Are all paddling PFDs made for kayaks?

Are all modern quality Type III PFDs designed for kayakers? I am specifically refering to the ubiquitous high back that clears the combing of a kayak, but is not required (or even desired?) in a canoe. If you can’t put flotation in the lower back area, I assume you’ve got to put more bulk elsewhere?

Flotation doesn’t belong in the lower
back anyway. More should be in front so you are more apt to float face up.

The old time PFDs with flotation around the hips were warmer though, not doubt.

Not all type III are meant for kayaks

– Last Updated: Nov-30-14 11:17 AM EST –

If I understand your question correctly. The types are coast guard categories and have more to do with how long it twill take to get rescued.
Type III's come designed for specic activities, kayaking, water skiing, fishing, and the generic orange $4 horse collars.
Kayak vests do tend to concentrate the flotation on your bossom but mine is comfortable enough I have worn it canoeing many times. It does not prevent any range of motion but it can take getting use to.I also have a big loose fishing PFD I wear when canoeing creeks I could mostly stand up in.
In a kayak if you wear the ski style the bottom is going to run across the middle of the seat back right across your kidneys
and be pretty uncomfortable after a couple hours.

Speaking as both canoeist and kayaker
and as one who has had a variety of life jackets since 1973, I find that today, life jackets that work right in my kayaks also work right in canoes. Life jackets that are too bulky or stiff, that ride up when swimming, and that resist torso rotation, do so whether I am using them in my canoes or my kayaks.

I made, from a kit, a Wildwater Hifloat jacket with 32 pounds of flotation, some of which extended down the back. It was not nearly as comfortable as my favorite, my 15 year old Lotus Sherman, which doesn’t ride up, which doesn’t resist rotation, and which is more satisfactory in general than my brand new Stohlquist Rocker.

The real problem is that new life jackets are covered with bells and whistles, but often do not meet basic design goals.

No - pounds of flotaion

– Last Updated: Nov-30-14 11:49 AM EST –

What most matters is the pounds of flotation, more than where they put it. Current paddling PFD's usually go 16 to 20 pounds of flotation.

For a smaller person like me, any of them have plenty of flotation. But it you are a bigger person, you might want to be at the top end of the available range. As said above, more often than not these days it'll be made up by thickness more than length.

You should be addressing warmth by the type of clothing and layers you wear.

Rephrasing my question
Is there a quality paddling PFD on the market today that has lower back flotation and would thus be unsuitable for kayaks?

A paddling PFD?

– Last Updated: Nov-30-14 1:53 PM EST –

A kayaking PFD won't have lower back flotation. There is no specific PFD design for canoeing or, as far as I know, SUPing. Lots of quality Type III PFD's have lower back flotation because they are not designed for kayaking. If your in a canoe wear whatever you feel like. In a Kayak the issue is the edge of the PFD flotation across your kidneys.

Edit to add

I guess if your looking at store adds, a "paddling PFD" implies kayaking PFD which you could wear in a canoe but don't necessarily need that type. FYI I wouldn't buy one as a gif if that's what you're thinkingt. They really need to be tried on in the store.

What ARE you trying to do?
If you want warmth in the lower back, add more clothing in that area.

If you want something that functions as support for the lower back, use a seatback or maybe a girdle-like band.

When flotation in the lower back of a PFD hinders movement or hits the sprayskirt, like it can with a kayak, the padding is beefed up in the upper back or in front.

Not to my knowledge
The last pfd that had floatation in the lower back and was warmer and thus particularly suitable for canoe tripping, was the extrasport B27, discontinued:

Any PFD that fits down over the "small"
of the back would hinder rotational movement.

If you need support I wouldn’t substitute any medical

apparatus with recreational gear…

That’s the one I made from a kit. Its
main asset was its huge flotation. The downward extension of the HiFloat had no real purpose other than to hold flotation. It was hard to swim in it, and it was not comfortable for paddling. It was designed in the early phase of modern whitewater paddling, and in my view should be viewed as a primitive mistake. I say that although I know and admire the designer.

kayakers liked the shorter version of
that basic design- but on the model shown you could flip up the bottom section if you chose so it wouldn’t rub against a spray skirt. I like the new designs better but I was kinda slow to come around. I do have the “big water guide” jacket by nrs and I used it some for winter paddling. I like the extra warmth on cold days and I want something that floats me real high if I do swim in the river that time of year. You give up some mobility with paddle motion and swimming with a big jacket.

yeah he’s a pretty big boy,
and a nice guy, but I don’t think I’d want to get on the designer’s bad side. At the time, the high float was a huge step in the right direction, away from horse collars and ski vest and such. The fact that you could get it made for ya by extrasport was good rather than just kit form. You needed all that flotation if you used it beyond its reasonable life span. The foam compressed down to nothin’ after a few hundred trips. The overall idea just needed some refinement. In big continuous water it still might prevent a flush drowning or then again you might just become hole bait and get caught in the spin cycle. It kinda felt like my security blanket, I’m a bit like Linus- I still don’t paddle without at least some kinda of blanky.

I think I know
I think I know what he’s looking for. As a single blade solo canoer, I find the high mounted flotation of kayak PFDs restrictive. I have tried other canoers prized old segmented, full torso PVDs and they work better. They don’t make them anymore and know one will part with theirs.


Astrals have flotation lower
So they are not a super boob. More like a super waist.

They don’t restrict movement.

Another problem with the HiFloat and
similar for kayaks is that, compared to designs like the Lotus Sherman, those big fat tubes pick up a lot of water and create a lot of drag, making rolling much more difficult. It’s important for rolling that a life jacket sit fairly tight to the body, create little drag during rolling, and pick up little water that has to be lifted above the river surface to complete the roll.

Here are some examples.

Just curious though. What exactly are you looking for that you don’t feel is commensurate with a modern fit?

Just trying to…
…find a nice PFD.

My thinking was:

I don’t kayak. The paddling PFDs I see are designed with high backs for kayaks. Therefore, I was wondering if there are PFDs that are not designed with high backs for kayaks that I should also consider.

In a canoe I wouldn’t worry
about a paddling PFD.

For max comfort in warm weather the fishing PFDs are mesh topped and most the flotation is around the waist or maybe spend $80 on an inflatable.

Or for a better float in the water consider the water sport PFD’s which fit like long vests with 3/4- 1/2 an inch of flotation evenly distributed. Designed for water skis or jet boats, there is a wide variety.

IMO you’re overthinking it. Low profile PFDs are extremely comfy and unrestrictive (whether one is paddling or swimming) and shouldn’t be considered kayaking only equipment. As a fellow open boater I believe you’d be happy with one.