Need a pfd suggestion

When I took classes at a kayak symposium, I was told that my pfd should not ride up when someone pulled up on the shoulder straps. If I tighten the straps tight enough so that the pfd stays in place, I can’t breathe. I have three different pfds and I can’t seem to get any of them to not ride up. It doesn’t help that my belly is bigger around than the rest of me and I’m working on that, but in the meantime, should I get a bigger pfd? Or a longer-waisted one?

get one
you can retrofit with a crotch strap-or one that already has that feature.

Check out Astral PFDs
They don’t ride up due to well designed strap system.

NRS online sells them at a reasonable price.

makes PFDs with a diagonal strap that greatly reduces the tendancy to ride up. They make female-specific ones too.


If possible; try on a Lotus Lola, which was specifically designed for females.


ms fit
You could also check out the Kotatat Ms Fit. I know many paddlers of both sexes that swear by them. the foam is contoured for better fit. And they have nice pockets

Lots of good suggestions. Not sure about the comfort of crotch straps, tho - anyone use those?

Ditto Astral.

I do…
I use a Kokatat MS pro-fit with retrofitted crotch straps. You don’t have to pull them that thight so they are uncomfy. I pull them somewhat tight while I stand-that leaves them a bit loose while I kneel/sit. Even if your PFD rides up a little bit with that setup-better than riding up all the way as without crotch straps. I find that more comfortable than using my rip cage to prevent the PFD from going towards my nose.


– Last Updated: Nov-26-06 11:12 PM EST –

My friend found the Kokatat SeaO2 hybrid inflatable to the answer to her fit/comfort needs. She had been using a MsFIT, but couldn't quite get comfortable in it. The first time she tried on the SeaO2 she was sold, and has been a happy paddler ever since. At $170 a little spendy, but if the PFD fits...

One little caveat on the SeaO2. The CO2 cartridges may not get past the TSA if you plan to pack it on a commercial flight. My friend had to toss the them on a recent trip.

Agree, Stohlquist and diagonal straps
There was a thread a while back on this subject. Stohlquist was recommended especially for those with some girth. That would be me, too.

Between the lower strap and the diagonal stap it doesn’t ride up much. Very comfortable. I losten slightly if wet suit, dry top, and layers; then tighten slightly if bare skin, pool session.

For me the Stohlquist felt better than the Astra. Try them at the store if you can.

Paul S.

Astral again
The function is great and the fit range is quite broad for the two sizes the Wonderjackets & Tempo 200s go. They keep the floatation low on your torso and not up around your collar bones. Zip front is optional as the pfd holds it’s tension by a pair of fastex buckles which allows you to open the pfd in the hotter weather and not worry about unzipping your pfd if you are scrambling back into your kayak.

There are some on eBay! I think.

See you on the water,


Astral Wondervest
Astral is my favorite, but I don’t know about the waist to chest ratio. I try to pull the straps tight so I can’t breathe - they loosen when wet. When you’re floating in the water, does the vest lift away from your shoulders? If not, it should be ok.

Astral Wonderjacket is great!
I have a big belly and the PFD fits snug without crushing the ladies or restricting breathing. Breathing is good. :slight_smile:

Another plus is that it is very adjustable to fit over whatever you’re wearing.

NRS Groove PFD
I have tried all of the others that the gang has suggested. THIS is the one I choose. After I cinched up all of the others I couldn’t breathe, and was very squished. (can you say uncomfortable?) I tried on the NRS Pfd made out of Mystery material and neoprene and cinched it up. WOW, I could breathe AND it was the most comfortable PFD I had tried so far. I have used this for 2 years now, and still love it. I see that some of the other manufacturers have incorporated fit for the female figure now, so they may not be as restrictive as they once were. Good luck.

Try discount store for a front zip that I leave unzipped with strap on bottom that you leave buckled for air to hit your chest in hot weather. Pockets are wonderful. Pay $20 instead of $100. This I what I wear for ocean races such as blackburn and it works great. And I buy paddling clothes at garage sales but have high priced turbo wing paddle and kevlar or graphite boats that weigh #26 and weigh #33. Save your bucks and enjoy big pockets form discount store pfd.

Not realistic to expect any PFD to be
free of ride-up, given the physics of the situation. Some are better than others, but once you are in the water, the PFD has to be on tight to minimize ride-up, and that means you were uncomfortable to some degree before taking your swim.

I have used crotch straps with success in canoes, but they do not combine easily with the wearing of spray skirts in decked boats.

One obvious solution would be to clip the bottom edge of the PFD to the sprayskirt, and then to have crotch straps or a security panty (ha ha) on the sprayskirt. Anyone could do this, once they have selected exactly the PFD and sprayskirt they want to use. Fast-tek clips and various other hardware could be combined with neoprene stress patches, put on with neoprene cement and Nylon stitching done by hand. (Have done such patching for other purposes.)

So, you pull on your sprayskirt into its proper position, attach the (hopefully unobstrusive) crotch straps underneath, put on your PFD, and attach the bottom edge of the PFD to the base of the sprayskirt tunnel. Now you do not have to super-tighten your PFD, because if you swim, the sprayskirt and crotch straps keep it from riding up.

If you typically wear relatively substantial water shorts, aqua-pants, or neoprene bottoms, you might be able to skip full crotch straps by just having clips under the sprayskirt to attach the sprayskirt to your pants-or-whatever with some clip system.

that is one
great idea! I’ll make that a Winter project and fit my kid’s PFDs and wetsuits with fastex buckles…

Astral Norge
One more vote for Astral. The Norge is using kapok in the front panels so it molds to your shape better. Great PFD.