I’m a big guy (6’2") and I never wear my PFD because I got one of those crappy Stearns el-cheapo PFD’s. It’s horribly uncomfortable and all it does is satisfy the Coast Guard requirements that I have one on board. In the water it rides up and hampers my swimming (not dangerously though).

Surfing the web I see so damn many different PFD’s and they all seem pretty expensive. Since Pnet is full of opinions I figured I’d ask.

I’m a recreational paddler and want something with pockets that will hold a camera, a water bottle, and have room for a sammich or two.

Any recommendations?

Check out Extrasport
I’m fairly happy with their PFD. My camera fits easily in the vest pocket.

Ditto Extrasport…
…they make several kinds. All are good.

Another good one to check out, since you are an occasional boater, is LL Bean. They have some

whih I think are actually made by MTI. It might

be adequate for you and a bit cheaper.

Check out MTI’s webpage
They have several models that are about 50 -70 bucks (if you buy at the right place online.)

the least amount of opinon…
I have ever seen on a P-net thread containing the subject of PFDs!! I agree full heartedly with MTI and Extrasport as where to look. Last year I got a new PFD and had to decide between the two, I got the MTI, the final 10 dollar straw was no sticker with MTI, but $10 less. (for $5 I would have gone with the sticker)

Some strens are pretty good for swiming, the ones with the mesh tops. I prefer the mesh backs for comfort and fit. I am a slender young men, and most mens items don’t fit me right, but neither do womens…so I am often up a creek. My old standard Livery style PFD rode up a bit in the water, my super cool MTI fits great.

as far as not wearing it, if you don’t want to, then don’t (even though we all know you should. But if you plan not to, then get one with buckles, not a zipper. when you are in a pinch and you need to get it on, buckles can be put on in water, zippers are a pain in the ass. I know, I am a pretty poor swimmer, and so I have practiced after I toppled once and had my PFD open.

Good luck in your search!!


P.S. remeber in price, $10 gets another pocket, $20 gets that pocket plus COMFORT. so add $35 to your budget, it is WELL worth it.

Thanks for the advice.

lol…occaisonal paddler…nope, I do it as often as I can but I’m not very serious about paddling itself. The boat just gets me places where my feet can’t :slight_smile:

Be sure that the one you buy
is comfortable or you will be less likely to wear it.

Keep in mind that the vests that are made for water skiing are long, and tend to ride up when you are seated, and may chafe or bother you in the neck area or your armpits . Ouch !!!

Do like me and know how to swim real well , and know how to "cowboy up " real quick, or lest ye drown, ! Better yet, just keep the vest on and be safe !

Serratus is also popular
I prefer the yak style pfds for the freedom of movement.

Yes they are expensive. Not to sound snotty, what’s your life worth? $100?

Check out Stolquist “Motion” PFD
I solved this problem by buying a new PFD. My old one was a longer version, and I wanted to get a shorter one, so it didn’t interfere with my seat back. had it on sale last year, and they do free shipping for anything over $99.00.

I don’t like to scrimp on a PFD, as it is “my life” I am trying to protect. I really like the “Motion” PFD, as it has 3 pockets on the front I use all of the time. It has 2 large ones, and a small pocket for a cell phone or GPS.

It is really comfortable too, as it has several straps to adjust the fit, which a cheaper model does not have.

Happy paddling!

Astral LDB
Might not have all the sandwich space your looking for but as for comfort, I’ve been hard pressed to find something better than the Astral pfds. I’ve replaced all my outdoor program pfds with the Tempo line but they will be coming out with a LDB which is a full mesh back, very comfy pfd. As with the Tempo line you can put a hydration bladder into the back or if you’re going to switch gears to whitewater it can accept a Booster floatation pod. Cost will be $95, not sure on availablity yet.

See you on the water,


Small Dry Bag
Might want to try a small dry bag for the sandwiches. I have 2 kinds. One, I have clipped behind my seat that I usually use for lunch. I also have a small fanny pack style dry bag that I use for a variety of things. I don’t think I spent much for either of them.


Lotus Mildwater
I got one for my wife for Christmas, now I /have to talk her into letting me use it.

Big as in
chest size too? I wear a 50" suit coat, and I have a Kokatat PFD in XXL that is very comfortable. even has additional adjustment on the straps for bigger folk. I give it two thumbs up.


Is Comfort Important?
The web is great if you know exactly what you want.

If you don’t, then go to a good store where the clerks are knowledgable and ask for some help. The experience of these people is worth a couple extra dollars.

(Some stores even have VERY competitive prices.)