Monday, June 13, 2011

Stearn's Puddle Jumper Review

This is our second year using Stearn's Puddle Jumper life vests, and high time I wrote a little review on them.  If you are not familiar with these life jackets, they are sort of a cross between a life jacket and water wings. I used old fashioned water wings with Miss K from about age 2, and thought that they worked really well (despite later hearing some warnings about them not being safe). I remember using them as a child, so perhaps there was some nostalgia involved, as well. In any case, I liked them (and still do!) and found that they provided enough buoyancy to keep Miss K above water, but not so much that she would just bob around like a cork. The water wings also didn't inhibit movement like a full life jacket did; I bought a life vest for her at one point and she refused to wear it and said it was too tight. I understand parents want to keep their kids safe, but I received a Puddle Jumper as a sample last year, just as 3 year old Miss K was taking off her water wings and swimming a few strokes unassisted. At first I was a little disappointed because I had been so excited about her swimming with no floatation device, and once she tried the Puddle Jumper, she ONLY wanted to swim with the Puddle Jumper. Well, I have to say that this PFD has grown on me a lot since last year- so much that I ended up getting a second one for Miss H, and she loves it just as much. You get the best of both water wings and a life jacket. They are sturdy (we have lost a couple of inflatable wings to children biting through them), comfortable, and cute. I like that the Puddle Jumper is short in the front and open in the back (except for the strap and buckle) and therefore much less restricting than a full life vest, yet is still categorized as a Type V US Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket with Type III performance (which means that it must be buckled in the back and is good for general boating in calm, inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue). The Puddle Jumper comes in one size and fits 30- 50 lbs. 
(I don't recommend this, but we use these vests- with very close supervision- slightly under the minimum weight; Miss H is not yet 30 lbs. and is able to slip out of her Puddle Jumper when she is on the dock.)

You can pick up Stearns Puddle Jumpers for around $20 on Amazon, and they qualify for free Amazon Prime Shipping with your Amazon Mom account! (I LOVE Amazon Mom- I've got free Prime shipping for the next year!! Have you signed up yet!?)

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