pfd fit question

when i 1st started kayaking i bought a lotus xs life jacket. well, lets say i have put on a few pounds and i was thinking my jacket was a little to small… maybe i need a new one i thought. well i was doing some wet exit exercises and my jacket was up in my mouth…i was told…tighten that vest up. i was so happy to hear i needed to tighten it up… an xs still fits yahoo!!! but in all seriousness, just how tight should a vest feel or be? is there any guide so to speak of to go by? i started a womens’ kayak group and i want to stress how important a proper fit is…i experienced it first hand…so now i get the feel. would it be safe to say…walk out until your feet don’t touch and check the fit, come back in readjust and try it again?

thanks for your imput .

after a few real swims you will KNOW how tight it has to be. It won’t ride up. It’s tighter than you think BUT it is still comfortable. I’ve had tons of experience with this…swimming in a PFD that is.

“P” prevents

“F” freaking, fricking, f***ing

“D” drowning


lift test

– Last Updated: Jul-07-09 2:19 PM EST –

If someone can pull up on the shoulder straps and lift the pfd out of position, it is too loose. I like my pfd almost claustrophobic tight. No need to go that far, but pretty darned tight is good. No matter what gender.

great tip
that is a great out of water test!

thanks !

Maine Moose
Hook your thumbs under the shoulder straps and lift. If you can stick your thumbs in your ears, making yourself into a Maine Moose, then it’s not snug enough.

That said - being a self-proclaimed fat guy, I can’t snug up the vest enough to be comfortable and properly fit.

crotch strap
If your PFD rides up even when cinched down tight, or if you don’t like it tight enough to keep it from riding up, or if you plan to swim through some really wicked rapids or surf, you could consider adding a crotch strap to your PFD.

wish they came with a crotch strap

straps and skirts
Crotch straps don’t work well with spray skirts if the PFD goes over the skirt tunnel – as most do.

what you need to do
if you want to use a crotch strap with a skirt is to have a belt inside the PFD that the crotch strap attaches to. You do have to wear the tunnel of the skirt a little lower, but it can work.

i do occasionally wear
i use a spray skirt from time to time and mine is ok now…the rest of the group women are rec. kayaker’s and a spray skirt is not an issue. so these are great tips. thanks.

guess I didn’t think that through well
but then I wear my socks over my shoes too

Another approach is to install
mounting point inside and outside the skirt tunnel. The PFD is attached to the tunnel. The tunnel, inside, has crotch straps. The inside and outside mounting points need not be the same, but if they are not, then the stretchiness of the tunnel may compromise the effect of the crotch straps.

It surprises me, after the many instances where a class 3+ incident has led to a body with no PFD, why such a solution has not been implemented.

I agree
with this, especially in rough conditions. But in practice I admit that I leave my PFD comfortably loose. I have a PFD that can be quickly tightened with a single pull on the shoulder straps—the shoulder straps tighten both the shoulders and the sides at the same time. Left loose it won’t actually pull off me in the water, and I’m betting on having a second to tighten it once overboard. I adjust my PFD to the conditions—always tighter in cold and rough water.