Newbie question re. Women's PFDs

Am new to “modern” canoeing and wanted to know: are there canoe PFD’s sized or shaped specifically for women? Are there any brands or styles designed to comfortably (and safely) fit large-chested women? Thanks!

All of the major brands feature women specific models. Best to find a few paddlesports shops and try on the various models/brands. Some will be more comfortable than others. Let’s see: Astral, Extrasport, Kokatat, Lotus, Stohlquist to name a few.


Yes, there are several…
Lotus, Kokatat, Stohlquist, and others have PFDs designed specifically for women. I have a Lotus Locean that fits me well…and floats! :slight_smile:

You can find all of them on the usual online retail sites, but if there’s an outfitter/retail shop nearby that carries a variety of brands, it’s best to try on a few to see what fits and works best for you. Though they’re all designed for women, we’re not all the same shape and size, so if you can, try before you buy. :slight_smile:


Are you bragging?
My wife recently bought a Stohlquist that she liked very much because it didn’t have a lot of padding in the places where she has built-in floatation – so to speak. I could brag for her, but I digress.

I think it was the “Motion”. She tried out the BetSea and a couple of others, but the Stohlquist really seemed to be made for her.

Just gotta go try them on and see how they feel.


but you’ll have to put them on, on-line shopping doesn’t work when it comes to seeing how something fits. What a manufacturer says and what you find what fits may be two different things.

Astral WonderPro
I have been using this for about 6 months now and really like it. There is ample room, good straping system (that thing won’t come off when I have it cinched down) and free arm movement without any chafing.

I also bought an Astral
last summer and really like it. They have several models at different prices. My old Stohlquist (Betsea, I think) served me well for many years and was very comfortable. This one is relatively inexpensive but fairly bare bones as far as features. You really need to try one on before you buy. I must have tried on ten different pfd’s at Canoecopia last year but still didn’t buy until late last summer.

Definitely not bragging…
Thanks for all the responses; I will certainly try PFD’s on before buying. And I’m definitely not bragging, since I’m pretty sure that if I lost, oh, about 30 lbs., a lot of my, ahem, “top-heaviness” would disappear (zaftig ladies will know what I’m talking about; sorry for Yiddish - no English word suffices ;-). I just know from experience that when you’re large on top, PFD’s tend to bind very tightly in those areas that could use more roominess for comfort (altho’ roominess probably compromises safety). So I’m grateful for all the suggestions - thanks!

MTI Adventure "Orleans"

This is the link to the vest I have. I also have similar measurements and the vest feels fine w/adjustable side straps which I would think they all must have???

I’m a newbie so I am not suggesting my vest is great. It is mesh up the back so it will be comfortable in the warmer weather, BUT I do wonder about the mesh up the back and then by the upper back comes the floatation material which is full in front. It makes me think if I went in the water, I’d float face down since the floatation stuff is not all the way down the back.

The store through it in for free w/my kayak purchase so I took it:) This summer, I’ll go in the water and test it out as well as my self rescue skills. I bought my yak late in August.


P.S. - Prices online on cheaper, but then there’s always that shipping and maybe handling charge so they tend to be less online. It’s always best to look in stores to try them on for fit, THEN price them online to see if you can get one for less. That’s what I do when I buy my sneakers. Got to try them on first before I do online purchases.

Astral and Extrasport
The Astral Wondervest has worked well for several well-endowed friends of mine. I personally love my Extrasport Sabre Retro-glide Rescue PFD because I have the opposite problem and it is one of the few rescue vests that comes in an extra-small size…the Extrasport Chica is also designed for women and is very reasonably-priced. Astral and Extra-sport tend to have shorter torso lengths, which seem to work better for us gals.

Yup. I paddle…
…with several busty women, and they have all

agreed that the Astral is the only one that fits.

Does your wife know about these trips?
And do you have pictures? :wink:


Kokatat Misfit
Hmmmm. The older I get, the bustier I get, and I’m certainly not bragging. At any rate, my Kokatat Misfit fits great.

The Misfit lived up to it’s name (it didn’t fit) for the wife. Who would’ve thought busts would come in so many shapes and sizes – I guess I never paid that much attention. B-)


I have the Kokatat MsFit, and it fits me so well I sometimes forget I even have it on. On the other hand, I had purchased an Extrasport Chica and found it to be uncomfortable, too long (I’m only 5’3"), and awkward, even though I had tried it on at the store.

Astral has shaped foam
I’m definitely not large-busted, yet the Astral Tempo 200 fits comfortably without riding up. It’s not that it is a “women’s” PFD–it is not. It’s that the foam panels are shaped more like a human being instead of a slab. PFDs should not be just foam versions of sandwich boards, regardless whether you are big or small. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a person who truly disappears when viewed sideways.

Try them on before buying, if possible.