At first we were a little concerned that we had put on some extra weight. In our previous review of Jobe’s Youth Progress Neo Vest, we knocked the Netherlands-based company for its lost-in-translation sizing, but this time around we knew we had the right size selected for our new Ruthless Molded Vest. Now the question was whether we were no longer the same size.
Thankfully, neither were right (or wrong for that matter). Rather, the soft, pliable EVA foam-paneled side-entry vest had yet to be broken in. Similar to a new pair of jeans, we found that the neoprene-covered molded foam simply needed to relax a little as it conformed to our frame. And sure as the jeans analogy, the Ruthless Molded vest suddenly became our absolute favorite side-entry vest we’ve tested since launching The Watercraft Journal nearly two years ago.
Any of our readers who regularly digest our “Real Review” reports will know that we’re huge sticklers on comfort over nearly everything else, because in all reality, nobody is going to wear something that isn’t comfortable for too long. Big advancements in EVA molding has allowed for leaps in life vest comfort, and Jobe’s newest side-entry is in direct reflection of it. Jobe has crammed as much shaped EVA into the Batman-body armor design all without sacrificing flexibility.
In fact, the degree of flexibility is significant particularly when considering the Ruthless Molded Vest is equipped with an integrated back support for additional protection. Extra protection is also provided by additional foam panels at each side of the vest. And, as Jobe’s own website attests, “the foam panels are non-water absorbing, fast drying, durable and lightweight.”
Of course, all of this integrated EVA foam also provides the vest’s buoyancy. Being a European product, the Jobe is not USCG (United States Coast Guard) rated, but seeing that very few riders encounter trouble with law enforcement, this should not be a major deterrent, as the Jobe Ruthless vest is CE-approved (an abbreviation of the French phrase “Conformité Européene” which literally means “European Conformity”, wherein the manufacturer declares its sole responsibility, conformity with all of the legal requirements).
Our prior grievances with side-entry vests were numerous but Jobe masterfully addresses all of them through the use of superior materials and thoughtful design execution. The vest is cut long, so it doesn’t ride up. Assisting in this is an innovative first: a strapped-in neoprene kidney belt that wraps tightly around your midsection to keep the vest in place whether through aggressive riding, sitting down or even floating casually.
Jobe designed the over-the-should straps to be wide and low profile, opening up the neckline and large arm openings for an extended range of motion. The modular foam plating on the back and chest allow a wearer to bend back and forth easily and not feel either like being strapped into a corset or wearing a loose sandwich board. Peeling the Ruthless Molded Vest off at the end of a long day can be a little tight, depending on how wet the neoprene skin is.
Entrance into the Molded Vest is via a broad-toothed, anti-corrosion coated zipper (with thoughtful zipper cover to protect your underarm from being snagged on a loose zipper), and two partially hidden webbing straps that weave beneath the armored back and chest, and appear on the sides. A lanyard loop is stitched into the bottom of the chest plate as well.
We logged a great deal of time on our Jobe Ruthless Molded Vest and discovered that we liked it more and more as we broke it in. Admittedly, our first couple of rides wearing the vest weren’t our favorite, but after a supremely hot day out on the lake, we discovered the vest’s ability to wick water surprisingly well, and keep its cool even under the beating sun. As we continue to use the vest over the summer, we knew we had only one option when it came time for our world record “Long Haul” attempt.
As many have seen in the first webisode of The Watercraft Journal “Long Haul,” the Jobe vest is front-and-center for much of the action, and deservedly so. Regardless of the hours spent in the sunshine, the vest’s deep black hasn’t bleached or faded, and the edged haven’t frayed or torn. The screen printed yellow graphics haven’t even flaked off. Again, this vest has managed to hold up beyond our expectations.
Now, priced at £119.99 (or $185 USD), the Jobe Ruthless Molded Vest isn’t cheap. But given the degree of beating that we’ve put on this PDF, we’re leaning pretty hard on saying the near $200 price tag might just be worth every penny. So if you’re like us, and feel that comfort is king and longevity is a must, this side-entry vest just might be the ticket for you too.