The battle of preferences over neoprene versus nylon rages on until this day. Many bemoan neoprene for sticking to their skin or causing undue perspiration, while other rile against nylon for being itchy, coarse and chaffing against their skin. The decision which is best is all but entirely preferential and something that simply cannot be finalized with a solitary written review. Unfortunately, the low cost of producing a nylon vest is much below that of a neoprene piece that almost all child and youth sizes are made from the cheaper stuff.
This made our decision to review Slippery’s new Youth Hydro Nylon Life Vest somewhat easier. The US Coast Guard-approved type 3 PFD is designed for children between 50-90 pounds (with a 26″-to-29″ chest). As per Slippery’s own description, “It is lightweight and provides a comfortable, secure fit.” This secure fit comes via three plastic snap buckles tightening a trio of woven belts. To be expected with all Slippery products we’ve tested, the fitment is stellar, without limiting range of shoulder, arm or neck motion.
Recently, we’ve found testing children and youth products to be a bit of a guessing game. Most kids are just happy to be at the lake or riding a ski, and won’t necessarily specify unique quirks or concerns about the equipment they’re using. Certainly complaints are common as is with most children, but sifting complaints from actual instructive criticism is a different matter entirely. We found that asking incredibly specific questions made our testers slightly hesitant as they didn’t want to come off as ungrateful; so much of our takeaways have been through observation and subtle questioning.
Unlike a neoprene vest, which is typically heavily contoured and molded, with segmented stitched-in panels, a nylon vest is essentially a nylon vest-shaped bag with loose foam panels inserted and stitched closed. We discovered this fact the hard way as our 7-year-old test subject regularly used the vest as less of a traditional personal flotation device and more of a “flotation assistant” during breaks between riding – a notably common thing for kids to do. Unfortunately, the foam panels themselves had a tendency to fold and bunch up inside of the nylon liner, requiring some creative coaxing to get them back into shape.
The Youth Hydro Nylon Life Vest also includes (albeit curiously) a D-ring for clip-style lanyards, although very few parents let their 8-year-olds operate a personal watercraft without adult supervision. Thus far, our test sample vest has held up to some tremendously rigorous testing, both aboard watercraft and in just playing in the water. So far, our designated test subject has preferred this vest over the others we have still pending review. Nevertheless, we found the Slippery Youth Hydro Nylon Life Vest both an attractive unisex option, a tremendous value (priced at $29.95) and a solid “all-around” vest offering for the kids!