A few years ago, we used to claim that “we weren’t fans of side-entry vests” but considering we’ve been wearing various iterations of Slippery Wetsuit’s Array Side-Entry Neo Vest for the last four years or so, it’s probably time to retire that claim. We’ve reviewed Slippery’s red-and-silver camouflage Array vest, the all-black version, and the 2020 model to boot. For 2022, Slippery Wetsuits provided The Watercraft Journal with their newest red-and-charcoal Array vest and it too, received high praise for being the best-fitting, most comfortable PDF on the market today.
Competitors side-entry vests are often clunky, made from uncomfortable materials or brutally ill-fitting. And worse yet, they’re adorned with distracting doodads and features that distract from the single-most important characteristic of any riding gear: is it comfortable? It isn’t a difficult question to answer, but dang if people will continue to defend their poor choice because they’ve already paid for it, or they think they gain some sort of brand credibility when none are the case. A poor fitting, uncomfortable vest just plain sucks.
Over the years, Slippery has made several improvements to the Array’s construction, using super-comfortable, stretchy neoprene providing plenty of give and being comfortable on bare skin. Despite being a USCG-approved Type 3 vest – meaning its required to provide sufficient flotation to keep an unconscious person’s head above water – the Array Side-Entry is surprisingly slim and smartly cut.
Optimal flexibility while seated is achieved via multiple hinge points molded into the EV foam panels. By breaking up the larger panels, Slippery designed a vest that looks more like flexible body armor than two slabs of foam strapped around your torso (again, like some other guys’ vests). The segmentation gives the Array Side-Entry fantastic range of motion; doubling over the handlebars to reach inside the front storage bin isn’t such an ordeal as many more cumbersome vests make it.
Large, open armholes and narrow shoulder straps gives the vest its wide range of arm motion. A wide neckline at the collar gives the head and neck a similarly wide range of motion too. Large 1-and-a-half-inch wide belts are tucked under the soft neoprene skin, capped with buckle closures that cinch tight. These snap over a thick-toothed, coated zipper, securing the opened side for easy entry. Slippery added a D-ring sown into the net webbing, and has included a tethered emergency rescue whistle too.
Personally, bright full-colored vests (and most riding gear) isn’t really our style but in preparation for riding the you’ll-never-find-me-out-on-the-ocean-Metallic-Mist-Green Sea-Doo GTX Limited 300 in the Intracoastal Waterway this summer, the bright red Array matched our Sunset Red UV-blocking Riding Jersey and helped us stand out like a landing beacon. Priced at $99.95, the Slippery Array Side-Entry Neo Vest offers a far superior fit and feel than the scratchy canvas-wrapped vests, is far less cumbersome and is surprisingly comfortable – all things we thought we’d never use to describe a life vest.