What's wrong with my PFD?

I cinched my PFD down until it’s hard to breathe and the chest floats still ride up and interfere during rescues.

Any ideas?

Is it the PFD (it’s an MTI Velocity)?

How big is your belly?
That brand is notorious for riding up on beer bellies. Look at Astral brand PFDs and try one on and have someone pull up on it before you buy it.

Body shape? Strap system?
On my PFD that has 3 horizontal straps instead of a vertical zipper, if I cinch down the bottom strap to waist circumference, it cannot ride up past the bigger rib cage and chest.

I haven’t yet seen a PFD that lacked a waist adjustment, so maybe all you need to cinch down tight is that lowest part. But that assumes your waist is smaller than everything above it.

Without seeing how it fits on you, it’s hard to tell what’s going on. Maybe the PFD is too short for you in the first place.

Are you referring to . . .
my Liquid-Grain-Storage-Facility.

The answer is yes, I possess a buffet muscle.

I thought that may be a factor.


To be clear. . .
(and self deprecating) I cinch my lowest band (waist band) tightly below my gut. While I sport what may be called a 60 y/o’s beer gut I don’t think it’s anomalous (I know that’s what they all say), I can still see my shoes.

When I had the waist band cinched down uncomfortably tight I still had an issue with the chest floats rising above my face.

Tightening the remaining (two) straps did impair my breathing but it did not keep my chest floats from rising above my face.

Don’t beat up on yourself
PFD’s are all cut differently. For one I sure with there was a test swimming pool at the store.

It is not you . It is the PFD. It is simply not the right cut for you. You can snug it up all you want and have someone yank on ths straps in the store and think it’s OK, but sometimes in the water things are very different.

I’ll probably buy my replacement . . .
at Rutabaga.

They do have a test pond out back.

Maybe I’ll just gear up and ask if I can jump in the pond.

Having had Some Swims…

– Last Updated: May-14-12 7:22 PM EST –

...with my PFD seemingly cinched down well, I've had that issue before. You can buy crotch straps for some, but I use a heavy duty climbing carabiner clipped to my pants/shorts belt or to a belt loop then to the PFD waist strap. Might give 'ya a "Wedgie," but it doesn't ride up when you swim.

Its the beer gut.
I know. Trust me.

If you are paddling flat water consider a manual inflatable yoke type pfd. Extremely comfortable. Requires action to inflate. Not for everyone. Not for white water for sure.


Mother Nature
has never cared about being politically correct. She just tells it like it is.


Don’t fret - your built for comfort

I cured the same problem by
getting a jacket (Koko) with adj shoulder straps that I could lengthen to the max and get the low waist strap well down under my gut. Can actually leave the upper straps looser without ride up on self-rescues. Just thoughts, R

Arm openings
Any PFD will ride up. Two things keep it in place: the tightness and the underarm hole opening. Big people buy big PFDs and they have large arm cutouts. The way some PFDs get around that is by having an adjustment strap high on the chest that tightens below the arm opening. Some even have three there. That prevents it from riding up too high. My Kokatat has three straps. One on the waist and two that are in the underarm section so you can snug those up so it won’t ride up (too much).

Canoeists can add crotch straps, though
I understand that an anal compulsive USCG man might object to anything sewn on.

For kayakers, the ultimate solution would be sewing on short clip straps connecting the PFD to the spray skirt, and on the inside of the skirt, clips attaching to your shorts or pants. No one has done this, but it is the solution.

another brand
I second the suggestion to try an Astral. I’ve had a similar ride up problem with MTi, Stohquist and even a Lotus model. My problem is I am 5’ 5" but shortwaisted so effectively I am proportionately 5’ 10" from the waist down and 5’ from the waist up. In an MTI vest I am nearly suffocated from the foam blocks riding up to my chin in a kayak. I love the Astral V-8 for its low front vee-neck, slim flexible foam and mesh back as well as lower buckles that let me snug the bottom up. It’s also ventilated for comfort and never feels too hot. Only problem is it has the crappiest pockets of any PFD I’ve ever owned. They have some other models that might have the same good fit and better pockets.

Lead Singer of The Band