expedition vs rec pfd

It can be

– Last Updated: Sep-25-15 8:51 PM EST –

On PFDs with the back side designed to clear a backrest, sometimes the floatation panels elsewhere are thicker. Bulky chest panels can interfere with cross strokes. Maybe extra bulk up high in the front won't matter, and maybe it will, and one model PFD will not be the same as another. It's just another reason that it is a good idea to try it for fit before buying.

Edit: It's probably not just cross strokes that can be a problem. With any good forward stroke you "stack your hands" for proper blade placement, and I think that would be difficult with a PFD that's overly big in the chest.

New 2015 V8s.
Astral redesigned the V8 for 2015. To me, the 2014s and earlier v8s are more comfortable. For 2015, Astral added more mesh to the back, and put a huge foam block. across the shoulders. The 2015 V8, just feels awkward now. New is not always improved.

pre 2015 V8


2015 V8


Oh yes.

– Last Updated: Sep-25-15 7:30 PM EST –

That Astral which is comfortable is all mesh in back and all that vented flotations puts a lot of bulk in the chest which is absolutely no problem kayaking put becomes problematic in a canoe.

When I canoe I most often wear a Fishing type PFD. More padding in back which doesn't matter. Still has wide open arm openings and more pockets than a regular PFD.

I do not white water at all and I have no illusions of attempting an on water recovery in a canoe. I kayak offshore and in large waters. Where I canoe I can most likely wade to shore. I find the Fishing style PFD is every bit as comfortable as an inflatable and far more convenient.

Edit - I meant to post under Guideboat guys comments below


– Last Updated: Sep-26-15 8:19 AM EST –

Obviously, I have to try a jacket before committing. What are your thoughts on the Norge? The back is a solid piece, without a big lump of flotation at the top. Also, I've seen some jackets with a strap that goes between the legs to prevent the jacket from coming off over the head. How useful is this? Can this be jerry-rigged with a piece of rope? What are the chances of such a strap working as intended without snagging the wearer in the groin?

Size looks good
and it doesn’t look bulky. It’s a little light on pockets for me. Not sure about the handwarmers. I wear gloves.


– Last Updated: Sep-29-15 10:14 AM EST –

I have a Norge - it is more uniform in size from top to bottom. I think it would be better than most vests for canoeing. It could use more pockets, but it's not a deal breaker.

I used it until I tried a Kokatat MsFit, which is better for kayaking. It has the flotation up high, with nice open arm holes and more useful pockets, it's what I normally use. I keep the Norge for a loaner and it works fine.

more offerings from astral
Earlier someone commented that rec pfds tend not to have arm holes that are as conducive to paddling as those found in paddling pfds. I notice that astral lists some of their pfds as suited for some activities, and not for others. The Norge is listed as being appropriate for the sea, whereas the Ronny is not. Is the ronny less suited for paddling, by the looks of it? Also, I have an old fishing vest. Is there a reason I shouldn’t wear it over a pfd to hold items?

Ronny looks fine
It’s sold at NRS as a touring life jacket, and it looks like it has huge arm openings. It’s always better to try on a PFD before you buy if you can. If not, don’t be afraid to send it back if it doesn’t fee comfortable.

I’ve worn an orange hunting vest over my PFD. Like many things, it’s fine in easy water, but you wouldn’t want it riding up and restricting your movement in case of a swim. Most things should go in your dry bag. If I could get away with no pockets I would, but I have to have my camera and sunglasses within easy reach.

By the way - the strap
between the legs was usually added by whitewater paddlers to keep the old style PFD’s from riding up. Old style PFD’s like this had limited adjustment points:


Today PFD’s have lots of adjustment points so a properly sized pfd can be adjusted snug so that it doesn’t ride up in difficult water. You rarely see that strap between the legs anymore.

Same here
I’ve worn an orange hunting vest over my PFD during deer season, and I’ve worn a high-visibility workers’ vest when crossing the navigation channel of the Mississippi (which at times is almost like trying to walk across a busy interstate highway). If you want a vest for fishing, I’d think that would be fine. I myself just keep a small tackle box on the floor in front of me, since I won’t be accidentally walking away from it or anything :slight_smile:

bang for the buck
The Ronny is certainly a great PFD in the “bang for the buck” sense. I see it’s on sale at Backcountry for $70 (probably last year’s version). Thinner and ventilated foam back (good for higher rise canoe seats), tons of pockets, basically cut like the V-8. What’s not to like?

Holy crap - you’re right…
I just took delivery of a new 2015 V-Eight and they really “fixed” something that wasn’t broken. The new re-designed back is certainly not as nice as the previous design. I packed it up and sent it right back for an exchange with a Ronny.

Glad I have an earlier V-Eight for the summer heat.

tried the ronny today

– Last Updated: Sep-29-15 1:48 AM EST –

Well, I tried the Ronny and have mixed feelings. On the plus side, it fit well, is well constructed, etc. On the negative side, there was some bulk to the front that seemed like it might get in the way of paddling. I guess what I have to ask myself is if I'm paddling my canoe through a mile of open water, whether I want the comfort of my inflatable, or the piece of mind of something like the ronny.

Edit: Also, I came across this PFD when searching the web. Interesting, but probably not for me:

Go for the peace of mind
of a traditional PFD. You will find one that feels comfortable - everyone does.

Sea Wolf
I have had a Astral Sea Wolf (based on the Green Jacket) for a few year and it is amazingly comfortable. I would deffinately try one on before you buy. The Sea Wolf design makes it easy to scamble over the back deck and is one of the few jackets you can put a hydration system in, which was a must for me.

When I conduct water related trainings for my fire department we have to wear a pfd when we are with in 50 ft of any water. I could wear an inflatable but choose to wear my Sea Wolf because it is so comfortable.

Most jackets are going to be 16lbs of bouyancy then it goes up to around 23 lbs (if I remember right) 23 lbs is generally a rescue vest made to support two people.

Alternative to fishing vest

– Last Updated: Oct-01-15 4:16 PM EST –

I don't use a vest for fishing even when out of the boat anymore. Several makers now have really nice chest packs with QR buckle straps, and I have switched to that. Doesn't add to the heat and doesn't ride up as much in a swim. The ones I've seen and use are geared towards fly fishing, but I'm sure can be adapted to other styles if necessary.

Also, take a look at Stohlquist PFDs if you can. I find their Brik model to be very comfortable for me, even in the heat - though lacking in pockets.

Oh - Stohlquist also makes a couple of PFDs geared toward fishing...Piseas and Fisherman. Those eliminate the need for a separate piece of gear to carry fishing needs. I have the Piseas, which is comfortable for me, but the front pockets do sometimes get in the way a little (mostly when I'm poling). Might work fine for others, but I don't use it for long trips.

this is what I wear 90%
of the time.


very comfortable, I usually forget I have it on.

Floats me better than I would have expected. It’s kind of a puzzle the first time you put it on- over your head and it zips. Good not just for ww but general rec boating as well.

Just like I have a winter coat I also have a winter pfd. More flotation, more bulk but less range of movement, more heat and it floats me higher so if I take a swim I may not be as cold. I use an nrs bigwater guide jacket then. Everything is a trade off.

I always wear my pfd unless I’m on a cruise ship.

Like the idea of a rescue vest because they have towing capability but don’t feel I’ve had sufficient training to use one safely. I’ll leave the “live bait” to others who know and have practiced it.

My Ronny arrived this…
morning and I took it out for a quick canoe paddle around the pond. Very nice vest for my structure and use. Very comfortable right out of the box and lightweight. I can adjust it to ride lower on my torso and it stays in place quite nicely. I like the saffron yellow colour, too.

Happy with it and glad to add it to the kit. I’m becoming quite fond of Astral gear.

I’m coming late to this thread, but the importance of wearing PFDs (I prefer life jacket or life vest, because they reference “life”, which these items protect) is very dear to my heart.

There’s been reference to “recreational” and “expedition” models. Those are not really helpful terms in the discussion, because they mean different things to different people. If you choose a US Coast Guard Approved model, it’ll probably fall into one of two categories: Type III (the most common choice) or Type V (special use models, rescue, commercial use, etc. The inflatables fall in here).

Those of us who spend time on the water do many things and any one life jacket won’t meet everyone’s needs. There are literally dozens of models on the market, with different fit profiles, features and benefits. It may take a boater some considerable looking to find their perfect model, but it’s out there. And, forums like this are great for spreading the news about models that work for different sports and uses.

The Coast Guard is fond of answering the question, “What’s the best life jacket,” with “The one you have on when you need it.” That’s why it’s so important to find one that meets your needs for features and performance and is comfortable for all-day wear.

As to inflatable models, they have their place but also have limitations. Before choosing that as your form of life protection, visualize the worst scenarios that you would need it in and decide whether you’d be able to activate and don it when things go seriously south. This is one of those “you bet your life” sorts of questions.

By all means, I urge everyone who ventures out into the water world to always wear their personal flotation device. I hate reading those death notices.

Boat Often, Boat Safe,