PFDs for Sit On Top

MTI Adventurewear makes a very nice reasonably priced pfd that’s great for SOTs. It has a high back so it does not ride up and the bottom is mesh which also helps keep you cool.

My husband needed a new pfd, so I gave him my blue MTI Orleans for crabbing and ordered 2 new MTI Orleans model for both of us. They sell for $59.99 most places or more. I got them online for $39 each, no tax, plus no shipping since the order was more than $50. I got a mango one to better match my yellow kayak & paddle. Hubby also got Mango to be seen better on the water. It will match my dog’s pfd color too.


I’ve always liked the

– Last Updated: Jul-10-08 10:16 AM EST –

$25 or so PFDs that can be found at The Sports Authority or Target or Wallmart. I have used one for two years on a SOT, bought a second one as a spare and for friends.

These are the type with three or four lines with straps and buckles on the front, no mesh or fabric on the side - open so they are the coolest ones you can find. Any other type I know of that is suitable for paddling will have some material on the sides thus restricting airflow more than these. Being open on the sides also means absolutely no restriction of your arm movements either.

They have very good flotation too, as they have more material on the back and on the front than a typical "high-end" kayaking life vest. Bright colors and very light weight don't hurt either.

However, for when I anticipate rough waters or practice with many re-entries, I prefer to wear my "high-end" paddling-specific PFD, which has fewer straps to get caught on things and stays more snug to me. Plus it has a couple of pockets that come handy for a whistle, car key, radio, etc.

For a SOT I think just about any coast guard approved PDF will do as long as it does not interfere with your motion and keeps you cool in hot weather.

kocho/My Vest
I think Sportco had the vest for less than the usual selling price of $59.99+, because they bought a one time big batch of them, but they didn’t have my size or color anymore.

Yes, it does have straps on the side so it is not as hot. I do stay mostly in protected waters, so it fits my needs. It does have an nice latch, like a key holder inside the pocket which I attach my neck strap on my hat to, so when my hat hangs off the back of my head when I’m not using it, the straps don’t pull on the front of my neck.

This is the site I bought it from and the vest:


MTI Fisherman - I Like It
I bought an MTI Fisherman. I don’t see it advertised on their site now.

I paid a lot more for it, but I bought it in a paddle shop in Santa Cruz, so I probably paid a premium for it.

I like it. It has a lot of pockets on the front. It has a high back that doesn’t interfere with the backband on the SOT.

Its a recreational type vest that I bought to maybe wear on big fresh water lakes, like Tahoe, where I normally don’t wear a PFD. (Go ahead, if you must)

It has actually worked its way up the ranks to the the “first” gear bag, replacing a more expensive Solquist kayaking PFD that I used for coastal paddling. I have been wearing it on the ocean.

I even wore it into the sea caves at Mendocino this year, but I still wear a ski vest if I really think I am going to get beat up.

I would definitely say I am wearing a PFD more often since I got the MTI.

Far be it from me to give advise to anyone to wear their pfd, as I consider that a parent’s job to instruct their kids, but as you seem to intimate, the fit is important and if it feels good, a person will tend to wear it.

My husband was looking at the fisherman pfd, since he fishes alot, maybe the pro one, but opted for the Orleans to have a bright vest since we’re around boats on many occassions.

Back to not wearing a vest, lol. I do think it may be more important on a lake if it’s freshwater, because you don’t have the boyancy of salt water, so I feel it’s easier to drown. Just a thought:) Stay safe!


The best PFD is

You thought I was going to say something ugly, didn’t you?

Paddlin’ on


Reflection II - Also MTI
There is another MTI pfd called Reflection II. It seems to be less padded in front, has a clip at the bottom of the vest in addition to the zipper, maybe making it an upgraded Orleans or similar to the Solaris, but Reflection goes all the way down your back and has side padding which will be hot in the summer. It rode up on my husband. That one was $65. at REI.

I’m not saying the MTI Orleans is the best vest out there, but getting it for $39.99 on sale instead of $59.99+, I feel it’s a good deal and fits well.


If you fish, mesh isn’t good
Hooks hang on it.

The mesh is only on the back on the bottom half where I don’t think it’s exposed to getting hooked. If my husband hooked himself, at least he can say he caught something, lol. Fish have been very elusive. He did catch a nice sized lingcod on a camping trip from the beach where all 3 men were able to eat it as dinner.


Hooks have this amazing ability
to hang up where you least expect. Mesh anywhere attracts them like a magnet.

Yak, I’ll let my husband know that when we get our pfds, they still have to arrive by mail, he may want to be careful when fishing.