Whitewater PFD for small, flat-chested woman

Hi there,

I’m having a helluva time finding a pfd that feels like (or looks like it will feel like) a good fit. I’m 5’5", 107 lbs, with a 31" chest. I’m looking for a whitewater-oriented pfd, ideally a rescue pfd, that fits well. I’ve tried the ExtraSport ProCreeker XS/S (32" - 38"), which was too big; the Stohlquist Kahuna S (24" - 33"), which fit very well in the torso but cut right across my boobs (they’re small, but they’re there); and the Stohlquist Betsea S/M (28" - 34"), which felt nicer on my boobs but the bulky foam lower down did not contour my torso well. Stores in my area do not stock a broad selection of pfd’s, and it’s expensive to get a bunch shipped to my house, so I’m asking the broader community for advice.

I’d like the following specifications:

  • Front lash tab, preferably on the shoulder
  • USCG approved
  • On the less bulky side (Betsea felt very bulky)
  • Decent sized pocket(s), especially for beverage can storage :wink:
  • 15+ lbs flotation
  • Accommodates small (but present) boobs and a narrow, bony torso

I’ve been considering the Astral Layla but get the impression that it’s better suited for bustier individuals and am curious if there are any flatter women out there who are happy with it. It can be outfitted with a quick-release belt, which I would like to have someday (after proper swiftwater rescue training). Are there

Thanks for your feedback!

Can;t help you on the female specific questions, but all PFDs made for kayaking should be USCG approved and also any class III PFD has at least 15 lbs of flotation. A class V rescue PFD often has more like 20 lbs of flotation.

I have owned one Stohlquist, an MTI and two Extrasports and found them all to be somewhat stiff and bulky compared to other models I’ve tried/owned/borrowed from Astral, Kokatat and the European brand, Yak. Astrals are very comfortable (I own 3 at the moment), especially those made with their incapsulated kapok, which is what is used in the Layla. I have the Abba model which uses that and find it very comfortable – I do like the features of the Layla, which reminds me of my old Lotus Lola, and would have preferred it but it wasn’t available when I got the Abba.

I have had very good experiences ordering from Outdoorplay (from whom I got two of my PFD’s and a lot of other kayaking gear). They have free shipping and a very easy return and exchange policy. Also very helpful sales associates who might be able to assist you with questions on fit…