PFD, Riding up, Canoe, Big Guy, Belly Solution

Pretty new to paddling here bought myself a canoe and her a rec-kayak I paddle flat water and slow creeks I fish and I like to be safe in doing it. When we got the boats this spring I bought us a couple of basic bottom of the PFD line Stohlquist 3 buckle vest and they are ok. I’m a bigger guy and 6’ and at 65 I’m not in the shape I was at 25 even 35 and lets say the V shaped torso might be a bit of the reverse V now.

I don’t know what percentage of the male population over 60 that paddle are ideal for most PFDs but there seem to be a lot from the 100s of threads I read today on (riding up PFD) and a few other searches.

I was thinking maybe something higher quality more expensive might be better. I wanted a few pockets and attachment points and was looking into fishing PFDs and found the Kokatat Bahia Predator on sale in my size for 65 bucks and it had a lower strap along with the zipper and many more adjustments like the shoulder straps. Everything is made for kayaks I was noticing but this had a flotation lumbar pad and I liked that also. So I bought it. Fits great feels great. Do the thumb lift test and up she comes. Tighten the lower anti lift strap till its becoming uncomfortable and let the shoulders out to the max and better, but up she comes. Now I know the solution is take a few inches off the middle and I’m working on it.

I read a bunch of threads that said rig a crotch strap and I played around a little with that idea and I think it might work ok but to be comfortable they need to not be real tight and when sitting or kneeling it changes so in some positions it will still ride up some and that little amount changes the rest of the fit and I see myself tugging it down. I read a couple people that run a carabineer from their pants belt or belt loops to the PFD straps or buckle and I could see how that would help, but I don’t normally wear pants like that in the warmer weather on the water. I started looking at how can I lower that bottom strap a little and it is all sewn in and it is what it is.

I got the idea to add another buckle strap and a link to the other buckle. I cut a buckle strap to the right length to fit me and the leftover I made a link strap out of. I just stitched it quickly by hand to try it and tomorrow I will take it to our tack shop in town and have them sew it good. I fed the strap thru the back adjusters for the lower strap and that keeps the belt with the PFD.

It works great I just snug up the new lower strap and sitting, standing or kneeling is comfortable and nothing going thru my legs. It all goes on and off fast and the best part is the PFD doesn’t ride up.

I haven’t had it in the water yet but when I do I will report back.

If you have a belly and are having issues you might want to give it a try. :canoe:

The Tack Shop lady Marty sewed my strap up for free this morning and while I waited her cockatoo flew over and sat on my shoulder and kept me company. Seems he likes to pull beard hairs out.

Anyway here is the finished job and I’m not proud of needing the help but it works. Feels like the PFD is glued to me now. :canoe:

PS: It pulls down not just in the front but also two places in the back.

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Similar problem here, my waist is bigger than my chest, so my Kokata PFD just works its way up as I paddle, no matter what I do with the 3 pairs of side straps.

NRS sells “NRS PFD Leg Straps” for $9.95, I connect them to the bottom straps of the PFD and around each thigh.


  • not compatible with a dry top/dry bottom combination that incorporates a seal for your spray deck tunnel
  • potential snag hazard
  • not as elegant/ergonomic as your customized solution

When I stand up the straps cut in my crotch a bit, but it keeps my PFD from riding up when in the water. And at $9.95, it’s a cheap fix.

Hi Eric.
Your leg straps are just about the same thing I bought as a general purpose snap strap. I bought a set of 4 for about 9 bucks and my original plan was to use two of them for thigh straps just as you are doing and cut off the extra and seal the cut ends with a lighter. I tried them that way with the Stohlquist PDF and it worked but like you I didn’t care for the feel and just put up with them riding up on me. When I bought the Kokatat PFD the reviews said the lower band would get under the rib cage and prevent creeping up. Well I can still feel my ribs but there is enough rib padding that for it to work I had to get it too tight to be comfortable.

So again I tried them as thigh straps and they felt about the same, but the Kokatat lower strap got me thinking. I even thought about taking the whole thing to the harness shop and having her cut it apart and sew in a new panel 5.5” lower. Then I thought why do all that and it might not work and might make the PFD not pass muster if I get stopped. I started experimenting with just a belt and that worked but attaching it thru the back buckles pulled down on the back also. I measured and 5.5” was what I needed. Everyone would be a little different. If the center strap was adjustable we would have a product to sell. LOL.

The sad part is hardly anyone builds stuff for plus size folks and when you do find something it is not serious equipment for real enthusiasts.

I don’t know how the strap would work with a spray skirt. I’m in a canoe.

Give it a try if you get tired of the leg straps. :canoe:

PS: I have about 3 bucks into it.

As to PFDs and clothing and leg straps.

We are fair weather boaters. We live up north and wait for the water to get warm enough before heading out knowing we don’t plan on going for a swim but don’t rule it out. So most of the time I’m wearing a tee shirt under the PFD and a long boxer swimsuit or something like basketball comfortable shorts. Rarely long pants or any thing like a wet suit. So when I tried leg / crotch straps for them to be effective they have to actually have a little pull to them. To be honest bunching my shorts or swimsuit up was not the fashion statement I was wanting to make. Trust me no one cares less about fashion than me so for me to not go for the look it has to be bad. That and for leg straps to be comfortable IMO they need to be a little bit loose. If my belly band is wore a tad loose it is 2 seconds to chinch it tight. Finding the leg straps in the water to tighten seemed to be tougher.

I carry a light weight military digital camo poncho with me in the canoe at all times and it will get me thru most weather changes I will see boating. It works great with the PFD for quick on and off.

Join MY club diet. It will extend my life I think, and I’LL be more comfortable doing everything. I don’t drive myself scale crazy I wear basically the same type pants doing most everything. I want 38" waist pants out of the dryer loose on me. Length is 32" Screw the scales. Me I’m 68.6 years old.

I was going to suggest to reverse wear suspenders… but the under shelf lasso idea seems to work :slight_smile:

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Haha Pretty much leg loops are reverse suspenders.

My father always told me if you have something valuable build a roof over it. :upside_down_face:

You sound like a person that would have little to no need for leg straps or my bellyband and that’s good for you.

I agree slimming down would be good for about 90% of us Americans from what I see walking around and paddling is one way for them to help do that and extend our lives. The extending life thru diet and exercise is a good plan, and on the water peoples lives can be extended by not drowning with improper fitting PFDs that have been designed with the 10% in mind.

Some of it actually a lot of it is within our control and lifestyle changes play a part for sure and there is also a component genetics of aging that changes how many of us are shaped. In my 20s I was 6’ 150 pounds and would pack 8-10 sandwiches in my dinner bucket and never gain a pound. Sure I was more active and I also had a ramped up young metabolism.

IMO and from all the threads I have read on the subject there are a lot of people that have trouble with keeping these modern PFDs that are intended for active usage from sliding up. So I posted this as it worked for me and might help someone else with a body shape where their PFD isn’t staying put.

I suspect a lot more people read this forum than actually post as that are true of most forums. I also understand many might not want to comment on a weight related fitting problem with PDFs as most posters here are enthusiasts and at a pretty high level. I worded the title hoping to draw search results for folks looking for solutions.

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