There are few brand names more synonymous with jet skiing, racing or just generally being part of the sport than JetPilot. The brand that now stretches into professional surfing, wakeboarding, skateboarding and much, much more, earned its stripes first in the world of standup jet ski racing. The riding gear, wetsuit and apparel manufacturer quickly became a household name during the sport’s height and took it’s equity to other watersports.
Although JetPilot currently has vested interests in other sports, it still retains a large presence in the realm of personal watercraft. The Watercraft Journal was able to get its hands on their Apex Side-Entry Nylon vest. Unlike other manufacturers of race-grade life vests, JetPilot’s has full USCG-approval as well as a 100mph speed rating. These two factors alone are enough to distinguish JetPilot’s commitment to rider safety over others.
Although appearing similar to other traditional side-entry vests, the Apex’s front and rear panels are not mere foam slabs, but contoured and molded panels, featuring a 3-buckle closure design, with hidden webbing to secure the straps. The whole of the vest is covered in soft polyester nylon with custom screen printed branding that won’t fade as quickly as lesser brands.
Besides our blue/black combination, other colors include red/blue, red/black, gray/black, and white/gray. The Apex Side-Entry Vest is also a preferred choice of racers for their use of better materials to meet superior rider safety standards.
For our long term test, we put our Apex to good use during several photoshoots, plenty of days of casual riding, and the lauded Long Beach-to-Catalina Offshore Championship in July. The nylon cover allows for quick drying and breathability, the large head and arm reliefs provide a wide range of motion, and although side-entry vests habitually strike us as being a pain to put on and tighten down to our liking, the Apex was nowhere near as clunky or bulky-feeling as other side-entries that we’ve reviewed.
The high speed impact rating (100mph) demands JetPilot’s thickest foam, so there’s little escaping the big, puffy feeling of wearing a life vest. So until somebody invents a t-shirt that can keep you afloat, we can’t have it both ways.
Priced at a reduced $41.99 (at the time of this writing), we are hard-pressed to find a more durable life saving vest than JetPilot’s Apex S/E Nylon Vest.