The Aquatic Pro is their first Buoyancy Aid has had input from a number of high profile Sea Kayakers including Nigel Dennis during it’s design/development.
The Reed Aquatic Pro is a front zip style with 8 point adjustment on the shoulders, sides and waist. The upper back and shoulders have neoprene padding under them to add comfort and a more flexible fit..
On the front of the Buoyancy Aid are two large zipped pockets. The zips on these run from top to bottom which has advantages and drawbacks.
The bigger opening they provide makes it easy to access larger items. For example, I could stow my VHF in the pocket easily with the aerial sticking out of the slightly open zip. However, when fully opened, it is easy for items not tied in to escape so care needs to be taken.The model I have been using has a length of thin bungee sewn into each pocket. On the end of one is a clip for attaching items, on the end of the other a Whistle.
Although I use an appreciate these, I can’t help feeling a sewn in D ring would be a more secure and useful addition to each pocket.
The spec given on the Reed/Chillcheater website seems to suggest that current models do have D Rings which is a welcome development of this buoyancy aid.Situated on the front centre is a full length neoprene pocket designed to carry a flare, one of the more unusual but well designed features. Behind the two zipped pockets are fleece lined hand warmer pockets which I found a little small but other, smaller handed paddlers liked.
The rear of the buoyancy aid has a large, zipped pocket along with bungee attachments and a velcro fastening loop. This pocket is ideal for a water pouch and feeding tube, or carrying a set of flares.
The Reed Aquatic Pro felt a little ‘slabby’ on the front when I first picked it up, lacking the carefully designed curves of something like the Palm Kaikoura Tour. However, once on the fit was very good indeed allowing excellent movement and flexibility. The adjustment available is very good allowing you to get a snug, comfortable fit easily.
The pockets swallow up any kit I want to carry and I use the rear pocket for my water bag. Even with full front pockets there is no hinderance to paddling or mobility.
I was sceptical about the downward opening pockets and have concerns about the strength of the tie in system on my model however I am totally sold on the ease of access to kit this system provided. When I compare it to struggling to remove items from a Kaikoura with pockets fully loaded there is no comparison.
The Reed Aquatic has received a good battering over the last 12 months and stood up to the test of time extremely well. The fabric is very tough and abrasion resistant. The zips and buckles have remained intact due to their quality and chunky construction.
ConclusionWith extended use, I have found the Aquatic Pro to be very comfortable. The feature set is well thought out and avoids ‘gimmicks’ or over-design.
The build quality is excellent and uses hard wearing materials. This is clearly designed to be a long lasting, workhorse for serious sea paddlers and at £79 it represents excellent value.
From The Manufacturer
• 210 denier outer shell with tear resistant PU reinforced coating.
• PVC, soft profiled foam, providing a low profile design for unrestricted movement.
• 8 point strap adjustment system on the shoulders, side and waist belt to keep the vest in place.
• Neoprene padded shoulders and upper back for comfort.
• Sturdy front zip for easy entry and exit with non corroding nylon teeth and slider.
• Full refelctive ‘3M’ piping on front, back and shoulders.
• Front stretch flare pouch with velcro retaining loop.
• 2 secure zippered fron draining pockets over soft neoprene handwarmers. ‘D’ ring inside pockets for secure attachments.
• Large and secure back pocket for top feeding camel back drink holder or large rocket flare. Adjustable for a low profile.
Website: Reed Chillcheater