big guy pfd's

What brand and model are you plus 250 lb paddlers wearing for pfds. Am in the market and looking for some feedback. I’m 6’1 and 280 myself

Finally, something I can help with
Dear jeepfan,

Since my boating consists of canoeing and fishing in colder weather I will wear a PFD I picked up from Bass Pro Shop.

Today I was in a Dick’s Sporting Goods store and decided to try on a couple of PFD’s. Long story short the only brand that fit me at 6’ 5" and 330 pounds was made by MTI. The model I tried on was a Solaris and it’s made for SOT kayaking and fishing.

I tried on some Extrasport PFD’s as well with no luck. I’m convinced they run a full size smaller than their published specs. In no way are their 2XL-3XL Universal fit sized models even close to the size of the MTI.

I suspect you’ll be looking around and trying on a number of PFD’s until you find one that fits properly. All I can tell you is that if I can find something you can too.


Goobs AKA Tim Murphy

The skinny of PFD modifications

– Last Updated: May-24-12 10:33 PM EST –

Modifying a PFD, such as (permanently) adding
additional body strap webbing,
voids the device's approval, no matter
who does the modification.

The KEY word there is PERMANENTLY !

However, for a person with a chest size over 52"
, using an adult universal PFD with a
clip-on body strap extension does not void the approval.

The people hardest to float are those with
compact, dense bodies. These tend to be people
with athletic body builds, with a lot of bone
and muscle mass, and not much fat.
-Fat is not as dense as muscle and bone,
so people who are overweight can actually be
easier to float than someone who is much
smaller and leaner.
-Heavy people do not need a higher buoyancy
PFD because of their weight.

Stearns fishing vests
If your flatwater paddling they should satisfy your needs. They are CG approved life vests but have extra large arm holes and lots of mesh to stay cool. Wally World near the fishing stuff.

second the MTI suggestion
I have several PFD’s I keep for loaners to family and friends with whom I share my “extra” kayaks. Among them is an XL sized MTI model which has fit several linebacker sized paddlers. I think I picked it up on sale at Dick’s for around $40.

soloquist (sp?) Drifter
I need a XXL even though Im 225 lb. For kayaking it fits the bill. I still havent found a PFD that I could wear rowing and solo canoing. Ive started wearing an inflatable chest worn PFD in my open boats with the conventional pfd near at hand. this west marinne model has a zip pocket that is great for the ipod, whistle, knife etc. the cell phone alos, sealed in a ziplock bag. If im in the water with the vest inflated or uniflated, I can pull the conventional vest on from behind.

I am 6 feet 250 just picked up a 2xl nrs c vest. Fits very well and has many pockets.

big guy here too
I lucked out and got one on ebay. Im pretty sure it is a 3xl. I found the ones made for fishing (look like a fishing vest) seem to fit bigger and more comfortable.

It is “Winning Edge” brand and has a size chart that is accurate. There is one listed on ebay for 57.00 now.

Try Salus
6’2, 295 here. Just bought a Salus Kiwi in XXL. Tried swimming in it in 6 degree C water and it floated me just fine. Very comfortable to paddle in and they are made in Canada. Also the Peak UK long john in XXL fit well too if you are wetsuit shopping.

Consider a manual inflatable
pfd. Not for white water. Require manual pull to inflate with co2 cartridge. Or, manual fill by blowing up with breath. VERY comfortable to wear. Not hot. No restriction on freedom of movement. Maybe some risk given that they do require conscious action to inflate.

Because in most circumstances,
one is only required to have an approved PFD at hand, one can wear a modified PFD while keeping the approved article at hand for inspection.

Inspection is rarely an issue. In 50 years on US rivers from coast to coast, I have yet to be approached for PFD inspection, and I know what sort of locations are likely to be populated by OCD inspectors.

Regarding whitewater PFDs, progress over the decades has been made in spite of USCG interference, not because of it. PFDs have improved because serious paddlers have sought them on the market, not because someone in the Coast Guard wrote regulations.

Mustang Inflatable
I have a 54" chest and have a hard time finding any PFD that doesn’t ride up high on me – I feel like the fit is so off on most of them I doubt that they would help me that much in the case of an emergency.

I went with a Mustang Inflatable Deluxe (Manual inflate). You barely know you are wearing it and if needed they sell an extra waist strap. I am pretty large and it fits me fine without it.

I view the typical kayak PFD as little more than a swim aid, since if I am knocked out it is going to float me face down in the water. I view the Mustang as giving me a better chance in a bad situation as long as I or someone else can pull the rip cord at least I will be floated with my face out of the water.

I have the same model -
I like it a lot and I agree with your analysis. I would not use it in white water where the danger of being unable to pull the inflate cord is too high for my taste. But in flat water I think this is the way to go.

thanks for all the replies
Wow a lot of information here. I appreciate it all. After doing some more research due to what you all have posted. I am either considering the mti solaris. Which I have found available locally. Or the idea of the mustang inflatable pfds. The idea of a very nonrestrictive setup seems like would be ideal. I plan to do mostly fishing on flatwater and maybe a few slow rivers around Ohio.

Be sure to practice getting back in the
boat, too. I remember the first time I capsized–darn near ended my life (I’m fat too, was out of shape, and didn’t know what I was doing at the time). There was a DVD out a few years ago … they interviewed people and asked them how long they thought it would take them to get back into their boat. Estimates ranged from 1-5 minutes. Then they asked 2 intrepid padders in closed-deck boats to volunteer. 30 minutes later they were still in the water, about ready to give up. They point is, depending on your boat, it may be trickier than it looks. A closed-deck boat is a piece of cake if you know the techniques; a death trap if you do not. It’s worth getting some instruction on rescues. FWIW.

Life jackets for larger folks
The NRS Big Water Guide -, fits chests up to 58 inches. With adjustable shoulders and six side adjustment points it can usually give a good fit to most body types. Our Big Water V -, also fits up to a 58 inch chest, however it’s designed as a commercial Type V jacket and while it can work for a recreational paddler, the BW Guide is a better choice for most folks.

As stated earlier, extra flotation is not really needed for most larger boaters but their larger frames can also more readily accommodate the extra bulk of the foam in those jackets.

As is often the case, people outside the “bell-shaped curve” have more difficulty finding items that fit. But as has been pointed out, there are choices out there. Find one that’s comfortable and always wear it. Boat Safe!