paddle and PFD

in the spring i’ll be buying a kayak. while i have a pretty good idea of the kayak i’d like to get, i’m clueless in regards to PFDs and paddles. i dont want to waste my money on crappy equipment, but at the same time i dont want to break tha bank on them.

i’m 6’0, 180 evenly distributed pounds. i dont have abnormally long or short arms.

i wont be doing any long distance touring, or white water river stuff.


Differences …
You are 4 inches shorter & approximately 20 pounds lighter than me. I paddle canoes; you are interested in kayaking. I don’t know enough about kayak paddles to make quality suggestions.

On the other hand; we would probably wear the same size pfd(L/XL), and the ones that I suggest would probably serve you well.

I own, and use Lotus Design pfds. I have the Rio Grande(18 lb 6 oz), Rio Bravo( l7 lb 4 oz), and Lola (16 lb 4 oz) models. Generally use the Lola on flatwater, and the Rio Bravo on whitewater. My wife, not a powerful swimmer, wears the Rio Grande. All 3 have served us well for several years, are comfortable, are still in good condition, and are used regularly.

That said; I believe my next pfd, if & when I decide to buy one, will be by Astral. Like the looks of their Aquavest 200 Type III pullover.

They are generally a little more expensive than Lotus Design vests, but I have heard good things about them through the grapevine. Since I use a vest for 4 or 5 years, I figure the initial cost is spread out over time, and I “never” ever considered “going cheap” when I buy a pfd.

Shop around, and try on as many different models as you can find. It may be awhile before you’re going to be wearing one with regularity anyway.


I vote to go
mid range on paddle and pfd. money wise that is.I have found my $60 PFD and $70 paddle work well and didn’t cost too much more than lowest end gear avalible. As for specific brands I know what I like , you need to find what you like.

Budget and intent are so crucial

– Last Updated: Dec-19-04 8:58 PM EST –

do you wnat to puse the learning curve or just be in a boat/

For learning curve pushers I like Onno, epic, lightning and some werner paddles,

For slackers stay away fron lightning.

budget pfds MTI/ High end: astral, stohlquist. and lotus if you WW. For High end sea kayakers types lotus doesn't make anything with pochets that conforms well anymore. My old locean is a classic with massive pockets nd It looks like I'll be wearing it for a long time. the new locean makes it obvious that the folks at lotus don't know the difference between a rodeo and an expedition. Is lotus listening?

I prefer Astral…
I’ve owned many PFDs over the years, and my current is my all time favorite. I have an Astral Aquavest 200 which I use for both touring and Whitewater, and I love it for both. There is a large pocket in the front for personal items or a water bladder, and a pocket lined with fleece behind it for warming up your hands or placing a rescue rope in. This PFD can usually be purchased for between $100-$120, and is well worth the money. As far as a decent, cost-friendly paddle, look at the Harmony Sea Passage. It’s a good all-around paddle that you can pick up at a good price.

Second The Astral

– Last Updated: Dec-20-04 7:50 AM EST –

for great comfort and adjustability. Gearheads can forget about it since there is only one pocket. The only things I keep in the Astral pocket are a snack bar and occaisonally my camera or VHF.

I use the Astral for all paddling -- ww, surf and touring. I especially like the orange color as it's very visible.

Paddle - I'll have to admit that I would prefer some mid range glass from any of the reputable manufacturers. I think this will save you in the long run in you have even an inkling that you'll be in the sport for awhile. It'll save from having upgrading. I started with some plastic and aluminum shaft stuff. Battle axes that I got rid of after the first season.


Go Astral
I’ll join the growing chorus. I use an Astral 300T, yeah that’s the one with all the toys, but as I got that I was given a Tempo 200 L-XL that I never took out of the closet. It could use a good home for the holidays. I’m about the same dimension as you so it’d fit great. As to a paddle I’d recommend a Mitchell Escape fiberglass. Would a used one be ok, drop me a line if you’d like either.

See you on the water,