The Kokatat Ronin Pro Rescue PFD Review
When someone mentions Kokatat, the first thing that comes to mind is the GMER dry suit and Rogue dry top. Both have a reputation for being the best outer layers on the market. The name Kokatat is synonymous with superior customer service, being a “lifetime” product (or as close as paddling gear can be), and a high performance comfortable fit. The Kokatat Ronin Pro rescue PFD has all of the same qualities. It offers a lot of protection and comfort, has more flotation than other comparable rescue vests, is loaded with all kinds of useful features, and is built with a 500D Cordura shell that will last for eons. We would not really expect anything less from this PFD because it is a Kokatat.
- LOTS OF FLOTATION: The L/XL Ronin Pro has 17 lbs of Gaia (PVC free) flotation, and the primary competition offers 15.5 lbs. This means that the Ronin Pro will appeal to larger paddlers, or someone who has just had a scary swim on a big rapid. The Ronin will float you higher out of the water, and keep you submersed for a shorter period of time if (and when) you get dunked in a hydraulic while swimming down river. There is a reason that you see the Ronin Pro on so many big water runs.
- COMFORTABLE, PERFORMANCE FIT:There are quite a few adjustment tabs to dial in the fit, and the overall cut of the PFD is one that feels like you’re wearing a play boating jacket with unrestricted movement. One cool thing about the jacket is that it has great rib and back / spine protection. With 17 lbs of float on average, you can have your cake and eat it too with the Ronin. Plenty of comfort, but also loads of protection.
- LOTS OF STORAGE: The front storage pocket is huge. It’s got a zipper on the side, and mesh drain on the bottom. There is a second pocket on the side, that is a little more hidden. If you’re going to do some over night trips, and want to max out on the amount of gear that you can bring with you, the Ronin is a PFD to look at. If you’ve got a Grand Canyon self support trip in your future, this vest was meant for you; lots of volume for big water, and enough storage for the kitchen sink.
- SAFETY AND REDUNDANCY:The front entry has a YKK zipper, bungee safety loop for the zipper, and a Fastex buckle. Again, if you’re a big water paddler, you’ll be rest assured that the Ronin Pro is going to stay on.
- DURABLE:500D Cordura is the equivalent of a pair of double front Carhartt work pants. It will take a while to break in, but will last for a long, long time. The whole jacket is built to the 9’s.
- UP TO 18 LBS OF FLOAT!Again, the Ronin floats well, and fits like a glove. The best way to get a feel for how the extra float helps, is to swim the same rapid in 2 different PFD’s. If you are just learning to kayak or SUP, look at the Ronin (or Ronin Pro). Chances are you will be spending some time in the water, and every extra pound of buoyancy helps.
- PRICE: The Ronin was not designed to be a price point item. There are less expensive type V rescue vests for sale. In general, the less expensive ones will not have the fit, float and features of the Ronin. They also will not last as long.
The Kokatat Ronin Pro falls into the “best of the best” category. Every Kokatat item that we stock is considered to be as good as it gets. If you get on a whitewater kayak forum and search for the word “Kokatat”, you will see that 99.9% of the threads out there are geared towards their legendary customer service, awesome warranty, and quality of build. The Ronin is no exception. It fills a void in the market for people that want a high mobility, high float, rescue vest. Besides having over a pound more flotation than the competition, it has some really smart features like a huge storage pocket and crucial safety redundancy on the front entry (zipper and Fastex buckle). It’s easy to adjust, fits really well, protects you all over (especially back and ribs) and is built with the most durable material available. If you’re a fan of the GMER dry suit, and want the same quality for your PFD, look at the Ronin Pro.
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