What's your favorite PFD?

I’m looking for a good PFD for sea kayaking and like the Rio Frio from Patagonia. (a bit pricy, but it seems to have the features I want) Anybody tried one?


I hope you get
some replies to your question. I also am looking into a good paddling PFD and am interested to know what people are happy/unhappy with.


Kokatat MS Fit
Also used by a lot of guys, don’t be misled by the name. I just looked at the Pantagonia (Lotus) PFD’s and, for sea kayaking, would suggest that you look at the Rio Serrano in that line. It has similar advantages to the one you mention but also has a lash point built in for a beacon on your left shoulder, something you’ll want. The one you mention lacks that very useful bit because it is for WW.

Or - you may want to look at something like a rescue vest to get a couple more pockets.

Kokatat Profit Tour
with Kokatat accessory ‘rear pocket’ on back and ‘touring tow tether’ (modified quite a bit now). Before that, had a MsFit that fit better but wasn’t as functional overall. Guys that have chests tend to find the MsFit a good fit. Consider getting one with a coupla pockets for your gear, one of which you can put a submersible marine VHF radio in. If I had to get one right now, I’d look very closely at the MsFit Tour and since it’s a Type III and not a Type V ‘rescue’ PFD like the ProFit is, I’d consider figuring out a way to tow from it by adding a rescue belt like the Type V’s have. I like PFD mounted tow systems instead of a separate piece of equipment for towing–each to his own. That way, when I put my PFD on, my tow system is on as well–one less thing to think about and/or forget.

Good luck in your search.

I just tried the Rio Grande
formerly from Lotus , now from Patagonia and I really liked it. So much that I am heading out to buy one today. It has more flotation and it doesn’t feel so bulky in front.

extrasport Squirt from 15yrs ago
oh,you mean today. Kokotat Msfit works, the Profit has those buckle pockets that don’t hold stuff. I’d like to have Extrasport some out with the same thing, basic pull over with waist and side strap adjustment, under $75.

My personal favorite for sea kayaking
is a Kokatat Guide. It is very similar to the MsFit and the ProFit except that it is a rescue vest.

I keep a Camelbak attached to the back of the pfd and I have a Northwater Seatec 17’tow line attached as a quick tow to the rescue belt.

stohlquist, lotus designs, kokatat
I have had all of the above…loved them all…

i currently have:

Lotus Designs Lola for surfing (more rib protection)

Kokatat ReTROfit for touring-sooo comfy

and pool i use a waterstick rodeo vest for a little added floatation…


PFD fit
Kinda like asking what boot one prefers - depends on the foot.

Anyway, try Astral. Phil Curry has made several strides since he revolutionized PFD design with Lotus a decade ago. I like the Tempo 300.

My favorite PFD: the Flotherchoc
I started with in 1973. Supremely flexible and cool. But the Coast Guard didn’t like flotation consisting of many little air filled vinyl envelopes. So when my original Flotherchoc wore out, I couldn’t buy a suitable replacement.

I have a Lotus Sherman, but it and just about all today’s PFDs are annoyingly stiff.

kokatat orbit
Nice & low cut. Not bulky & doesn’t get in the way

Lotus (Patagonia) Rio Grande
I’m on my second Rio Grande. I’m happy with the fit, pockets, etc. When it was time to replace my first one, I saw no reason to switch.

Whitewater style
I’m coming to favor the whitewater style:

lots of arm swing room, no PITA zipper front, comfortable and wellfitting shoulder bands.

Goes on over the head; fastens with 2-3 racheting buckles on each side. I can get in mine w. one side undone so that makes it even quicker to doff and undoff.

Floatation is low on the front of the body with a draining, secure pocket above (which does zip nicely)and non-humpty back floatation. Some are made of a dobby weave which is slightly thicker & at least seems more durable than the thin casings of many PFDs… only time will tell w. mine.

(Some like my Palm are Type V which means they meet USCG regulations for an equivalent to Type III as long as they are worn.) But I wear my PFD always so I’m good to go.

Try one if you get the chance.

astral tempo 200.
i was very satisfied with and loyal to the lotus l’ocean pfd, but i bought an astral tempo 200 on a whim and it have to admit, it’s better–probably one of the best designed and comfortable pieces of kayaking equipment i’ve seen.


I hate them all!

I have to admit though that it is a nice feeling to have one on the back deck when I am three mies out.



Astral Tempo 300
The most comfortable for me. The 300 has more reflectivity and a quick release strap for a tow line. Minus is the funky pockets but has a hand warmer.

I love my Kokotat Sea02

– Last Updated: Feb-22-07 8:43 PM EST –

This is the the semi-inflatable one. I wear it deflated unless I plan on a swim or rescue/roll practice. Deflated it will hold me above the water with its 7.5 lbs of flotation. 2 or 3 quick puffs of air, and it jumps to over 21 lbs of flotation. In warm days, the lack of bulk is really nice and it has plenty of pocket space. I have 2 Lotus Straight Jackets and a Palm PFD as well, but the Sea02 is the one I always reach for.

One detail
I have several and currently use a Kokatat. The one thing I like about my Serratus is velcro on the pockets which makes them easy to open with gloves or mitts on. A lot of manufacturers use that plastic snap lock which I find a neusance to open and impossible with mitts. If I wasn’t lazy I would put velcro on my Kokatat.

I think pockets are a must and the bigger and more the better. At one time the Coast Guard would not certify a vest with pockets as a type III - thinkng that you would carry weighty things. Now they discovered that you carry radios, flares and all kinds of safety stuff and they have entirely changed their outlook - fortunately.

second vote for kokotat msfit
I second the kokatat msfit. But now I wish I had splurged and bought the msfit tour for the extra pockets.

I Am Also
in the market for a new PFD. I have been thinking of the Kokatat MsFIT Tour and then went on the Kokatat website and noticed the “Bahia Tour”. I have not seen this in any retail outlet (it does not look like it is approved in Canada). Has anyone tried this PFD and if so do you, or did you like it?