I’m a canoeman in the market for a new PFD. All I can find from the major brands are high-cut models designed for kayak use. I’m looking for what you might call an “old-fashioned” design, one that extends down to the waist, providing more coverage and insulation in cool weather. Does anyone still make this sort of PFD? If so, I haven’t been able to find them.
Check out the Astral Norge
In addition to what you describe, it’s also flat and clean across the front but still has a zippered pocket.
might be to your liking, no pockets though. but it’s only $50-60
Forget the Paddle Shops
Go to Sam’s Club for Body Glove brand, Walmart, West Marine, Sports Authority or any water ski shop for those more traditional type vests.
This one is called "canoe west"
Don’t have a personal experience with this one. I know what you’re looking for. My first kayak PFd was a long-cut canoe PFD by Buoy-o-boy with long cut and waist belt (and there was a waist, i.e. interruption in foam panels). I don’t see it anymore, but brand is still there. I agree that to shop locally, you should go to shops other than paddling and kayaking shops. Beware of boating PFDs with stiff single panel in front and back and foam collar - those are for power boats, inconvenient to paddle.
The most comfortable PFD will be inflatable one - because you don’t inflate it until you’re in the water, and this may never happen. If you go this route, get the one with manual inflation (i.e. you pull the lanyard to open the CO2 cartridge), rather than automatic one that inflates as soon as you hit the water. In canoe some wave may hit you (and trigger the automatic cartridge) while you’re in the boat, you don’t want this.