NRS has been making one of the top PFDs on the market for kayak anglers for years in the Chinook. The only PFD solution the team at NRS hadn’t tackled moving into 2019 was an inflatable solution for those of us in the south who fish in 100-degree temps and high humidity. Not only did NRS tackle the inflatable PFD offering in late summer but they did it twice. NRS now offers the Matik and Otto Matik inflatable PFD. The Otto Matik is an auto inflating PFD and the Matik, the PFD I’m reviewing for this article, is a manually inflated PFD by pull tab or inflation tube.
An alternative to waist-belted PFDs, the low-profile NRS Matik Inflatable PFD resembles a traditional lifevest with the compact convenience of an inflatable.
- This lightweight self-inflating PFD provides 22.5 lbs. of flotation and only meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements as a Type III life jacket when worn. (See Note below.)
- The Matik folds compactly into a low-profile horse-collar style jacket to give you on-demand flotation that doesn’t get in your way stand-up paddling, fishing or wading.
- When deflated, the vest secures with a waist buckle and offers one adjustment point for a snug fit.
- In the event of a swim, pull the red tab to engage the pressurized CO2, inflating the integrated bladder.
- Features a zippered pocket with internal tether for keys or a whistle plus a manual backup cord, mouth inflation valve, reflective accents and two attachment points.
- Includes a 24 gram CO2 cartridge. Replacement CO2 Re-Arming Kits (Item #40100.01) are sold separately.
- CO2 cartridges are one-time-use only. It’s good practice to keep an extra CO2 cartridge on hand to re-arm the PFD after each inflation.
Note: An inflatable PFD is certified by the US Coast Guard as a Type V PFD. However, it meets Coast Guard requirements for Type III PFDs when it is worn. In other words, you must be wearing the deflated collar for it to qualify as a required flotation device.
The Good : NRS Matik PFD
At long last, we have an inflatable from NRS! I’ve waited several years for this and it didn’t disappoint. Several things about this manually inflatable PFD stuck out to me as great features.
The fit is great on the Matik. It lays very flat against the body and isn’t hard to get on and off. It’s also very breathable and comfortable. I tested it during a demo day with temperatures in the low 90s. I had it on for a little over three hours moving kayaks, paddling, pedaling, and being very active and didn’t sweat through my shirt where the Matik had contact. That’s a great sign of breathability. Us folks in the heat down here really appreciate that.
The large pocket in the front has a key tether but I actually use it to hold my phone and license. It fits my iPhone X so it should fit a great majority of the phones out there. Even in a case.
I like the fact that the jacket opens via velcro and isn’t a damageable bladder that inflates outside of the jacket. The Matik is very easy to repack and rearm should you need to use it inflated. While it’s inflated, the interior has reflective stripes to help you be found easier at night when a spotlight or flashlight might be used to search. You also have a manual inflation tube should the cartridge have a failure.
The D-rings are also a nice touch. I use it to hang my whistle from which is necessary to meet Texas law regarding kayak fishing.
An important note about sizing, the Matik is made to accommodate a chest size between 30-52″ and a waist size between 30-58″.
Points of Improvement
I like the stripes that are reflective for night searches however, I think a good addition would either be fluorescent stripes in between the reflective stripes or making the Matik in a colorway like bright lime green or safety orange.
I really don’t know if it’s possible or not but if it is, I’d love to see a four-way receptacle for a rescue knife on the internal of the Matik where the stripes are located. If it were on the outside where the pocket is it might be unreachable after inflation but on the interior, you could open the side panel to get to the knife when not inflated and then if inflated would be on the outside of the vest. An NRS CoPilot might be too heavy but the Neko might work.
Final Thoughts on the NRS Matik
If you are fishing areas that an auto inflatable isn’t needed or wanted, the Matik manually inflated PFD is as good as any out there and at a lower price point than about half of the market listed at $150. The Matik will be in my line up for any water without rapids, powerboats, or quick strike dangers.