NRS PFDs 2022: the Ultimate Guide and Reviews

Since 1972 the NRS name has stood for rugged, reliable equipment built to the highest standards. Below is the overview of their PFD model line for 2022.

NRS Zephyr Inflatable

NRS Zephyr Inflatable

Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Floatation: 27.8 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type V. Meets requirements for type III when worn.
Entry system: Adjustable waist band with side release buckle.

Most commonly worn by paddle boarders, the waist-mounted NRS Zephyr PFD is an alternative to the collar-mounted Matik model. In the event of a swim, simply spin the Zephyr to the front so it sits like a fanny pack, then pull the toggle and fit the inflated PFD over your head. Straps attaching the inflated PFD to the waist belt can be adjusted for a customised fit. As with all inflatables, there’s a manual back up valve should you need it.


NRS Vista

NRS Vista

Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Floatation: XS/M: 16.9 lbs. | L/XL & XL/XXL: 17.2 lbs.
US Coast Guard Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Vista is a recreational PFD with the flair and freedom of a more pricey design. It focuses on comfort, safety and value for recreational and beginner kayakers. The affordable price also makes the Vista a perfect choice as a spare PFD.


NRS Vista Youth

NRS Vista Youth

Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Floatation: 11.8 lbs.
US Coast Guard Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Vista Youth PFD is a stylish alternative to the Crew Youth, and comes with its very own snack pocket, so your young paddler can carry their own chocolate bars on the water.


NRS Crew Child

NRS Crew Child

Weight: 1.04 lbs.
Floatation: 7.4 lbs.
Performance level: 70
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Crew Child PFD gives your child that sense of having the same gear as the adults, awarding them the feeling of involvement and inclusion that they might otherwise lack.


NRS Crew Youth

NRS Crew Youth

Weight: 1.26 lbs.
Floatation: 11.4 lbs.
Performance level: 70
Entry system: Front zip

The ever popular NRS Crew is also available in youth sizing. This PFD is aimed at users weighing 55 to 88 pounds, with chest measurements of 24 to 29 inches, including their paddling layers.


NRS Crew Universal

NRS Crew Universal

Weight: 1.7 lbs.
Floatation: 16.7 lbs.
Performance level: 70
Entry system: Front zip

The market is saturated with no-frills recreational PFDs, but there are few which fit such a broad range of people as NRS Crew Universal. Whether you want a PFD that can be used by various paddlers, a spare for guests you want to take on the water, or maybe you just wear loads more layers in the winter than you do in the summer, the fit of the Crew Universal leaves you with all the adjustment you could need.


NRS Vapor

NRS Vapor

Weight: 1.85 lbs.
Floatation: 16.3 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Side buckle

Just because you’re on a budget does not mean you have to limit your comfort on the water. NRS Vapor PFD has a six-panel construction with soft, malleable foam which contorts to your body. The low profile, snug feel of the Vapor combined with the low cut design gives you maximum movement, for unencumbered paddling.


NRS Ion

NRS Ion

Weight: 2.05 lbs.
Floatation: 16.3 lbs.
US Coast Guard Type: III
Entry system: Side buckle

NRS Ion focuses on functional comfort. However there is a little more flair to this PFD than to the Vapor model. It retains the comfortable six-panel construction to be a figure hugging and comfortable fit, with a low cut design so you can move freely on the water.


NRS Siren

NRS Siren

Weight: 2.1 lbs.
Floatation: 16.3 lbs.
US Coast Guard Type: III
Entry system: Side buckle

NRS Siren is a female specific makeover of the ever popular and well thought out NRS Ion PFD. The ultra soft foam is designed to fluidly conform to your body and move with you as you paddle, so you’ll feel like your PFD is an extension of your body rather than a bulky piece of gear.


NRS Zoya Mesh Back

NRS Zoya Mesh Back

Weight: 1.65 lbs.
Floatation: 16 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Zoya is the female specific version of the ever popular Clearwater. This recreational PFD is perfect for hot days and high backed kayak seats, where the padded back of a normal recreational PFD is uncomfortable or too warm.


NRS Nora

NRS Nora

Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Floatation: XS/M: 14.5 lbs. | L/XL: 16.75 lbs. | XL/XXL: 16.75 lbs.
Performance Level: 70
Entry system: Front Zip

NRS Nora is a female specific version of their Oso model. This is a full back PFD with a long ventilation strip down the middle of the back panel..


NRS Clearwater Mesh Back

NRS Clearwater Mesh Back

Weight: 1.58 lbs.
Floatation: 16 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Clearwater is designed to be a foundational PFD in the NRS range, with the fit and comfort that makes recreational paddling easy. It’s not meant to be fancy, but that doesn’t stop it being the perfect choice for a sunny day.


NRS Big Water V Youth

NRS Big Water V Youth

Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Floatation: 17 lbs.
US Coast Guard Classification: Type V
Entry system: Front buckle

If you’re going to take youngsters onto high volume rivers, you want to know they’ve got all the floatation you can comfortably fit on them. The NRS Big Water V Youth is the lower profile and smaller version of the enormously popular and industry leading Big Water V.


NRS Oso

NRS Oso

Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Floatation: XS/M: 14.5 lbs. | L/XL: 16.75 lbs. | XL/XXL: 16.75 lbs.
Performance level: Level 70
Entry system: Front zip

The NRS Oso is where the line of beginner and recreational PFDs begin to gain more technical attributes. While the simplicity of the PFDs above may be perfect for those who just want to get out on the water close to shore, the Oso is the first which can really take recreational kayakers out on longer day trips, or maybe an overnight adventure.


NRS Big Water Guide

NRS Big Water Guide

Weight: 2.4 lbs.
Floatation: 22.9 lbs.
USCG Certification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

Whether you want to paddle big water, or just want to know you’ll have your head well above water if you do fall in, NRS Big Water Guide has all the flotation you could need. The fit and the adjustment keeps this PFD snug to your body. An essential factor to keep you safe, it also maximises your movement and freedom to paddle through the white water.


NRS Ninja

NRS Ninja

Weight: 2.15 lbs.
Floatation: 16.3 lbs.
USCG Rating: Type III
Entry system: Side Buckle

The NRS Ninja is a PFD designed for athletic freedom and uninhibited performance. This PFD is suitable for paddlers of any discipline, whether you’re a recreational kayaker, exploring open lakes or heading down raging rapids.


NRS cVest Mesh Back

NRS cVest Mesh Back

Weight: 1.9 lbs.
Floatation: 16 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS CVest is a step away from recreational kayaking and into the realms of touring or sea kayaking. However, the cVest does have a high back design and is therefore perfect for kayaks with high backed seats. The mesh back is also great for warm environments, where you’ll benefit from the fact you’re not overheating like you do in some full backed PFDs.


NRS Chinook

NRS Chinook

Weight: 2 lbs.
Floatation: 16 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Chinook is the world’s best selling angling PFD, and it’s easy to see why. A high back design is usually favored for kayak fishing, where the top end kayaks have highly evolved, supportive and comfortable seats. The mesh back is great for long days on the water too, not only allowing you to stay cool as you fish, but maximizing movement for both paddling and fishing.


NRS Shenook

NRS Shenook

Weight: 1.9 lbs.
Floatation: 16 lbs.
US Coast Guard Type: III
Entry system: Front zip

Made for female anglers, the NRS Shenook PFD is all the high quality of the incredibly popular Chinook but with a comfortable female fit. The articulated plush panelling is perfect for the female form, so you can be as comfortable as possible throughout long days of fishing.


NRS Odyssey

NRS Odyssey

Weight: 1.9 lbs.
Floatation: 16.5 lbs
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Odyssey is a fully decked out sea kayaking PFD. If you’re heading out for a day of sea kayaking or touring in a more technical kayak with lower profile outfitting, a full back PFD with less bulk on the front is what you need.


NRS Big Water V

NRS Big Water V

Weight: 2.8 lbs.
Floatation: 25.1 lbs.
US Coast Guard Classification: Type V
Entry system: Front buckle

NRS Big Water V is a comfortable and easy to use commercial whitewater PFD. This PFD is also durable and floats you really high out of the water, the perfect combination for commercial rafting.


NRS Raku

NRS Raku

Weight: 2.1 lbs.
Floatation: 16.75 lbs
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

The front of this PFD might look remarkably like NRS Chinook, but the Raku is the only NRS fishing PFD which has a full back. This allows the entire PFD to be made from slimmer foam, making it less bulky, more close fitting and figure hugging.


NRS Chinook OS Fishing

NRS Chinook OS Fishing

Weight: 2 lbs.
Floatation: 16 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type III
Entry system: Front zip

If you want to take your fishing out into the open ocean, NRS Chinook OS will allow you to retain all the fishing prowess of the ever popular Chinook, but the open water prowess of a sea kayaking PFD.


NRS Matik Inflatable

NRS Matik Inflatable

Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Floatation: 22.5 lbs
USCG Classification: Type V. Meets requirements for Type III when worn.
Entry system: Over the head with waist buckle.

NRS Matik PFD resembles the more traditional life jacket. This inflatable PFD is sometimes preferred by those who want pure freedom when they’re kayaking, but require immediate floatation if they fall overboard. Offshore kayak anglers sometimes benefit from the enormous amounts of flotation these PFDs offer, too.


NRS Otto Matik Inflatable

NRS Otto Matik Inflatable

Weight: 1.85 lbs.
Floatation: 22.5 lbs.
USCG Classification: Type V. Meets requirements for type III when worn.
Entry system: Over the head with waist buckle.

Otto Matik. Get it? The Otto Matik, like the infamous Otto Pilot from cult favourite Airplane!, is a self-inflating automatic alternative to human operation. In simpler terms, when you hit the water, your PFD inflates and floats you back to the surface.


NRS Zen Rescue

NRS Zen Rescue

Weight: 3 lbs.
Floatation: 18.6 lbs.
US Coast Guard Classification: Type V
Entry system: Side buckle

The NRS Zen is a low profile rescue jacket for high end whitewater situations. It has all the necessary features for guides and experienced paddlers in swiftwater rescue situations. This PFD is jam-packed with features which make it not just a rescue capable vest, but also a really comfortable PFD to paddle steep creeks and make high pressure moves.


NRS Rapid Rescuer

NRS Rapid Rescuer

Weight: 3.75 lbs.
Floatation: 21.9 lbs.
US Coast Guard Classification: Type V
Entry system: Front zip

NRS Rapid Rescuer PFD is hardy enough to be used by swiftwater rescue crews, but comfortable enough to be worn all day long. The eight adjustment points and universal sizing alone make this a really easy PFD to fit.

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