paddle/PFD advice

Need advice on correct paddle length also comfortable brand of PFD for canoe paddling.

I’m primarily a kayaker so I can’t help you with the paddle, but I’ve tried and owned a lot of PFD’s. My favorite so far has been the Astral V8 model. It’s cut short for paddle sports and has a ventilated design that is very flexible and comfortable even in hot weather. The only drawback is that it has kind of skimpy pockets. Some of their other models do have better pockets, like the Ronny, Norge and Camino.

Paddle length
depends on how tall you are and how you paddle. I’m 5"10", kneel most of the time, and use a 57" straight paddle. Bent shaft paddles are usually shorter. We’ll need to know more about how you paddle to help sizing a paddle.

Good PFD’s for canoes are tough to find. They are all too short, and a lot of them have the half mesh back for sitting in a kayak. Add to that the need for pockets and places to clip stuff, and a good PFD can be tough to find. I finally gave up trying to find the perfect PFD, and got an NRS Vista. It’s worked out fine, but there are lots of other options.


– Last Updated: Jul-03-15 11:10 AM EST –

I too miss CANOEING PFD's like the old SEDA PFD's. For us over 6', most modern PFD's fit like Kramer and George's "Bro" or "Manzier" (LOL)!

How low does the Vista adjust? I like mine to my waist.

Best way to find the right PFD is try 'em on. When you live hundreds of miles from paddling stores like me, though, best to ask advice and order from online stores with liberal return policies just in case. Stores like NRS and REI.

Paddle length depends upon your height, whether you kneel or sit, and seat height in your boat. I'm 6'1" and I prefer shorter paddles and kneel. I like 54" straight, 50-52" bent, and something like a Beavertail I can go as long as 56" without it feeling uncomfortably long.

It’s short too, no where near the the waist, but at least it has a full back. It also has two big pocket (camera and sunglasses) and a hook for my keys. I’m happy with it.

What it doesn’t have is a good hook to attach a whistle, so I attached it to the zipper. No the best, but it works.

here’s a BendBranches link, pretty close

– Last Updated: Jul-03-15 4:54 PM EST –
Always opinionated...I like a little longer bentshaft than what is usually listed...fwiw, but it's your standard scale = pretty accurate.

PFDs: if it’s not on you,
you don’t have it. One of the lessons learned while reading the “Deep Trouble” books.

If you find a comfortable PFD but don’t think it has enough pockets to hold your required gear, check out the Kokatat Tactic Pack.

I wear an Astral YTV which has two small pockets on the side. I also have the Tactic Pack which easily holds essentials with room to spare. It’s attached to your PFD and worn on your back. No interference with the backband of my kayak. Great piece of gear that I don’t leave home without.

Here’s a video of Marshall from The River Connection showing how the pack works:

I did modify mine so that each bottom hook attaches to a strip of webbing with velcro on the end. I belt it around my waist and tuck it under my PFD. If I need something from the pack, I can easily pop the velcro tabs, flip the entire pack over my head, and access what I need. Flip it back, reattach the velcro, and I’m off.

Went in the water with it a couple times last weekend and was happily surprised to see that a couple of breakfast bars stashed in one of the pockets remained dry. They were not in a waterproof bag.

try a fishing pfd
tend to have longer torso. You may or may not need all the extra pockets, but the ones you don’t use don’t add much weight or bulk.

Many companies make fishing vests: Kokatat, NRS, MTI, Extrasport, Astral etc.

Link to a recent review of fishing life jackets from a fishing kayak forum:

I Hate Zippers
Quick release buckles are for me.

As a kayaker I don’t want full pockets. That impedes reentry.

With PFDs, for me, the more adjustable the better.

pnet archive is great resource
Use the pnet archives…a great resource.

Simply use “correct paddle length”, and “comfortable pfd” as subjects of your search.

You will find hundreds, if not thousands of responses to your requests for information.

YOU say nothing about what boat you would be paddling, or what class of water you’d be paddling. Basically, you provide nothing people could use as a starting point for providing suggestions.