Old-style PFDs

Is there a manufacturer that still makes the old-style, longer, segmented canoeing PFDs?

I googled around and didn’t see any.
I’ve owned and used segmented pfds since the early 70s, and even made a 30# Hifloat from a kit. But I haven’t been using them lately because modern designs are working better for me.

Maybe if you describe how segmented pfds have worked well for you in Texas, we can help you find some modern designs that would do as well.

I’m mainly an open canoeist now, but when I was paddling c-1 and k-1, I found that segmented pfds tended to bunch in front of my collarbone in c-1, and the water picked up by a segmented pfd made it harder to roll.

For open canoeing and occasional returns to my decked boats, I’m relying on a Lotus Sherman that is still entirely sound after over a dozen years of use. It can be adjusted so it is cool but doesn’t ride up, it doesn’t interfere with cross strokes, and its reasonably light. My “kit” HiFloat simply is not as cool and interferes more with movement.

We started out with segmented Flotherchocs in the 70s, but the USCG withdrew approval because Flotherchoc flotation consisted of chains of PVC bubbles. The USCG reasoned that swimming into cactus, barbed wire, or porcupine fish might collapse some bubbles. They’re so smart. Flotherchocs were the most flexible and comfortable pfds ever made.

I’ve never worn one
…but I keep reading comments about how comfortable some people feel wearing them because of the way they wrap around the torso, so I want to try one out.

Of course, Texas is too hot to even consider wearing something like a complete foam wraparound outside of January or February! But if I liked it, I would wear it for the “cold” months and wear a modern “meshy” hi-back in warmer weather.

The only one I’ve seen that’s close is the Swiftwater Ranger:


Piragis had a segmented PFD in their catalog until recently – might be worth giving them a call.


I’ve been looking for one for years.
An NPS Ranger had one but he’s retired now. Weber was his name, they called him “Wild Bill”. It was long with thin ribs that went all the way around.

DownRiver Equipment carries the
Extrasport B27 which seems to be essentially the same as Extrasport’s old Hi Float segmented model. It looks like the same basic PFD as the Swiftwater Ranger but without the rescue features of the Ranger. The B27 can be purchased without having swift water rescue training. It is also cheaper than the Ranger.

The Ranger

– Last Updated: Sep-17-12 9:52 PM EST –

Looks like the genuine item (minus the rescue belt/ring). But they want big bucks for it. I saw the MTI in the Piragis catalog too. It's discontinued and they only have the small size left (I'm L/XL). The B27seems to have been discontinued as well. It's not listed in the Extrasport website.


MTI Cruiser
shop around you can still find 'em on Amazon, EBay, Campmor, etc. the “SE” edition added a pocket.

I Bought a Stearns…
…just last year and it looks like it’s no longer made. Thought I could recommend it, but can’t find it online anymore. Since I paddle a canoe and have a long torso and like to kneel, I like those kind. Getting scarce as hen’s teeth!

Thing about multi-tube jackets was
they were likely to fit anyone who came in the store.

With the new styles, most of the ones you try in a store will not fit very well. But keep trying. You’ll find one like my Lotus Sherman that fits great, and both fits better and works better than any old multi-tube job.

Honestly, the multi-tube style doesn’t even fit canoeists (of which I am an example) as well as a properly chosen modern jacket. One Style Fits All is not the solution.

And especially if you are a decked boater and plan to roll, don’t handicap yourself with any jacket that picks up a bunch of water weight as soon as you go upside down. Multi-tube jackets also cause more drag as you snap your hips and your body moves through the water. Sure, if your roll technique is “perfect,” you can roll with a large monkey on your back. But what good is a large monkey?

Extrasport B27

I checked DownRiver Equipment’s website and they are showing that the B27 is available in three sizes (S, M, XL–no L) for $159.95. www.downriverequip.com

Good luck finding one. I have a couple of the old Extrasport Hi Floats which seem to be about the same design as the B27. They are great for canoes, small inflatables, and rafts but not suitable for kayaks. Lots of flotation: 26-27 pounds. George