Updated: Sep 29, 2021
As the new members on our rescue team we quickly learned that we were going to have to make some purchases with our own money. We already had our own PFDs, but they were type III. Not only were they meant for recreation, they were bright blue--which caused us to stick out like sore thumbs and looked really bad in media photos. The photos were the final straw for me. I decided to use my own cash to get us (my teammate and I) type Vs, and I was determined to get the best type Vs I could find. The money spent out of pocket would be a tax deduction later on.
I searched endlessly on Amazon, almost settling on an Astral, and then a Force 6, and then it was going to be an NRS PFD or maybe a Kokatat (yes I spent hours trying to pick the perfect vest). It needed to look good. Even more important than that, it needed to serve its purpose. It needed to be high viz. It needed to hold all of the necessary tools and gear that a rescuer would need. It had to be durable. It had to fit, and the price had to be right, especially because I was buying more than one of them.
Mustang was the answer to all of my demands! The Universal Swift Water Rescue Vest, (MRV150V02) was everything I was looking for. Most importantly I knew ahead of time it was going to fit my 5'3" team member who I was also shopping for--definitely try to find a way to try on the vest you want to buy before doing it. When you are internet shopping that becomes difficult. Also, make sure you are wearing your dry suit when you try it on because that will change they way it fits to some degree.
This vest has MOLLE, its high viz/reflective, 25 lbs of float, D rings, pockets with drains, a quick release belt, a grab handle, a Velcro rectangle for name patches or unit numbers, and it has more MOLLE on the back. This PFD is a gear fan's dream come true. You truly can not go wrong with this vest. Mustang undoubtedly did their homework before putting this on the market. It was made for rescuers with input from rescuers.
Your PFD search is over, you're welcome!!!
No more bad media photos for us. Everyone on our team wishes they had this vest, and to be honest at this point most of them have purchased one. Not only is it an investment into our team that shows we care, it also has applications in white water paddling with the use of quick release leashes. This was a double win for me.
A quick side note for you: this universal fit vest adjusts larger than Mustang's previous universal model.
Update: 1/24/21, several months after making this purchase I am still extremely happy with it and have customized it to my liking with patches and my own gear set up. An additional positive point worth mentioning is that because they are not team owned vests they aren't being shared between people and they are always adjusted correctly to fit us.
I will continue to update with information about how these PFD's hold up over time.
Stay safe and wear your PFD!