to fraying after a snag, just like some of its competitors. While we had no issues with the hardware during our testing, other online users complained of difficult zippers and broken buckles. The Onyx products we tested, including the MoveVent, are also the only ones that don't come with a warranty guarding against manufacturing defects. Overall, we're not appalled by or impressed by the durability of the Curve.

Perhaps not the highest quality materials or construction  the Curve still lasted through all our months of testing.
Perhaps not the highest quality materials or construction, the Curve still lasted through all our months of testing.

Value


By far the least expensive product in this review, the Curve is a pretty valuable product. It's a solid performance piece for less than half the cost of many of its competitors. Though it may not be as specific as some others, it doesn't skimp on the comfort or mobility, making this jacket a great choice for budget-conscious buyers.

Conclusion


The Onyx MoveVent Curve is a surprisingly comfortable life jacket with a unique pattern of vertical slabs that keep you moving no matter what you decide to paddle. Though it may not be the most flattering jacket we tested, it is still some of our testers' favorite to wear for a day on the water. And with a low price point, it's no wonder this easy-to-love PFD is our Best Buy Award winner.

Save some dough and still love your life jacket.
Save some dough and still love your life jacket.


Maggie Brandenburg