I’ve been using the Yak Koast Buoyancy Aid for several months now. Designed as a low profile, touring buoyancy aid it utilises a side zip fastening allowing for a large pocket across the front of the PFD and one large rear pocket.
Constructed from ‘supersoft’ foam and tough ripstop nylon, the Koast is a rugged yet comfortable piece of equipment. I have found the lower profile of this buoyancy aid to be extremely comfortable to wear, allowing a full range of movement without ever feeling restricted.
The front of the Yak Koast sports a single, top opening pocket which covers almost the full width of the buoyancy aid. This pocket has a top opening zip with 2 zip pulls, allowing the pocket to open from the centre point. On the front of this pocket, is a seperate knife pocket, with a downward pulling zip. The main compartment contains D rings for attaching equipment and is easily large enough to swallow my VHF along with other equipment. I have the aerial sticking out of the centre of the pocket which is ideal, as it keeps the VHF aerial central avoiding my arms catching on it during strokes – a problem I have had with some ‘side’ pockets.
The other benefit of the large, top opening is it reduces the risk of items dropping out as is the case with vertically opening pockets. The knife pocket is a reasonable size and easily holds a small to medium size diving style knife.
Also on the front of the Yak Koast is a standard lash tab suitable for attaching a torch for night paddling or a knife for easy access.
The rear sports a large pocket designed primarily for a hydration pack. Their is a suitable opening and channels across the shoulder to secure the drinking tube. This pocket has a flap closure and side zip making it easy to stow the hydration system before donning the buoyancy aid.
The combination of an over the head with side zip method for donning/removing the Yak Koast is very welcome. I find it easier to put on/take off on the water (when removing or adding layers) than some front zipped buoyancy aids, although the side zip took a little getting used to doing up.
The wide, neoprene shoulder are very low profile and extremely comfortable, with webbing and buckle adjustment. The Yak Koast also boasts multiple side adjusters to get a snug fit. These are all easy to adjust on the water, even with cold, wet hands.
The colour scheme is bright and high visibility backed up by reflective panels. This has proved invaluable during recent weeks as my sunset filled evening paddles slowly become full blown night paddles with the nights drawing in. An addition I would love to see, given it’s suitability for low light/night paddling, would be light stick holders as some other buoyancy aids are now sporting (for example, the Yak Escape).
In use, the Yak Koast has proven to be extremely comfortable. I like the lower profile and uncluttered/fussy design. I also like the fact the single, wide front pocket keeps items closer to the body, rather than smaller, bulging pockets. The fact I can keep my VHF on my person, yet out of the way by sitting central to the buoyancy aid is fantastic.
The large, top opening means I am never concerned about accessing items, although the single pocket may not appeal to those who like to more flexibility in segregating/organising equipment. For me, it’s never been a problem however.
I’ve been reliably informed by observers that the reflective patches combined with torches on my person/boat work well and provide enhanced visibility.
As with all equipment I test, the Yak Koast has been given quite a hammering and shows no signs of damage or significant wear and tear.
Along with the Yak Conquest Cag, it makes an ideal, comfortable, durable and high visibility combination.
The final consideration is price. Compared to some of the sea kayaking/touring specific buoyancy aids on the market, this is a real contender. For example, Bournemouth Canoes are selling this at £68 – this is between £30-£60 cheaper than some of its rivals (Palm Taupo, Peak Adventure Zip, Palm Kaikoura Tour). Yak seem to have a knack of producing no-nonsense, well designed equipment at very reasonable prices.
- Ergonomic foam shape for maximum comfort
- Multi point adjustment for the ultimate fit
- Bright colour and reflective panels for excellent visibility
- Expanding front pocket and knife pocket for additional storage
- Vertical back pocket designed to accommodate hydration pack
Price: £70 approx