Fit of Ronin PFD

-- Last Updated: Aug-21-10 12:59 PM EST --

My ancient Stohlquist PFD (can't remember the model name) is on its last legs. It's completely faded, and if I drag it through the water, the nylon cover leaks. It still floats me, but it's time to replace the thing.

I already bought a youth PFD, meanwhile, which despite its weight rating does float me. I bought it because it's not too long or too thick, and anyway I don't wear a PFD in flat, well-known waters.

However, I always wear a PFD in moving water. And in those conditions I do want the higher flotation of an adult PFD. So I'm still looking for a good PFD that fits and allows full mobility AND has protection for my ribs and spine. I've owned and sold two short PFDs that were otherwise good but had such thick front panels that they got in the way for some things.

I've borrowed/rented the MsFit at least three different times (5 to 14 days each time), and while it fits OK, it feels like I'm overly confined (straightjacket effect). Especially while wearing a towbelt.

The Kokatat Ronin has huge armholes and a low profile front cut, which would appear to boost mobility and comfort. It also specifically mentions full spinal protection. I'm wondering how small people find its fit. How thick is the foam? I have not found one to try on, yet. The Ronin I'm interested in is the non-rescue version.

Most likely too big for you

I think that you will find it to be too big on you. Small framed women find it is just too much on them.


How’s the Orbit?
I’m thinking the foam might be too thick for my taste, but it looks like it’s designed for freedom of movement.

Orbit will work
The Orbit or Orbit Tour (pocket/reflective tape) would work for someone your size. I wear one while canoeing and surf - any time I don’t need what I normally keep in/on my MsFit Tour. It is very much a minimalist style. Some people don’t like the over the head style.

PFD wit body armor…
High flotation… plastic body armor panels… eenfinite adjoostments… Big $$$…


Way overkill for me, and I don’t like lots of straps and pockets and things hanging out. But thanks for the link; I didn’t know that Level 6 made PFDs.

I use a Kokatat Orbit Tour
and love it - downsides pull over style and the front is thick to compensate for the lovely ease of fit for paddling. I own a MS fit and i feel it is nice in some ways but still too confining around the arms/chest so it sits and is a loaner.

I bought a Ronin when they first came out about 2 years ago, hoping it would be the answer…put it on - took it off immediately and returned. Big/bulky - I was very disappointed. so for now the Orbit tour (pockets) is still the best fit for me. I am small to medium build.

For What it’s Worth
I’m short torsoed and use the MS Fit (does that make me a cross dresser?) so I keep an eye out for PFDs that fit. I was in a shop a week or so back and tried on one of these:

Very comfortable but I didn’t like the pocket configuration. Something to look into anyway.

Good info
I need to try on the Orbit, because it sounds like the front pad will be thicker than I like. Not fond of over-the-head PFD style but I could live with that if everything else was good.

Your comment about MSFit’s fit around arms and chest was spot-on–and I’m at the bottom of its size range. It’s possible that if the foam was thinner it’d feel less confining.

I tried on an Astral Willis. Sizing was OK, and there’s protection for my back. It has an interesting configuration for the front: two panels of foam that overlap. Maybe for better mobility? Still pretty thick, though, and I don’t know if things could get caught in between the two overlapping pieces.

Astral Bella
If you can, try the Astral Bella which, I think, is the woman’s version of the Willis.

I use the Bella for WW and surf, and it doesn’t feel too bulky although I hate the way the side straps are configured. I always seem to end up putting the wrong buckle in the wrong strap and end up looking (and feeling) lopsided.

While Astral makes excellent products, I’ve found their woman’s PFDs to be consistently too bulky for my build. My all-time fave is my old, now-deteriorating PEAKUK, which I no longer feel I can safely use but still have. I have the newer model, which has a built-in water bladder (as did my previous PEAKUK), but it feels bulkier than my old one. Most of the time, though, I use it or the Kokatat MSFit, mainly for the pockets.

I did the same thing
When I tried on the Willis, I put the wrong buckle on the wrong strap. It’s hard to get it right on the first try, for some reason. Maybe they’re too close together, or maybe it’s because of the two-part front panel making things askew. I never had that problem on any other PFD.