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MTI's type V Canyon youth life vest also comes in adult sizes. This is one of the few, and in our opinion, the most comfortable, rafting jacket for kids made. Just note that it will not work for anyone below 24" to 25" chest size. The Canyon Youth features a bottom strap that is below the actual foam, allowing you to tighten this vest far more securely than Stearns or (the discontinued America's Cup) Rogue youth type V's. The Canyon also incorporates split cells in the back panel, and front foam blocks that are slit horizontally 2/3 of the way up the chest. Both these features increase your child's ability to bend forward or backward when paddling & rowing.
These come in and orange/blue/black three tone and are only for people under 95 pounds with chest sizes ranging from 24" to 29".
One detail is that the Canyon vest is perhaps the warmest type V we've ever checked out, which may or may not be a good thing depending where you boat. With the very secure bottom strap though, you can unbuckle the upper straps in the calm stretches to cool off.
These are the brand new version of the Canyon from MTI. We won't be getting the newer versions of the Youth size until later this Summer. We still have plenty of the previous year's Youths for now.
Although the basic pattern of MTI's Canyon type 5 rafting jacket has not changed, many cosmetic and durability details have been addressed compared to the 2010/2011 version of this lifevest. For one thing, all the exterior nylon has been beefed up to a 400 denier ripstop fabric, and the areas most likely to stain have been changed to a black color. And all of the 2012's we're carrying will be a three-tone color. This small/medium size is orange/blue/black. Very soft, high grade foam is used for the front and wrap-around side panels, with a somewhat stiffer foam in back. The logos are also now attractively woven onto the vests.
The Canyon is a terrific compromise between the features of the old America's Cup Ultrafloat & Rogue models (America's Cup/Wellington is long out of business). A very important feature on the Canyons is the bottom-most of the four straps, running below the actual foam This allows you to snug it far more securely than almost any other type V. The Canyon also incorporates split cells in the back panel, and front foam blocks that are slit horizontally 2/3 of the way up the chest. Both these features increase your ability to bend forward or backward when paddling & rowing.
These come in two adult sizes (plus the Youth size, which is listed separately in this section of our site). The chest sizing shown on the jacket interior for the small-medium is 30" to 40", but in actual testing here we have found this size will cinch as small as 29" with no problem, and it goes up to a full 43" on the chest if you loosen all three pairs of straps on both sides. So it and the large-xl overlap somewhat, which is good if your paddle crew droids come in varying body sizes. The small/medium has 25-1/2 pounds of buoyancy and the l/xl has about 26.5.
One other thing to note is that the Canyon vest is perhaps the warmest type V we've ever checked out, which may or may not be a good thing depending where you boat. With the very secure bottom strap though, you can unbuckle the upper straps in the calm stretches to cool off. The Canyon is one of the most comfortable type 5's and the best at staying where it belongs on your torso.
As of this update, we do still have a handful of yellow 2011 Large/XL size Canyons for $99 if you wish to save a little cash. Call us on the phone if you want those.
The Headwater life jacket is a newer vest from MTI with the same 26+ pound buoyancy as the long running MTI Big Buoy, but incorporating a couple of differences. The most important one is that the interior is made of a highly contoured gauzy fabric, with high strength but also excellent air movement properties. This jacket breathes better and feels cooler than most other high floatation models. It also conforms to your chest better than the Big Buoy, and the net result is dramatically improved comfort despite the 2-1/4" foam thickness on the front panels.
Another difference between this one and the Big Buoy, beyond the color, is the pockets. Two narrow ones have been added mid-chest, and there are a pair of hidden lined hand warmer pockets behind the two big side pockets. A nice little feature on cooler days if you happen to forego neoprene gloves. So you could say there are a total of six pockets. The Headwater also has a set of (four) one inch loops to attach crotch straps to. Like the Patriot and Big Buoy models, it is rated as a type III, but other than the lack of a rear collar it should really be viewed as a type V vest. The Medium/Large size has 26.3 pounds of floatation, the Small/Xsmall about 26 even, and the XL/XXL 27 pounds. Although the stamps on the Headwater give something slightly different, our measurements indicate the SM/XS fits people with chest measurements of 30" to 37" (including whatever you wear on top), the Med/Large goes from about 35" to 45", and the big size fits anywhere from 43" to 53". 54" is pushing it.
Please indicate the size you want in the order notes, and as always, call with any questions.
MTI Junior kid's type III kayak lifejacket. Along with the two type V kid's vest we carry for whitewater, we also stock this very comfortable, high quality type III for kids who will not be doing serious whitewater (see next paragraph). This small scale pfd has most of the same features as the adult MTI's, like six side & shoulder adjustments, whistle & lash D-rings, two mesh pockets, and even a knife patch. Of course, whether your child should be carrying a knife is another matter....
Since this pfd only has about 2/3 the flotation of the Safeguard and Canyon (type 5) Youth's, it is best used for kids up to 90 pounds who are paddling in the ocean, lakes, or easy rivers. If you do plan on having your child wear this for real whitewater, you should only be using it if they weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. In other words, the flotation of the Junior is not sufficient for kids above 70 pounds in intermediate and advanced level rivers. Even then, on some rivers you may find rangers or other law enforcement officials who mandate the use of type V lifevests. Your son or daughter may not be able to go down the river at all without the correct vest. Better to go with MTI's Canyon Youth vest if whitewater is really in the game plan.
Check your child's maximum chest measurement- this vest is designed for sizes between 24" and 29", though this one can go about an inch smaller. $55, in mango or blue.
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SOLD OUT but we now recommend the MTI PFDiva