NRS Zen Type V Personal Flotation Device

For paddlers and guides.

NRS designed its Zen Personal Floatation Device for paddlers and guides who need swiftwater rescue features like a quick-release belt. Despite its heavy-duty Cordura fabric and reinforced shoulder straps, this PFD is surprisingly comfortable to wear thanks to its front floating panel that provides a great fit as well as a place to put your hands when it gets cold. NRS stuffed this type V PFD with PVC-free foam for 17.5 pounds of flotation. A side entry makes the Zen easy to take on and off, and four side and two shoulder straps dial in your ideal fit. This life vest also features a large front pocket and an inner pocket to hold all your rescue essentials so you can stay safe out on the water.

  • USCG Type V PFD
  • 17.5 pounds of flotation
  • Quick-release rescue belt
  • Cordura fabric
  • PVC-free foam
  • Side entry
  • Four side and two shoulder adjustments
  • Reinforced shoulder straps
  • Front floating panel, front pocket, and inside pocket
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

First PFD

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is my first PFD and although i have tried on and borrowed alot of others I can't say I am an expert by any means. I can speak to the comfort tough and I have found that for a Class V PFD it is quite comfortable even for all day rowing. The pockets are well thought out and while there is alot going on in terms of straps It doesn't take much time to figure out how all of it works. It is also super super buoyant and keeps you right on the surface.

I am 5'10 160 and I went with a S/M

Unanswered Question

What is the average weight of the Type V Zen vest?

Tried and True

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is a great no frills Type V PFD. If you are looking for more comfort and features try the Green Jacket from Astral, Kokatat Maximus, or the Stohlquist Descent. I used it for 2 seasons of guiding on the New and Gauley in WV and have since used it as a kayak vest.



If you are looking for a good vest for both rafting and kayaking I would say that this is one of the better ones out there. However, it feels better in the kayak than it does in the raft. Getting in and out of the raft it feels kind of like having a turtle shell on your belly. In the kayak it is out of the way enough to not really notice it.



I am 6'2" 175 and I picked up the L/XL and it fit well.

Tried and True

A Great Class V PFD

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I use this for Swiftwater Rescue and it's perfect. Lots of adjustability to make sure that it stays put when the river gets crazy. The fleece lined pockets are great for keeping your hands warm too! The cut of the PFD is also great for swimming and staying out of your way. Plenty of floatation too.

Why I returned this item

    I bought this for my daughter for Christmas and there are a lot of straps going on with it. It seemed like there were a lot of places for it to get caught on if she happens to get caught under water. She loved the warm hand pocket and felt like it was a great fit for her though. I bought her a small and she is 5'6" and 130 lbs.

    Awsome PFD to get your guide on!

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    First PFD i have gotten the wonderful opportunity to buy! Love guiding on Tomales Bay in it because I get the ability to store a bunch of needed materials for stuff like writing down the compass course for the first point of reference, small easily accessible med kit, and snacks!!!

    Really do appreciate the liner on the inside of the the pocket. It really is the small things that make you little bit more comfortable in a not so warm situation,

    A good all around PFD that fits pretty well, with some great features that will make you happy when it really comes down to it!

    I really like the jacket

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    I really like the jacket. It's the first real paddler's jacket I've bought, and is a great jacket for paddling and whitewater sports. I'm pretty skinny so it's nice to find a jacket that I can get to fit me.

    Good fit...if you are a guy

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I guess being small chested and slim is not your average "S/M" in the PFD world. However, you can tighten it down pretty well. The jacket is a great rescue vest if you are a kayaker but not the best if you are a rafting. It will be adequate in a rafting scenario but the knife holder placement is totally off. You can't get back onto a raft without popping your knife off. Good one NRS... But it is cheaper than the Astral Green Jacket and still has a fleece chest pocket for those cold days. Also, I can fit my river map in one of the slide-in pockets on the chest of the PFD. All in all I would buy this again if they added a different knife holder placement.

    Good fit...if you are a guy

    Awesome jacket

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    If your looking at an astral life jacket but its to expensive. It was the same as my situation as mine. This was the next best jacket for a sick price. Small and is full of range in the arms. Super sick. IT HAS HAND WARMERS!!!!

    cheap, uncomfortable.

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    I wasn't too please when I first took this out of the box. The construction and materials just appeared cheap and low quality.

    while there were lots of adjustments, I couldn't quite get this jacket to fit right. Not much storage for such a bulky vest.



    Biggest issue that I found was the shoulder adjustments were located EXACTLY where you shoulder your kayak!!!?! This made it really uncomfortable to carry my creek boat for any length of time.



    Don't buy this PFD, there are many better options for close to the same price.