Submitted: 04-12-1999 by SWJ
Of all the PFDs I've tried over the last year, the Strait Jacket won out. The SJ is the touring version of Lotus's Rio PFD (a great whitewater PFD, especially for rafting). It's a front-zip PFD, with a short waist (for kayaking with a spray skirt), and large arm openings. There are two side adjustment straps, a waist belt with buckle (helps keep it on if you zipper blows) plus the shoulders have adjustable straps (work like load-lifter straps on a backpack). The shoulders are also soft neoprene and are really comfy. Mine is mostly bright yellow, with lots of black, too. There are reflective strips on the front, the shoulders, and the back. There is a velcro strobe holder on the back (though it doesn't obscure the groovy Lotus Designs "lotus" logo, which, as we all know, is the best reason to own a LD PFD). The front has two pockets: the right side is tall enough for a cell phone or a VHF radio (a small one), or flares or similar 6-7" tall items. The left pocket is horizontal with velcro and buckle strap closures. I keep my cell phone in a waterproof bag in the right side with two flares, and my keys at the bottom. In the left one, I keep my hiker's compass (for taking bearings), and a snack or something. I sometimes carry my GPS in one pocket, too.
I've got a Lotus Designs EFT pack on order, which will greatly enhance the storage capacity. The EFT is a pack that clips onto the back of the PFD, with pockets for extra clothing (or survival gear), a hydration pocket, and a horizontal pocket for a throwbag or tow rope.
The Strait Jacket is very comfortable for wearing all day. The adjustment range is such that I can wear it over just a light shirt in hot weather or over a wet suit and dry top and fleece in the winter and it comfortable either way. It has 16.2 lbs. (if I remember correctly) of floatation.