Jump to content

PFD Recommendations

Recommended Posts



...there are probably as many opinions on PFDs as there are body types...and a less discrete person than myself might point out that we cover the whole range of body types here at NSPN...

my generic advice would be to hit a few stores and try them all on. wave your arms...make a fool of yourself. if you want to save $$ and mail order, do it after you figure out what feels good (though you may want to show your appreciation to the local vendor by buying where you find it).

my personal experience (6'1", 200 lbs, middle-age paunch, sort-of-average paddler) is the Stohlquist 5702. my modifications (tsk tsk, illegal i think) include a knife patch mid-chest left of the zipper, and a VHF bungee-sling on the right shoulder about even with the chin. there is a nice zipper mesh pocket on the right which is big enough for a few odds and ends, so I haven't added any more storage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MTI makes some great PFDs at very affordable prices, I used one for several years. It took at lot of abuse and it's still going.

Last year I picked up an Extra Sport Retro Glide PFD, it's got great pockets, it's shoulder strap length is adjustable, and it's very comfortable. The shoulder straps are slightly elastic, so they're comfortable, although I think that bit of stretch makes them a pain when someone has to haul you up by the shoulder straps.

I would recommend trying on lots and lots of pfds and "paddling" with them on in the store. Fit is a very personel thing and we're all shaped differently. Personally I have never found a Lotus PFD that I am comfortable in, others rave about thier fit, go figure. Try, try, try, before you buy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest guest

Look at the new Astral Bouyancy vests. This is a new company with vests designed by the guy who used to be with Lotus. I've just purchased a womens vest from them and they appear to be really well made and have a unique fit system which works really well.


Their website is www.astralbouyancy.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the Boston Paddlesports Show (Wilderness House) on Saturday I talked with the Astral rep. He said they are coming out with a pfd for sea kayakers very soon. There were some intriguing things about the Astrals.

For durability, you might want to get a recommendation from Adam. :-))

When you try pfds on, sit in a boat. Don't just stand there.

Liz N.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like anything else, PFD design is a compromize. If you try to put as much of the buoyancy low (low rider design), it limits the amount of pocket capacity you can add without creating interference while paddling. Built-in tow systems are handy and their height helps keep the rope clear of the stern of the boat, but they create more leverage against your body than waist mounted systems (because the attachment point is higher) and they're difficult to share with other paddlers. "Rescue" PFDs also tend to be very expensive, as they have additional reinforcementj ("strong swimmer harness") designed to allow a person to be hauled from raging whitewater by the PFD. This seems like overkill for sea kayaking...at least most of it.

In terms of pocket capacity, the Kokatat MsFit Tour is outstanding, but it's made for people with relatively short torsos. I love the fit, but it may not work for you. They also offer the ProFit Tour, which is longer, but gives up one pocket for some unknown reason. Both styles are available in a rescue model with built in tow systems.

Try a few and see what works for you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It didn't seem that this thread is complete without a plug for Lotus Designs. I have a Rio Grande that has lasted 7 years without showing anymore for its service than a bit of fading. I moved it into the guest slot to make room for a StraitJacket at the end of last season. The StraitJacket is completely adjustable, very comfortable without restriction for a full racing stroke. It has two pockets one big and one bigger, knife attachment and a point strobe holder.

I am fond of front zipper style but the make pull-over and side zip styles too. Good gear.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...