Hi, currently I only use wake/waterski style PFDs but would like a less bulky option with a women’s specific fit so I can use it more comfortably on my Hobie Mirage Pedal Kayak. I don’t care about pockets as it will be used at a lake house where I’m just out for short rides and then back home (I wouldn’t rule something out because it has pockets - it’s just that large pockets are not a requirement).
Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere within 2 hours I can try these on so am trying to narrow it down to maybe 2-3 options I could order online and decide which to keep. My reading has lead me to Astral and Stohlquist but I’m not sure which models would be best for my body type. Some reviews say Astral runs large, and while I’ve seen some love for Stohlquist I’ve seen a Gear Lab review stating the Flo (based on Cruiser) is not women friendly at all.
I’m petite overall - 5’2", very short torso even for my height, small waist and ribcage, narrow shoulders - but large busted (30F). Because I’m so petite overall, my chest is still only 35" so looking at XS/S sizes. Any help would be much appreciated.
So I’m about your height but, as a guy, have a longer torso. Nevertheless, I really like using kitesurfing Impact (floatation) vest because these are designed to sit higher up on the torso to accommodate the waist harness that are used in kite surfing. Also has big arm openings for vigorous padding.
The impact meets CE (European) regs but are not USCG approved. But, I have had to swim through breaking surf with the vest and it works fine with my smaller frame and weight.
It sounds like my wife has similar fit issues to you, she found every PFD she tried just didn’t fit her for several different reasons, the biggest being how they would ride up around her chin while sitting in the boat due to her short torso and bust size.
Within the last month she purchased a Stohlquit Cruise, which is designed for women with a shorter torso. She has found this to be the most comfortable fitting PFD she has ever worn, and has nice cut-out for the bust. It does not ride up on her when seated in her kayak and has many adjustments to help tailor the fit. I know she would say that she would recommend this PFD to anyone with a short torso.
Cruiser Life Jacket (PFD) | Recreational Life Jacket - Stohlquist WaterWare
An inflatable PFD might also be an option.
Similar sizing and the Stohlquist Cruiser fits great.