Time for a new PFD

-- Last Updated: Jan-27-16 10:45 AM EST --

My 20 year old Lotus has holes wearing in both pockets from my PLB and whistle
Who has what?
What ones would you never get again ?
I need one with pockets that have attachments points
I also want one that zippers on.

Jack L

I have a Stohlquist
…a cheaper one, which they don’t make anymore and used to be a bright yellow, but became extremely faded within about three years and the nylon is looking fuzzy and thin (no holes yet, but looks weak in some spots.

My wife has a Stohlquist too, but hers looks much better made. We’ll see how long it lasts, but she hardly ever paddles, so it may last forever, ha!

I am thinking about getting an NRS or a Kokatat and possibly a Mocke for the hot summer months in Texas (it is all mesh, so much cooler).

Kokatat Ronin Pro
Picked this PFD up about 3 years ago, it’s rugged and comfortable.


From the Lotus
From the same guy who designed your Lotus (Phil Curry) now makes Astral Designs PFDs and Footwear.

I would recommend the Sea Wolf. It is very different from your Lotus, but has plenty of pocket-age that doesn’t make you look and feel like a pineapple grenade.

It’s the sea kayaker version of the whitewater rescue vest, the Green Jacket.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



I agree on Astral

– Last Updated: Jan-29-16 5:04 PM EST –

My first PFD was a Lotus Lola and when I went to replace it I settled on Astrals, which had the same quality and good fit (as Marshall explains, they are by the same design team as Lotus). I have 3 by now (the well ventilated V-8 model for hot weather and warmer water, the more buoyant and insulating Camino for open water and cooler weather, and a new Abba because I liked the flexible fit, but mostly because it came in a gorgeous green that looked great with my two favorite kayaks (and it has better pockets than the other two.) Kokatats are great PFD's too, but I have yet to find one that fits me as well as Astrals do. And Astrals are a hair cheaper.

Short Torso
and long biking legs make the Kokatat MSFit the one for me. It may be a woman’s PFD but I don’t feel especially pretty in it. No desire to put on makeup.

Is that a pump…
under your skirt or are you just glad to be paddling?

Good one pikeabike
I cracked up!

I’ll make sure in the future I’ll always have my pump on the back deck, so I don’t get attacked by some young

over sexed female.

On the other hand it might be good to have it sticking up under my skirt.

jack L

Ah’s a sinker, so…
Ah’s need flootation. Me lifevest dat ah’s mostly waar is…



Agree about the MsFit
I have gone through some different PFD’s “in search of” that elusive “perfect” PFD and I think the MsFit is about as good as it gets.

I’ve had 1) LL Bean, 2) Astral ??, 3) Stohlquist BetSea, 4) Kokatat MsFit

MsFit by FAR the best for me.

I wish this had a “like” button…
good one

Lots of guys like the MS-Fit
All the features you mentioned, and unlike the male version the zipper is sensibly placed in the middle.

One thing I appreciate about the Kokatat PFD’s is that they pass the Coast Guard certification with the zippers undone, just with the two clips on. Can be a little nicer on a hot day. Skip the guide version though - you lose pockets and waist tow belts are easier anyway.

I second the Astral Sea Wolf
When my 14 year-old Lotus Sea Sherman finally gave out a year ago I replaced it with the Sea Wolf and I couldn’t be happier. Plenty of easily accessible storage space including tethers for important gear you really do no want to lose (PLB, GPS, hand compass, etc.) The Sea Wolf is also lighter, cleaner-cut and fits much better than my old Sea Sherman.

NRS Vista
I wanted something that wasn’t too bulky, with the full back and a couple of front pockets for my camera and sunglasses. I ended up with the NRS Vista, and it has worked out fine. I would have preferred something a little longer in the torso, but I didn’t want to go with a bulky rescue vest. Not a lot of options for dedicated canoeists.


That is the first one I have seen…
with a sensible price.

Most of them are way over priced.

I wish it had a small tab or D ring in each pocket for attaching items

jack L

There is a tab in the left pocket
that I hook my keys to. There is no tab in the right pocket, so I use that for my glasses and camera. There is also a tab up near the right shoulder that you can put a carabiner through. I use that for the strap for my camera, but you could also use it for a whistle. I put the whistle on the zipper, which isn’t the best if you have to crawl back into the boat. No frills so the price is right.

I have 3 PFDs
…and while I think they all fit me quite well, who knows if they’d fit you so there’s not much point in my naming or describing them.

My advice would be to find the largest local paddling store you can and to try on as many PFDs as you possibly can.

If you can’t try them on while actually sitting in a kayak, then at least try them sitting on the floor with your back straight and your legs out in front of you in a “paddling” position.

You’ll probably find some that fit great but don’t have the features you want, and some that have the features you want but don’t fit well. Or, maybe you’ll get lucky!

Kokatat MsFit pockets
Kokatat re-designed the MsFit and now the pockets stick out too far and interfere with my stroke. The Kokatat Bahia-tour has the old style MsFit pockets, but no clip on top to keep it closed while unzipped. I’d say you really have to try one on to be sure of the fit. A few of my friends who switched to the MsFit don’t like the new pockets, either.

a 3rd on the Sea Wolf
Easily the most comfortable PFD I’ve ever owned. Doesn’t have a zipper front, but that allows for a generous sized chest clam shell pocket.

Despite putting it on over your head, it really is quite easy to put on and take off.

It would take a lot
for me to give up on my old lotus. Too many memories and battle scars. As long as it is safe I’m keeping it, and I’m not washing it either.