Best low-profile PFD

Looking for lowest profile PFD that WW paddlers might use (e.g, Astral Buoyancy Hybrid, Kokatat Orbit or MsFit, etc). Little use for zippers, pockets, straps, etc.

I used to use the Orbit Tour, the front panel is really thick. Worked well enough though. How about Astral Willis?

Ive used the Orbit tour
for many years, though I was never really in love with it. I am a sea kayaker and no whitewater trips to really speak of that would be worth telling.

I have since switched over to the Stohlquist xtract. However, this is not in the line of pfds you are referring.

I stand at five foot six inches tall and weigh between 135 and 140 pounds and could never really get the orbit tour to sit proper

Palm Fusion or Freestyle
Fusion is current stock. I have the Freestyle. They look the same except the Freestyle has five separate straps, the Fusion cut it down to one wide strap on each side:

Palm PFDs are sold via MTI. MTI is warranty contact as well.

don’t know if it’s the “best” but going into the third season w. mine. Great vest. Stays on, out of the way,no clutter, no shifting.

Big cuts for shoulders front and back, but doesn’t shift and slip off a shoulder like the Orbits did when I tried them on (Orbit and Orbit Tour).

No clunky zipper. D pocket is self draining w. an inside clip. I crank down all the straps for fit and never need to readjust them on or off the water.

Color may not matter to you but I much prefer the black & silver fabric w. black neoprene w. Solas outlines.

Astral Buoyancy LDB
I use this for sea kayaking. It’s so comfortable and fits so well that I don’t know it’s on. I roll, brace and swim with it all the time.

Most of the flotation is on the front but doesn’t impede movement. You may want to try it on to make sure it you like it.

There are two large low profile pockets for stashing gloves or a VHF. If you don’t use them they are totally flat.

Also very cool in the summer heat. Easy to take on and off, dial in adjustment on sides and front for perfect fit… nice and snug, so it feels like a part of my body in the water.

I’m also considering anther all out “guide” vest, and don’t know how it will compare to the Astral LDB. I don’t need a bulky vest that rides up in the water.

The LDB is a great PFD.


low profile please ? Also, for K or C ?

a low profile is
flat to the body causing no/little restriction in movement. Many PFDs have bulky floation that inhibits layback rolls or putting chin on front deck.

The optimal idea is a PFD that has min of 7.5 lbs of floatation or an imflatable one using a blow tube or CO2 cartridges that can be inflated using a rip-cord.

Thanks. So, from your description, I see this is about kayaks, not canoes. I know nothing about kayak needs but in canoe classes teach that a min. floatation for most adults is in the neighborhood of 15.5 especially for swift water. Is 7.5 a min. for rolling only or does that apply to wet exits as well?

I’m curious about all safety questions, canoe or kayak. There’s been some long threads in the past about inflatables and at the risk of opening a long closed can-o-worms, I think the rip-cord types presuppose that the floater is concious or otherwise not so incapacitated to handle a ripcord.

Astral Hybrid
More like wearing a thickened cumberbund than a pfd. 8lbs. floatation when you hit the water. Manual inflation up to 22lbs of floatation if you need it.

Design is going to be shelved for a bit during some cosmetic upgrades so there are some available on sale here and there, like at The River Connection.

(Yes insider knowledge on that one.)

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

the flotation for the LDB provides good flotation, but I can also go back under my submerged kayak, get in, and roll back up. I like to empty the water out while it’s capsized then get in and roll up, so not much water gets in.

This might also work well with more flotation but I haven’t done it yet. I also want to be compliant to approved regulations for certain trips in which I would be expected to provide rescue support.

In white water getting in your kayak upside down is probably not a high priority.