Need recommendation for PFD

Carolina 14.5
The Carolina 14.5 is a good kayak. I have one. It’s roomy and comfortable. Like any kayak it has it’s pluses and minuses. I find it’s a good all around boat.

I do the opposite.
I like to do my research to see what I might be looking for and what prices are and THEN go to the stores to see what they have to offer and what they might come down to to make the sale. They are “usually” more flexible then you think.

Don’t focus on price
All type III PFD’s have a minimum of 15.5 pounds of floatation - any of them will keep you floating in the water. It’s really about comfort - having the floatation in the right place, having adjustments that keep it in place, and having the features (pockets, clips, etc.) that you need. You may be surprised to find that the perfect PFD is not the most expensive out there.

I just bought a new one last Friday
My old Lotus finally wore out and I have been trying different ones on.

On the recommendation of a recent PFD post here the majority recommended the Astral V-8.

After trying it on and liking how light weight it was, I happened to notice another Astral called the “Ronny” which seemed to be just as light and had almost no bulky material in the back along with a center webbed mesh for ventilation.

It fit well so I bought that one.

Yesterday I portaged our 17 foot canoe for over a mile with it on and a water bladder on over it, and never even noticed that it was there.

Tomorrow I’ll give it the swim test.

I am not saying to get it, since each person requires a different fit, but you might want to check it out.

I paid 89$ for it at REI and you possibly can get it cheaper at other places.

jack L

Going to check REI
It’s not too far from me. Thought I might have had some time today but it didn’t go that way. I’ll look into those recommendations. Thanks!

So I took a ride
to REI after reading up on the Astral V-Eight and the Ronny. The V-Eight has the high back to accomodate kayak seats and is what I am looking for. REI didn’t have them. The Ronny was very comfortable but had a low back. The Trekker by Stolhquist fit nice but was quite a bit more than I have been finding. Labor Day Sale coming up though!!!

High seat back?
Unless you lilly dip in a rec boat or paddle a SOT fishing kayak you’ll find that most serious paddlers set their seat backs just about as low as they can get them, or even better, use a back band.

You want support way down low in your back and a high seat back only encourages slouching and limits your ability to rotate your torso as you paddle.

So, within reason, don’t be put off by a PFD that isn’t expressly designed for a high seat back.

any L L Bean stores in your area?
L L Bean stores used to stock the V-8 but I know they are not in that many states.

So now I am confused
whether to get a high back pfd or not. I believe my Carolina14.5 doesn’t have a true touring kayack seat back. Wouldn’t you need a kayak specific pfd to have the back sit above the seat back?

doesn’t really matter
Don;t fret about style – any vest designed for kayaking will work with most boats.

I have several Astral PFD’s, including the V8 which has no flotation in the lower back and a Camino and an Abba model which have full length foam in the back. Some of my kayaks have a narrow back band and some have a regular seat back as you have in the Carolina. I can wear any of my PFD’s with any of the boats. I just adjust the backband or seat a little farther back if I have on a vest with full length foam because it adds a little cushioning between me and the seat. The V-8 is just cooler on hot days with a lot of vents and having just the upper insulation in the back.

I think some people are offering you confusing advice. Just ignore it and buy a vest that feels comfortable on you and is designed for kayaking. Don’t worry about the back style. The front is more important (with or without pockets and cut low enough that it doesn’t ride up under your chin or get in the way of arm movement.)

I’m told that the high back pfd’s

– Last Updated: Aug-23-16 6:14 AM EST –

are kayak specific. That's what I have gathered here and also what I was told at REI when I was checking out the Astral Ronny.

Just read your review in another place. Which Stohlquist did you compare the V8 to?

Not sure what you are looking for, but
the back sides on the one I just got is no more than a half inch thick and down the center there is zero padding, just a strip of ventilation.

Paddled 18 miles with it yesterday and it is so light it never even felt like I had it on.

jack L

Hi Jack
I appreciate your input. REI had the Ronny but not the V8. The kayak “pro” there told me that the high back PFD’s are kayack specific so that your back is against the seat back with the thickness resting above the seat back. He said the Ronny is more for Paddleboarding.

It seems that, from what I have read, most kayakers get a high back also.

It seems as though you are quite happy with the Ronny going down your back. I agree that the back was really thin and that it fit well but I didn’t getting the chance to sit in a kayack with it on. Just don’t want to make a purchase and then wish I had gotten something else.

Most Kayakers…
"It seems that, from what I have read, most kayakers get a high back also. "

And “most kayakers” buy SOTs, fishing boats and rec boats with high back seats, not touring kayaks.

My wife’s Astral YTV and my NRS Ninja are both just fine in our Current Designs seats with the seat backs as low as they can go…as they should be.

Measure where your seat back comes to and use that as a guide to where a PFD will reach.

I meant most kayakers
on this forum. They seem to lean more touring/sea or maybe I just haven’t been here long enough.

Anyway, since my last post I went to the Astral website and see the the Ronny IS made for high back kayak seats. I should know better NOT to listen to a salesperson!!!

I guess I was thinking that the high back pfd would make it OVER the high seat back but am now figuring it’s actually made to go ovet a low back seat. Guess if I went for the Ronny and later upgraded my kayak to something with a low back seat that there would be a chance that I would want to opt fot a different pfd maybe???

If you read the replies from the top
of this thread it will be easy to see where I got the idea that it should be a high back pfd. Those were the suggestions I was getting so now we all know why I am confused!

Another thought:
If you are not too far from NRS or any other outfitter.

Go back, put various PFDs on and sit in some of their kayaks that hopefully are on the floor.

You might luck out and find the one you want or the ones you don’t want

Jack L

Or buy
2 different styles that fit well and sit in my own and then take one back. At REI the kayaks are standing up. Guess I could get a similar one on the floor.

I think there is some confusion here about “high back” and “low back” re PFD’s and seats. I blame it on Astral by muddying the issue by touting the Ronny as “ideal for high backed seats”. It works for ALL kayak seating arrangements, not JUST high-backs. The only feature that makes it advantageous for high backs is the ventilation channel over the upper spine. Other than that it is the same functional back as the Camino and Norge. Besides the V8, I have a Camino and the women’s version of the Norge, the Abba. The Abba/Norge have partial kapok fill which makes them slightly softer and more flexible than the 100% foam Camino.

When Celia was explaining shorter backs she meant a normal full foam back like the Ronny, which is what MOST kayaking PFD’s are made like. Only a few models have the half foam backs like the V8 (maybe what you are calling “low back”?) where the flotation is only in the upper part of the back and the lumbar area is unpadded mesh or nylon. These half-backs would probably be a problem with the super high seat backs put in some rec boats and fishing kayaks (these are for lounging, not for active paddling – high backs inhibit effective paddle strokes).

Since you are going to be in a standard sit inside touring boat you would not have a seat like that anyway. Either a half-back or a full-back flotation vest will work with your Carolina. If you are concerned about future changes, just go with the Ronny or a similar style. It will work for any kayak.

There are longer bodied PFD’s that many canoeists favor since they don’t usually have seat backs at all. But most of the Astrals are short enough for kayaking. I’m very short-waisted and all three models that I have are fine for me and don’t interfere with the seat backs or spray skirts.

My Opinion

Just wanted to toss in that I personally just bought the Ninja this weekend and I LOVE it. I couldnt be happier. I purchased the Astral V-8 because of the mesh back and its openness, however after paddling for a period of time the bulkiness of it just is too much. My friend is also swapping her v-8 for a ninja (gotta love REI)