Does anyone use a Type II PFD? Most paddling PFDs are Type III, but the descriptions make it sound like the minimum flotation level in Type II would be enough to keep me afloat without needing to tread water. I have used kids’ PFDs with less flotation and they were adequate, at least in calm water. It is legal to use Type II and there are some models designed for freedom of motion and good ventilation.

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Well, you could but why?

Wouldn’t a Type II impede your paddling stroke much more than a Type III which distributes the flotation more all around your body?

Not to mention a scramble reentry. Instant size 50 F gets in the way

To Pikabike plus anyone else who knows that I have paddled with her… my comment was completely off the rails and wrong. I got her confused with someone else per my comment below.

FWIW I ended up trying to roll with a type 2 PFD at some point. It was one of those odd moments where I had the boat but not my regular PFD so I grabbed a type 2 that was around. Perhaps it was a particularly ill-fitting type II pfd. But I found it wanted to move around more than I liked during the motion of rolling.

Celia, here is MY answer to your inexplicably snarky comment: I got my roll on both sides, including “in conditions”, roughly ten years ago and have kept practicing ever since. Rolling is not a factor. I rolled with and without PFD, with and without wetsuits or drysuits.

However, because I will continue to wear neoprene for cold water anyway, remounting in cold water is also not going to vamoose. I won’t be paddling in really cold water in the first place; reservoirs tend to get CLOSED TO BOATING here by the time that happens.

Wrapping around the torso or not doesn’t solely determine freedom of movement. I’ve used both kinds in Type III and have found a kids’ PFD without side foams to be best for my FOM. But that is not strictly legal even though it still floats me (there are different flotation levels even in kid sizes, and mine is an older-kid one).

Sounds like none of you has paddled in a Type II recently. I did and am considering buying one because in all these years of sea kayaking, I have never found a PFD I really liked except the kids’ one. There are Type II PFDs designed for use when paddling surf skis, where stroke technique, FOM, and ventilation is a big, big deal.

Pikabike, have you looked at the Mocke Racer PFD? Highly recommended by a local surfski company, TC Surfski.

Rookie, that is one of the three I have looked at online. Nowhere around to check one out in person. But you got the gist of where I’m headed.

Meanwhile, or rather, starting in spring when I can paddle again! I’ll just wear what I already have. With no deck at all and a better sitting position, the FOM is already better.

Have you visited TC Surfski? I’ve read some of his blogs and like them.

Yes, he has some very good blogs.

I plan to drive over this summer to take a lesson with Nick as I really enjoyed the one sufski I did paddle on Lake Huron. That was my first year of paddling so I was a complete klutz but sure appreciated a boat that kept me upright in some crazy conditions towards the end of the paddle.

If I could find a decently priced used ski, I’d use it for paddling here at home and sell my Fathom LV.

Yeah, I really loved my short taste of chasing small wind waves on a ski! They just keep coming, one after another, and it accelerates so readily. That’s what sold me on it; paddling it in flat water was fine but it really shone with a little wind. And we get wind waves here, unlike suitable shore breaks.

I’ve been studying the orientation and distances of reservoirs’ longest axes and trying to find if the orientations match typical prevailing winds in those locations. The wind does some strange things in the canyons, not only funneling down but instead sometimes hopping across the rims without being noticeable at water level, or splitting/diverting around a mountain. I am familiar with its behavior at the place I paddle most frequently but want to learn more about other venues in the area.

You probably already know this, but at least two manufacturers offer plastic skis, which cost half what the composites do.

I’d like to award pikabike 3 points for using the word “vamoose” in a sentence.


MANY apologies. Of course I know you have a roll. I honestly got you mixed up with someone else on the Board this morning. I was here between one cup of coffee and getting stuff done for an elder’s annual recert for Medicaid. Obviously the coffee was inadequate against the stickiness of the recert.

Sorry, will edit the above.

Personally I like “sticky rolls” with all that pecans, sugar, cinammon and butter. Mmmmmm…

My pfd I like the new touring type III with the mesh back. Cool/cold as I go in my hydro skins is no problem treading water. I need weights to surface dive. The neoprene and fat float real good without the pfd. I start floating back up in a surface dive as soon as my feet are in the water. My lifeguard days are long gone.

My only type II are carried in the fishing boat. Now a type ? ( IV or V) Inflateble will provide the self righting.

The real question would be, Why does the OP think a Type II would help one tread water?

Apology gladly accepted! I’ve done some weird things when not fully awake, so I get it.

Overstreet, I never said any such thing. I can tread water, learned at a very young age, and that is something you really never forget how to do.

I mentioned treading only because I saw a description of Type II that said a wearer might need to tread water, unlike with a Type III. All adult PFDs are meant to float someone much heavier than I am, so I am not worried about the Type II’s flotation.

What I wonder is how you jumped to the false conclusion of anyone thinking a PFD helps treading water.

Glad to hear you’re enjoying the ski! the Mocke is a very popular vest around my area. I have a NRS Ninja that has very good freedom of rotation, might be worth checking out. Also the Vaikobi is common on ski’s. All good options to look into.

Whoa there, I just got the ski in the dead of winter. It is hanging up inside and won’t be going on its baptismal outing for many weeks, unfortunately.

I did get to do my own baptism on surf ski on its ultralightweight sibling when I was in Costa Mesa a few months ago. Got hooked during the second lesson!

The Vaikobi is the one that most interests me at this point.

Hope you are having a good paddling winter.

" …sound like the minimum flotation level in Type II would be enough to keep me afloat without needing to tread water…"


You must have misunderstood from the get go.

At Pikabike’s size, and mine as well with a smidge more help from a little air in the dry suit these days, there is NO need to tread water at all using a normal kayaking PFD with 16 to 18 pounds of flotation. It is a normal for a smaller person to notice that as a difference between the typical adult PFD and something with less flotation.

Mentioning it has zero to do with whether that person needs assistance to tread water.

At a larger guy’s size, the same flotation doesn’t float you enough, likely still need to tread water. So this is not a difference a larger guy would notice between PFD types.

FWIW, even without a PFD or anything, at my current somewhat heavier weight, all I need to do to float is to get some air into my upper lung and stick my head back. No help whatsoever needed from legs or arms. Combo of diff between women and smaller people to boot changes a lot.

Thanks, Celia. Your point about a heavier person possibly needing to tread water using a lower-flotation-rating PFD while a lighter person does not, when a higher-flotation-level floats almost all adults, gets at the heart of my comment about my not needing the higher flotation.

A thick full wetsuit provides some flotation, too, but it is not enough for me to forego treading water a little. A drysuit with air added to it, OTOH, can be enough to float me. A burped one does not.

Withdrawing from this non helpful conversation. Yes I have paddled in a type II and did not like it. I could not enter the kayak using a scramble. ( we were snorkeling). having those extra inches of chest did not help at all. Heavier people sometimes float high. I spent an hour in the water and needed not to tread at all nor wear a PFD ( in a heated pool of course)
This is one of those coversations best shared between people that know each other.