PFD Choices

I am looking for a PFD. What do you think? I tried on a Lotis Lolo and liked it. Can’t see spending over 100 on a life vest. Want to make sure it will be comfy although as a canoe paddler with two yougin’s maybe the seat floats will do fine??? Help!

seat floats don’t qualify
Seat floats don’t legally qualify as PFD’s. And if the “youngin’s” are in the boat, you need to have them in (wearing) good-fitting PFD’s. They don’t have to be expensive as long as they do the job. You can pick up some good ones for the kids at Wal-Mart. Whether or not you go all out on your own is up to you. You can find some nice ones for a lot less than $100. But DO NOT take kids out in a canoe with just floating cushions. At the very least you may end up with a well-deserved ticket.

How much is a life worth?
Can’t see spending $100 on a PFD? To save a life? how much is your or your kids life worth? I’d get a top notch PFD!

The Lotus Lola is a great PFD. Also check out Extrasport at

They and Lotus are the top PFD’s in my experience.

Joe O’

The youngin’s actually already have child PFDs with the crotch strap and the extra head flotation thing. Just shopping for the wofe and I.

Consider This…

Also with children, eventually they catch on to and rebel against: “Do as I say and not as I do…”


Seat cushions?

– Last Updated: Feb-15-04 3:36 PM EST –

Read the ACA's report on paddling deaths ( and you'll see that the majority of them are canoeists. One thing the deceased canoeists have in common is that nearly all of them were not wearing PFD's. How do you think your kids will get along if you and your wife drown?

Buy good PFD's that are comfortable enough that you'll wear them whenever you paddle. Spend whatever it takes. They last for many years, so the cost per year is negligible. Set a good example for your kids and you'll all be better off.

I picked up stohlquist for my family. I like the fact that they zip up the middle and are comfortable. My wife and daughter have the bet sea (designed for women)and I have the drifter. Try them out before you buy. I first bought another brand that zipped on the side and had to go over your head like a shirt. A terrible design in my opinion. You won’t wear it if it rubs when you paddle or is uncomfortable in any way.

I second the Stohlquist BetSea
I too find the front zip Stohlquist BetSea a great design. I had a Lotus Sherman with a side zip, and I had a hard time finding the zipper!



– Last Updated: Feb-16-04 7:42 AM EST –

Suggestions from other paddlers are a good place to start.
I agree that one hundred dollars is not too much to pay for a quality pfd, if you figure the cost per year, you factor in peace of mind, and personal safety.
The pfds suggested are good ones, but none will do the job if they aren't worn. Make sure they fit comfortably, and correctly; no matter what the brand.
I noted on your profile that you paddle whitewater. If you do that on a regular basis, I think you might consider a pfd with a little more floatation than the Lotus Lola(16 lb, 4oz), especially if you are over 170 pounds. In whitewater, the place you need the pfd the most may be aerated water, and that's where the extra floatation may be appreciated. I have a Lotus Lola, but use it only on flatwater; I have a Lotus Rio Bravo (17 lb, 4oz) I use on whitewater. My wife, who is not as comfortable in the water uses a Lotus Rio Grande (18 lb, 6 oz).
Don't try to skimp when it comes to safety.

Good luck,

I just bought a Lotus Strait Jacket.
It cost $149- but it doesn’t bang me in the chin all the time like my Lotus Rio Grande so it is worth it to me. Very comfortable- almost forget I have it on. There are a lot out there to try on and you need to try them on to make sure they fit you right and don’t get in your way. I’m sure you can get something for around $100- that will fill the bill for you but the key is you have to try them on.—Rich

Lotus Rio Grande
If the Lotus Rio Grande is banging you in the chin, you might try this:

Loosen the straps on the shoulder so the vest sits a little lower on you body.

Tighten the side adjustment straps (all of them) so that it will fit you body snugly (not tight).

Someone should be able to grab the shoulder straps & pull up on them without the pfd riding up on your body. If someone can easily pull the shoulder straps up & make the pfd rise up under your chin, the pfd isn’t correctly adjusted. Trying to swim in a pfd that is too loosely adjusted may result in the pfd coming up in front of your face.


what about exrtasport challenger
very common among my sailing friends. my daughter has one i am thinking about two for my paddling buddy et moi aargh so do those mesh uppers make for a more comfortable paddle or what

Can’t say enough about stohlquist.

They are the only PFDs with more flotation in front than in back so they tend to float you face up.

The flotation is split about 60/40 front to back so it’s not enough to interfere with swimming. They also tend to have a little more flotation than the other guys.

They have several models under $100. For the best deals search the web. The Wedge-e is a great model for recreational paddling.

PFD Choices
Check out the new one on the market, Astral Bouyancy’s Tempo 200 for a starter.

There are effective PFDs on REIoutlet

– Last Updated: Feb-18-04 10:40 PM EST –

and Sierra Trading Post. You don't need to spend 100 bucks just for flatwater canoeing. I've never spent that much, even for my Stohlquist Max or my Lotus Sherman.

One of my pet peeves is seeing couples with kids canoeing on the Metro Chattahoochee around Atlanta, the kids properly done up in pfds, but the parents sitting on theirs. So if they do dump in the mild rapids, the parents will be significantly handicapped by lack of pfds while they try to gather up the kids and gear.

Fire & Brimstone sermon…







Stirring Testimonial:

After dumping in a bay last summer, I had enough to do

gathering my wits, corralling equipment, towing boat to shore, etc. My PFD took care of survival. If I’d had kids to corral (perhaps not wearing PFDs because Daddy didn’t), some of us may well have drowned. And this was a nice day with warm water.


has some Stohlquist vests in their bargain section for 40% off. I bought a Wedge and think it is really comfortable. We also use the Brik vest and it is also nice…only shortcoming is they both could use another pocket.

Uncomfortable life jackets don’t
get worn. Buy a comfortable life jacket that gives you the freedom you need to paddle comfortably, and that has the design features that will easily allow you to carry the safety things you will need on the water you paddle in: a whistle, flashlight or strobe light, perhaps a flare or knife,and maybe some lip balm or extra sunscreen. Some even have pockets for a GPS or VHF radio. A life jacket isn’t the place to cut corners on cost, especially if you have 'young-uns" to support:)

BTW, I love my lola. I do wish it had a little more pocket space, but it’s very comfortable when paddling.