Stohlquist Tow Motion vs. NRS CVest

I am looking to replace my +12 year-old Lotus Designs Straight Jacket pfd. I have looked at several lines including Astral and Kokatat. So far I have not found a new vest that meets my wants or needs.

I am a sea kayaker and instructor. I am looking for comfort, fit, durability, attachment points and pockets for my safety gear.

At the moment I am looking at the Stohlquist Tow Motion and NRS CVest. Anyone out there that has tried one or both? Your feedback would be much appreciated.

have a CVest
Mighty pleased w. every feature after 8 months, fall/winter/spring and now into summer.

I have toured for hours at a clip, sprinted for minutes at a clip - lol - surfed, balance braced, sculling braced, rolled, rescues, climbed around the boats, etc. Very comfortable and lightweight,too. The fabric is lighter than other makes and cleans up very well. Looks new so far.

The many pocket dimensions and locations are ideal for me, as are the attachment points for knife and strobe (or plb. The cVest achieves this w. less bulk that other vests w. similar features.

The amount & placement of reflective tape is good. I realize this is minor and I could augment it.

The floatation is not bloated or in the way, a special beef of mine, and the mesh lower back extremely appreciated when touring or doing laybacks.

BUT I have not towed anyone. I have a separate North Water Ocean tow I wear when situation dictates.

As to your needs, do you require an integrated tow belt on your next vest? Prefer it? Or not a factor? Because that would impact on which vests you’d consider.

Raven, thanks for the feeback!
I too use a Northwater tow system, their Sea-Tac model, so I do no require an integrated belt. The VHF radio pocket on the CVest is a plus, but the Stohlquist model has one also.

I seem to fall between sizes on both vests. NRS suggests I go larger. I’m 155 lbs, 5’9" with a 39-40 chest.

glad to help

– Last Updated: Jul-25-13 3:01 PM EST –

In upstate NY you'll be wearing a drysuit w. layers at times - like half the paddling season. Much as in MI.

I'd size up for that reason alone.

Size small here. My chest is 37 before layers.

The cVest has really good chest adjustment straps. I can get them nice and snug, which means a lower profile for layback rolls, cowboy, etc. The side straps also cinch securely & comfortably, the zipper slides easily, and it buckles at the base. All the points of adjustment move freely and stay out of way.

I really can't think of anything I don't like. And I am picky about vests.

Have you tried one on? that is the real proof despite anything anyone else might say.


– Last Updated: Jul-25-13 4:33 PM EST –

Yep, I wear a dry suit for almost half of my paddling, which was one reason NRS suggested I size up to the L/XL, but I suspect the S/M will work. I believe the only difference between the two sizes is in the length of the side straps and I am not overly massive in either the chest or waist. I believe the flotation is the same regardless of size.

Regrettably, I have not been able to try on either the CVest or the Stohlquist Tow-Motion.

One potential concern is my NRS Hydration pack. I am not sure how well it will work with the lower back mesh panel on the CVest. I have received mixed reports on the compatibility between the two.

can you order both sizes
S/M and M/L of the Cvest, try them on at home, each w the hydration pack strapped on in your winter and summer kit. You could even sit in your boat(s).

I agree w. your logic on the side straps, there’s plenty strappage. I may even cut mine and singe the ends. But so far it’s no bother.

As long as I leave all the tags on there’s no prob w. returns, at least w. REI, and Moosejaw (online or via store purchase).

I don’t wear a hydration pack on my back. I hang it off the seatback. Not trying to say my way is best or do what I do, just not a consideration for me in choosing a vest.

The cVest is worth the consideration. At the last 3 symposia I attended, they were just starting to show up on students and instructors. They will not appeal to those who want an integrated towbelt but not everyone must have or wants that.

Tow Motion
There are two in the family. The hard shell front pocket is great when we carry a VHF radio, and great for the camera when we don’t.

Fit works fine for both myself and for the girlfriend.

It’s not a class V rated towing vest, so I don’t use it on the river, but we have practiced towing with our 15’ tow setups (from Stohlquist and Northwater) on sea kayaking voyages. Adequate for short tows or equipment recovery after a yardsale.

I am very price sensitive, so I acquired these for a fraction of ‘list’ price. Not sure that I would spend premium dollars on them.