Best Hot Weather PFD

What have you found to be the most comfortable and coolest PFD for warm/hot weather kayaking in a SOT kayak with a high back seat? I currently use an inflatable type PFD but I would like to find a comfortable regular type PFD for hot weather paddling. Your recommendations would be appreciated.

Some are better than others, but none
are better than the inflatable. Consider Mustang auto-inflatable that inflates on submersion, as opposed to the other auto-inflates that inflate with minimum water contact.

This is not popular advice on p-net, but for warm weather, flat water the most comfortable PFD is the one that fits under your deck straps. I am not trying to be a smart a** - I use my seat belt, wear a bike helmet and am a firm believer in safety equipment appropriate to the risk. BUt for the situation you describe, unles you have a physical disability or are a very weak swimmer, weigh the strong possibilty of overheating and chafing while wearing a PFD against the remote possibilty that it will save you and make up your own mind.

over heating and chaffing?? seriously!?
I live and paddle all year round in the SE - even in the summer. I have never had a problem (or heard of anybody having a problem) with overheating or chaffing as a direct result of wearing a PFD.

Seriously does this happen?

I paddle in a PFD with a neoprene spraydeck year round. It gets hot, but not overheating hot. And where does one chaff as a result of a PFD?

Thigh straps…
and learning to roll. Or brace. Or hip snap on a partner’s SOT. If you must. PFD’s are not really that hot. It is like the princess and the pea. Hyper-sensitivity. Or, just hop off, get thoroughly wet and hop back on.

If overheating or chafing is a problem, maybe the wrong PFD is being used. For this item (as for many others) you generally get what you pay for. Writing as a canoeist (who may not understand 'yak-specific issues), I know there are very-low-profile & mesh-backed models that should be perfectly comfortable – althought maybe not priced at $45 or so.

I’m concluding another very hot summer on my Southern waterway with no discomfort unrelated to age. I take lots of fluid with me, and I always wear my PFD.

Kokatat Orbit
Someone had to answer your question.


Lotus Mildwater

Stick with it!!
“Your recommendations would be appreciated.”

I’d recommend an inflatable. I think you should stick with what you have. I live in Miami, and I use an inflatable; I don’t even own a regular PFD. For hot weather, and in your case, a high seat back, you can’t beat an inflatable. If you know how to swim, I think a manual one is better. If you don’t swim, an automatic inflatable, in addition to swimming lessons, is best.

Pedro Almeida

How high a seat?
Most of the non-inflatable, as in foam, PFD’s I’ve seen that are low profile for hot weather also tend to sacrifice presence higher up to leave tons of room for upper body movement and put the floatation down lower. Stolhquist has one that is shaped similarly to the two mentioned above I think, but either are great hot weather regular PFD’s.

Thing is, if you have a really high seat back these may not work well either. Do you really have to have that or could you just strip it out and use a lower backband>

Stohlquist Brik or inflatable
I have both. The Brik is very low profile, plenty of floatation, the most comfortable non-inflatable I have found. Having said that, I almost never wear it, because I still find it too hot for serious exercise paddling, and because it chafes my lats and underarm area once I start to seriously sweat (I’m also paddling with a wing and employing a fair amount of rotation). With a sleeved shirt on this isn’t really a problem, but sleeveless or shirtless is pretty bad.

So, 99% of the time I paddle without a PFD on. When I am required to have one for a race, I use an inflatable belt type PFD, USCG approved. You don’t even notice you have it on. I’m not really sure how well it would actually work, but I don’t care since I’m only wearing it to fulfill someone’s race requirements. Actually, in the Mayor’s Cup and in the US Surfski Champs I (and others) wore them without the CO2 cartridge installed, since we weren’t able to bring them on the airplane with us…


I’m a weak swimmer but if I get knocked out I figure I’ll be floating face-down anyway, so I opted for the pull cord manual inflation. That allows for rolling.

Astral Hybrid
3/4" thick back, super low profile, open sides. 22lb floatation when inflated, 8lb floatation uninflated.

Some on eBay! Stores.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

If one fishes, one should stay away
from PFD’s with mesh. Hooks seem to find that stuff where ever its located.

I confess
I almost always get hot with a PFD on and when I have to wear one due to club rules,but on calm warm water,I wear it unfastened-it’s a lot cooler that way.


Astral LDB

– Last Updated: Oct-25-07 7:14 PM EST –

Designed for high seat backs, has mesh back, filled with kapok, can be unzipped while attached for ventilation, under $100

The Orbit -
I use the Kokatat Orbit Tour, and having paddled almost all of my life in Newfoundland on the cool ocean, I am now in a desert, the okanogan valley of BC, landlocked with only large lakes and that are VERY warm. I still wear my PFD at all times on the water, whether I am paddling sea kayaks, surfskis, or anything at all.

I suffer greatly in the heat here, pfd no pfd, clothes no clothes - I am dying a little each day from the heat and have tried the following pFDs from the shop I work

Astral Tempo 200

Astral Wondertour

Kokatat Outfit Tour

Kokatat Orbit Tour

Kokatat Bahia Tour (hi back - encourages airflow)

Stohlquist Cruiser and Trekker

The Cruiser and trekker were pretty good too, and somethign that wasn’t going to keep me too warm was high up on my priority list - but I couldn’t beat the Kokatat Orbit Tour, works in all the different boats i am paddling these days and fits over drysuits for when I go to the coast - and soon when I get back to NL

Good Luck toy ou


Astral LDB
This is actually the one that I was thinking about.

No one here locally (Ft Lauderdale area) sells it

that I know of. I would have to buy sight unseen.

They are always on Ebay. Just hate to spend $100

for something I can’t even try on…


Hey Andrew
I entered a race in Chattanooga where they required me to pull my inflatable out of its pouch on my belt and wear it around my neck. I decided to just wear my Astral Newton which is not CG approved.

Are you talking about the vest one or the belt? I really didn’t like the vests, but the belt is great!