Proper PFD fit

I need to find right PFD for me. I’m 6.1 tall and 250 lb heavy. Unfortunately, these 250 lb are concentrated around middle part of the body. As a result, all vest I’m trying to fit are going up. So, what can I do (please stay away from good diet or exercise recommendations…)? May be I didn’t find right vest?

Please help…


A couple of possible tricks…
First, you can sew on crotch straps, with adjustable plastic buckles. But these may not keep the PFD from shifting up when you are sitting in the boat.

A second possibility is to sew on short strap segments that attach to the sides of your pants, perhaps to belt loops.

If you try on enough extra large PFDs, you may find some that shift up less. But you never know until you take a swim.

Looks like business opportunity
- vests for overweighted non-athletic people :slight_smile:

I was thinking myself about something like short strap to attach vest to pants belt, but I can’t believe that I’m first with such problem… Should be something on the market!

Try Astral Brand
Previously their whitewater PFDs would not tend to ride up on fat bellies. They have changed the design a bit though … take a look at this model…

for me…
I tried both methods that g2d suggested. I stayed with the crotch straps.

The Law
If you are paddling where an approved PFD is required, then you should know that sewing anything onto the PFD voids the approval.

That is so stupid that it calls for

I don’t care about law in this case
I want functional one. And if law doesn’t like it, then may be it is wrong law.

How about this model?

Will it works well for quiet lakes and rivers?

Probably not.
If you read the REI reviews, there’s at least a complaint or two about it riding up. If you’re predisposed to that, it probably better to look at something else.

Depends on your gut size
If you can get the lower cinch belt below your gut and pull it tight comfortably it probably won’t ride up.

Go someplace you can try on a bunch
Finding one that fits, and is comfortable isn’t easy. I’m 5’10", 220 lbs with a bit of a gut - I use an old Extrasport Retroglide with 16.5 lbs floatation. I’d try to find something that’s long on your torso - stay away from the low profile vests designed for kayakers. I also find that my PFD needs to be adjusted snug all around or it will ride up. It takes a little tug to get my jacket zipped up, and the lower belt is tight. I don’t find it uncomfortable, but maybe I’m use to it.

wish I could help ya Dmitry …

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 10:01 AM EST –

..... a proper fit "is" important and I feel you "will" find one that works for you just right .

I'm on the taller thin side of the body shapes with more of a V upper body and most any PFD can be adjusted to fit me , so I have no experience with other body shapes and PFD fits ... we are all shaped different .

I saw not too long ago , someone posted a link to a T shirt like shaped supplemental floatation device ... not an approved PFD but supplemental floatation only . Surely it would be hell in hot weather , but could be a nice thing in cooler weather . Maybe someone will repost about it for future consideration .

Looking at the one you posted , it appears to be a rather large and longish arm hole pattern , having it's front floatation cells concentrated on the lower part of the PFD . This could be a good thing maybe "if" you can lengthen the shoulder straps enough to get the waist belt secured under your larger mid section . The lack of floatation cell bulk in the upper body area and longish arm holes "may" make it fit you well , I just don't know ... you'll have to put it on and see .

Another thought that is almost the exact opposite of the style you linked would be one that has very close and tight fitting arm holes and neck line ... the way they would lock around your shoulders and lower neck (being very close fitted) seems that could stop the PFD from riding up . Think about it , if it fits fairly close around your arms/shoulders and neck line , it shouldn't be able to ride up over your face and head .

One thing to consider about a PFD , is that it's not like your whole body weight is hanging from the PFD ... this is because your body will have a natural bouyancy which the PFD supplements . That's why the PFD bouyancy ratings are are so small compared to your actual bddy weight , they supply enough bouyancy to float your "in the water weight" which isn't much in poundage .

I wouldn't know this for sure but it's said that puffier people float better than skinny people like me ... probably something true about that for anatomical reasons .

Hard to fit
There are some body types that are hard to fit in a life jacket. Big belly are the hardest and sometimes near impossible.

The option then is to use these types of straps:


Thanks, with the right PFD, those
would go on easily.

I think I’m going to try
to saw suspenders to the vest. Should works, right? Then I can use almost any vest.

I was just about exactly the same size as you before I lost a lot of weight and got healthy (ok, I won’t mention or how I reversed my heart disease and diabetes and high blood pressure and obesity)

The brand that worked best for me was Stohlquist - the ones where chest straps cross over each other (e.g. the Tow Motion). That was the only system that would stay down on me in the water. My experience was that the Astrals were particularly bad. The Kokatat Ronin worked ok, but not as well as the Stohlquists. That cross strapping really worked to keep the vest down when my waist was about as big as my shoulders and chest.

The Stohlquist was also good for another problem that you might encounter - getting your belly up on the back deck for a rescue. With your structure, you don’t want a lot of bulk in front of your already big middle - it makes it hard to launch onto the back deck.