Product Reviews

Personal Floatation Vest

by James Castwell

This may be the most important review I ever write; it may also be the most important one you ever read. This is about why the name Mike Jackson may save your life, literally.

I met Mike twenty years ago. I heard of a floatation bladder thing he had invented and as he lived in the same town I did, I called and asked him to stop into my shop some day and let me see one. That afternoon a good looking, swarthy sea-going fellow strode in and introduced himself. I was impressed with his style, attitude and forthrightness. I was disappointed though that he did not have one of the floatation things with him. I was also embarrassed when he slipped easily out of the light jacket he had on and said, "Here it is." It was great looking, nothing like what I had expected. Inside across the back and shoulders was the air chamber which, when the CO2 cartridge was fired, inflated it.

The next day I bought three, one for me, my wife and my fishing buddy. Since that day, I have never, ever gone on the water in this region without wearing it. Here is the key word, 'wearing.' You and I have been on craft where there have been 'life-preservers.' Cushions, kapok vests or other devices. These are supposed to be worn 'at all times.' Ya, right! Usually they start the trip up under the front and stay there. I guess if we tipped over they would hopefully float about and we could grab one. Terrific safety gadgets.

Some years ago Mike was swept overboard on the Bering Sea from the pitching deck of a crab boat. He survived and dedicated his life to the invention of something that a person would wear, not stow! He did and his company, 'Stormy Seas' company was born.

There are basically two types of floatation devises, one which inflates when it hits the water and one that you inflate. There are good arguments for instances when each would be the better one to have had on. My vote goes to this style, the one I inflate. I hope you agree, if so, the rest of this may save your life.

I now have one of his vests with the air chamber just like my coat. No, it does not have as many pockets as the average 'fly vest,' but it has enough for me. When I go onto a piece of water these days I do not need very many pockets. I know what I will need for the event and take that with me; box of flies or a leather wallet of them, leaders, tippet spools, pliers, and maybe a couple of other small items, clippers etc. This will hold them well and has a full pocket all across the back. It is light weight, not restrictive, comfortable to wear and comes in three colors.

I can see where this would be perfect, yes, perfect for use in a float-tube, a kick-boat, pontoon craft. It is short, almost very short. A good idea in a vest, especially when wading into the surf or arm-pit deep in a steelhead river.

Kayaking is really gaining in popularity and I am glad to bring this vest to your attention here. The short length and just the right number of pockets makes it ideal for them too. The vest is not a new item, it has been out for some time now and readily available here in the U.S. as well as overseas.

I know we all value safety, but those other things are either in the way, cumbersome or just too much bother to wear. Look for one at your fly shop, boating dealer, call 1-800-323-7327 or go their web site, ~ JC

Stormy Seas
PO Box 1570
Poulsbo, WA, 98370
Phone: 1-800-323-7327
Email link:

Website: Stormy Seas

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