Low Volume PFD Option

I’ve had a number of GP-ers and petite women ask me if a PFD exists that is either super low volume but still counts as a PFD or something that doesn’t make a tiny torso’d person feel like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man.

After grinding through a couple of years of approvals Astral Buoyancy finally has out the Hybrid PFD.

As it is worn in it’s compact non-deployed form(wait, I’ll explain) it provides 8.1lb. of floatation. If you are having an extended out of boat experience you have a manual inflation tube at the top of the front panel that will inflate two air bladders that will rise up along the long shoulder straps providing 22.7lbs. of buoyancy when inflated. Now that being said, I still intend on wearing my Tempo 200 as it has 17lbs. of floatation without my blowing it up.

Here’s the major plus: comfort & freedom of movement!

Xsmall/Medium Size

Front Panel : 7.5"x17"x3.5"

Back Panel : 15"x12"x1"

Large/XLarge Size

Front Panel : 9"x18"x3.5"

Back Panel : 15"x12"x1"

Being that this sits as a cumberbund on the front of the torso there are only long straps that run up to the wider shoulder padded straps connected to the top of the back panel. This provides a HUGE range of motion for the shoulders and no bulk at the sides of the torso.

Upshot is this is not the pfd, IMHO, for someone starting off paddling that will be spending lots of time in the water, especially if they are doing whitewater (although I’m sure this’ll draw the interest of some Squirt Boaters), but it provides an extremely low volume, flexible freedom of movement pfd for the racers, GP-ers and some tough to fit small torsos.

See you on the water,



Hyde Park, NY

Does it ride
on your hips or on your waist? My problem with the inflatables is that the ones I’ve tried go around your waist and it seems to interfere with my torso rotation. As I twist my torso, it binds anything around my waist. Maybe if my waist was a little bit smaller?!?!?

I’m guessing like this

– Last Updated: Jul-18-07 2:12 PM EST –


Been around the larger boat market a few years now.
Looks like you'll have to copy/paste the whole shebang into your browser.

On the torso…

– Last Updated: Jul-18-07 2:45 PM EST –

The bottom of the pfd sits at the shortribs so it shouldn't interfere with torso rotation at all. Huge amount of adjustability to it with the additional strapage so you can trim out where it sits on your toso quite easilly.

Picture and mfg. description of it at:

See you on the water,
Hyde Park, NY

Stohlquist Motion PFD (comes in a regular and women’s specific verisions) is also an excellent lower profile vest, and is not bulky. I really enjoy mine, and it has a high cut low profile back that doesn’t interfere with the high seat back on my Tsunami or on my friend’s Dirigo.

I bought a Sospenders with 35lbs of float but until it is inflated (manual blow tube or CO2 release) it provides no float at all. This worries me a little so I’m considering adding a ski belt. Mostly I wanted it for this hot Summer weather.

Other low profile options
from Kokatat is their new vest for 2007 the Ronin and a minimal vest the Astral here is the web address http://www.kokatat.com/product_lifevests.asp

Thanks for posting about this
I’ve yet to find a satisfactory PFD.

Closest so far is the Astral PFD I bought last year. Thanks to its contoured foam pieces, it leaves plenty of breathing expansion room even when snugged on well enough to prevent riding up in the water. So it is the most comfortable so far. No more sandwich-board effect.

BUT it’s still thick enough on the backside to prevent me from doing static braces. I can do them only when I remove the PFD. And the Astral’s back foam is not thick compared with some other brands and models.

It’s also thick enough in front that I feel like Santa Claus. This has been the case with any PFD I’ve worn that isn’t too long. I guess they have to put the foam somewhere to get buoyancy ratings over 16 lbs.

I thought about using a kid’s PFD but those are supposedly only good for people under 90 lbs. There is no PFD rated for people between 90 lbs and “average US adult”.

Might work…
for the static braces and other GP gymnastics. The Hybrid is only 1" thick on the back and definitely no paunch added to the front. More like a large fanny sack worn mid front of torso.

See you on the water,



Hyde Park, NY

Hybrid inflatable
Kotokat makes one, provides 7.5 lbs positive buoyancy deflated, 22.5 lbs inflated. A little pricey, though.



I own a Kokatat SeaO2 hybrid inflatable vest. Very nice, doesn’t ride up and not bulky either. However, one word of caution that I was made privvy to on this board:

If you wear a tuilik and put this vest under it - you MUST remove the gas cartridge or risk pain, injury, or worse if that thing kicks off with your tuilik on as the tuilik could keep it from expanding out like its supposed to - which means it would expand IN…crack goes the ribs!

Just a note of precaution.


Daggermat’s link

Donning a garment over the Hybrid wouldn’t be great either, except that you don’t have to disarm it before paddling. Just inflating with the manual inflation tube would mean chewing through your tuilliq (sp?) though.

See you on the water,



Hyde Park, NY