What’s your PFD?

Looking for a new PFD for rec and tour kayaking. What’s yours, and what should I consider?
I’m 6’1”, 215.

I’m partial to Astral’s designs and own 4 of their models, all of which I use. For hot weather and overall comfort, you can’t beat the V8 with its ventilated panels and half mesh back. I also like the encapsulated kapok models (the Abba for women and the Norge for men) for a full coverage PFD that is soft and flexible. Also have a Camano (OK, but not as comfy as the newer Abba – but it is warmer for cool weather paddling) and a slimmer profile YTV that I use with my low volume Greenland style kayak and for white water.

For general touring, especially if you live in the South and/or are often out in hot weather, the Astral V8 is a great choice and often on sale. For more moderate weather, any of those other 3 models would be fine. Each fits slightly differently so if you can find a way to try them on that would be preferable to mail order.

X’s 2 on the Astral - both mine and my wife’s

Also Astral an older rescue model with a quick release strap that held the towing kit.

MTI inflatable
Kokatat Orbit Tour
Kokatat Misfit Tour

What should you consider? Fit and your personal, on your body, carriage needs/requirements.

Another vote for the Astral’s V8, especially in a hot climate like Florida.

Another V8.

6’ and 215 lbs here. Kokatat Misfit Tour.

Second what @semdoug said - fit is personal. Take our suggestions as just suggestions, but go to a shop and try on the ones you are considering to make sure they fit you. You want it so comfortabe you forget you have it on, otherwise you won’t want to wear it.

Astral Green Jacket

I like the NRS C-Vest: https://www.nrs.com/product/40028.02/nrs-cvest-mesh-back-pfd

My wife likes her Stohlquist Cruiser: https://www.stohlquist.com/life-jackets/recreational-pfds/cruiser.html

I’m a canoe person and I’ve got an Astral V8 that works well for me.

Wife wears NRS ( with lots of flotation) she’s a poor swimmer.
I wear a Lotus on occasion, More likely to wear MTI (eddy model) vest I love. Don’t remember how or where I got it?
Have a Stholquist rescue pfd I used whitewater canoeing, Fire Dept. search & rescue team. and in Swiftwater Rescue classes.
Have Kokatat vest that I think was thrown in with some canoe deal. Never worn.


Kokatat Misfit Tour, sold to me by one of the designers, Leon at Body Boat Blade on Orcas Island…

Astral YTV.

Kokatat Outfit Tour. I like pockets.

I didn’t realize this when I got it, but having both buckles and a zipper in the front is handy. When hot, you just undo the zipper and get some relief. It’s still very secure due to the two buckles still attached. Cool down and do the zipper back up to keep some heat in.

I don’t suspect it’s the coolest (temperature) on the market. Mine is pretty faded and I’ve been considering replacing it for a little while now. Not sure with what, but I’m looking into some of the suggestions here.

Must have pockets. Built in tow/rescue belt would be nice, or at least loops that keep one attached to the PFD.

Astral Blue jacket here (and the same for my wife). Bought for the clamshell pocket. I can get a radio, a Spot, & a camera in the pocket. Very comfortable.

One drawback to the V8 (though I still love it) is lousy pockets. They have improved them a bit since I bought mine 8 years ago but they are still pretty skimpy. I tend to wear the Astral Abba when I am on a longer trip or more challenging waters where I want more stuff readily accessible in pockets.

If you see recommendations from folks on Lotus PFD’s. that brand is no longer available but the same guys that designed Lotus are now Astral. I have a vintage Lotus that I got with my first touring kayak in 2002 and I like it also, but it is a pullover design with solid sides so it is hot in warm weather.

Yep, and you can see the similarities in some Lotus and Astral models.

I’m a fan of the Kokatat MsFit Tour. Yeah, it’s a women’s vest. I prefer women’s vests as they are generally shorter in length. The MsFit Tour has very intelligent pockets.

I had a Maximus Centurion for a couple of years. Liked the way it moved but pockets weren’t great and it proved to be too long for my liking. Sold it.

Just bought a Kokatat Neptune for day paddling. It is a shorter vest with OK pockets for what I’ll use it for. I’ll use my MsFit for longer trips.


Astral Sea Wolf, discontinued but replaced by the Blue. Easily the most comfortable jacket I’ve ever worn.