My kids love fishing. They never really had a choice in the matter – they were surrounded by it from the day they were born. But I never pushed them to like it; it happened naturally and in a fun way. My son is now 7 and it’s really all he wants to do. “Can we go fishing tomorrow?” is asked at least once a day.
The problem with boat fishing is he has to wear a life jacket and he hates it, and my daughter is the same. He feels restricted in movement, he gets hot, constantly tells me it’s uncomfortable and that he can’t fish properly.
A kid whingeing is a good way to ruin a day’s fishing, so we tried a few different styles and none changed his opinion. I didn’t blame him either, as most jackets are a bad fit, too bulky and have noisy, uncomfortable materials that reduce movement and make even simple tasks like sitting comfortably difficult – let alone casting and working a soft plastic when you’re new to it.
Victorian law states that children must wear a life jacket equipped with a collar and a crotch strap, so should the worst-case scenario happen where the child is knocked unconscious, or someone is unable to assist, it rolls them onto their back, holds them upright and they’re able to breathe. It makes sense to have these laws in place to prevent tragedy, but it doesn’t help when a kid is trying to fish on an open boat where it can get hot and they’re uncomfortable.
I was therefore stoked when the guys at JM Gillies (which owns and distributes the new Response range of PFDs) mentioned a great new kids range and sent me a few of the P100 jackets for my kids. This range is fully certified to current Australian standards and has been designed with greater comfort in mind.
As soon as I opened the box I could see the difference in design and quality. All the essentials were there: reflective tape, accessible whistle (which they’re strongly banned from using unless in an emergency, and I advise other parents to do the same – no one likes hearing that on the water), high-quality zippers, clips and outer material.
Once on, the Response offers a much better fit. They’re not bulky, offer free movement in the arms and the collar doesn’t bunch up around the head. The foam is thinner and better placed to make them more comfortable when sitting, and little things such as a soft neoprene cover around the crotch strap make them far more comfortable.
For me a huge advantage is that they fold and stow away easier than many similar jackets on the market, saving much-needed storage space in the boat. The other huge advantage is less whingeing and more fishing and fun times. If you’re a mum or dad looking for a safe and comfortable way to keep the kids happy while fishing and boating, I highly recommend these. You’ll be spending around $65-70 for these jackets but it’s worth it for safety and a good time on the water.
Words & Images: Kosta Linardos
Distributed by: JM Gillies