Like many of you, I've operated a bass boat since long before I could legally drive a vehicle; it's essentially all I've ever known. But I'm very careful not to use my boating experience as an excuse to disregard common sense safety measures. I always wear my PFD—or life jacket—each and every time I'm on the water. If my outboard is running, it's on and tethered to my kill switch.
I've been wearing and using the Mustang Accel 100 Fishing Vest for the past several weeks and there are several design features I really like about it. It's not as fancy as the more expensive hydrostatic models, but it certainly has its place in a fishing boat.
What you will like about it
The Mustang Accel 100 Fishing Vest is tailor-made for two things—chilly weather and running fast. I usually wear a Large t-shirt, so I went with the Extra-Large size in this life jacket. I wanted to have some extra room for my layers and outerwear come winter.
This model features a fleece-lined collar and pockets which have been awesome on those early morning, pre-dawn boat rides across the lake. I was initially a bit worried that the fleece would get too wet and stinky after heavy use or foul weather, but I've found that it actually dries quiet quickly and repels odor well. When my boat isn't on the water, it has been stuffed into a rod locker and there's absolutely no stink or signs of mildew to speak of.
Although small, the pockets keep your hands surprisingly warm and they're in a practical place. It's very comfortable and natural if you need to stick your hands in the pockets—you're not dislocating a shoulder and monkeying around with awkward movements and hand placements.
The segmented foam is a nice touch, too. From what I can tell, there are 5 individual pieces of AirSoft foam in this life jacket. I can't get all technical on the specifics of AirSoft foam, but it feels nothing like most of the cheaper life jackets you can pick up in town. It's much more flexible which makes the Mustang Accel 100 the most comfortable foam life jacket I've ever worn. When I'm idling over and graphing long stretches of structure, I don't even realize I'm wearing a life jacket—and that's how it should be.
My experience with it
I have been thoroughly impressed by this life jacket thus far. We've had some crazy weather lately, so I've had an opportunity to use it in various conditions. The body of the Accel 100 isn't necessarily hot, but the collar can make things just a bit balmy in temperatures over 80 degrees when you're sitting still or idling—it's actually quite comfortable when running across the lake.
But I believe this life jacket is perfect for temperatures less than 80 degrees. It has provided some nice warmth for me when running 70 miles per hour on a 50-degree morning, but its foam is breathable enough to keep me comfortable as the day warms up to the 80-degree range.
I absolutely love how the Accel 100 does not ride-up while I'm driving my boat—not even a little bit. I've worn a lot of life jackets in the past that'll almost strangle you every time you sit down, but this model has been nothing but pure comfort. I can haul tail across the water without adjusting the Accel 100 a single time. The combination of the heavy-duty zipper and big buckles keep everything in place excellently.
I also like the D-ring that's conveniently located on the bottom-right of the jacket. I have a carabiner on the end of my kill switch cord, so I simply clip it on to the D-ring and get the show on the road. It can't be much simpler than that.
I will certainly be using this life jacket until the humidity and oppressive heat of the Georgia summer comes back around—then I'll probably switch to my Mustang HIT Auto-Hydrostatic in an attempt to stay (somewhat) cool in 110-degree temperatures.
This life jacket is both comfortable and sharp-looking. I think its $89.99 price point is actually very fair—I would have guessed it would have been at least $150. If you're in the market for a new foam life jacket, this one certainly gets my vote.