current pfd favorites for women

Looking for suggestions for a PFD for a slim, adult female. Will be used for canoeing.

Do the female designed vests have a real advantage over a non female specific vest?



– Last Updated: Dec-31-08 7:27 PM EST –

Female-specific designs tend to have a shorter torso length and are shaped to better fit the female shape. For some folks it makes a big difference, for others it's no big deal.

Astral seems popular.

It depends on where it is that
you are slim. The obvious difference in the women’s PFDs is in the chest area. If you are relatively “slim” there, then it won’t make a lot of difference. If you are slim waisted and less slim up top, then the standard PFDs may be more restrictive and less comfortable.

My wife is more like the latter and she really likes the Stohlquist Motion for Women. The only downside is that they have to shift the floatation lower on the vest and it tends to make them a little more bulky around your stomach area.

Best thing is to try them on and see what you like though. To me it’s like trying to pick out shoes without trying them on first…


I have tried on countless pfds and dont like most of them for one reason or another.

You can take our choices as mere suggestions, but she really must try them on as it really is like trying shoes on and a very personal choice.

The only one I like so far (although there are still so many i haven’t tried due to availability) is the Kokatat Orbit Tour. It is very open cut and I forget i have it on once in my kayak. Its downfall is it is over the head style and bulky for wet exits as there is less jacket overall and needs the flotation but it is still my favourite one. (still looking for the perfect one for me!) Another choice that many many people including men like is the Kokatat MS fit (tour with pockets). I have one but still feel it gets in the way of my arms a bit so I haven’t used it.

My wife tried a Stohlquist Betsea, but
the foam was quite stiff and it wasn’t comfortable. I then got her an Astral Abba with the kapok foam in the front, and it has been OK, but not any better than when she wears my Lotus Sherman.

If you’re ordering it as a gift, make sure exchange will be convenient. Otherwise, going to a store with a really good selection and trying on a bunch is important.

Body Types
I’m not female but I’m short in the torso and long legged. Yes, different pfds fit very differently. Lots of us short-torsoed men use and appreciate the Kokatat Msfit. I also found an Extrasport model that fits great. I think the model is called the Eagle.

Short pfd good.

Long pfd that runs way down the back… bad.

Cut for shorter torso
Women’s vests are cut for a shorter torso. For a woman who is not way endowed, something like the MSFit and some others manage that with comfort. Some women with more significant chests have to work a little harder for a short torso and an otherwise comfy fit.

Kokatat’s pass the Coast Guard cert with only the internal buckles clipped and the zipper undone. Some like this feature for hotter weather or the ability to have a slightly less bulky feeling.

Female, short waisted, big, uh,… upper
I like the Kokatat MsFit Tour.

Kokatat MsFit
Fits well, not too long, and I like the fact that the zipper can be open for ventilation while the vest is still buckled for security, as Celia mentioned.


I also wear the Kokatat Ms.Fit Tour.
For me it is the most comfortable PFD I’ve tried. Most of my female paddling pals wear the same one.