women's pfd

-- Last Updated: May-18-06 10:31 PM EST --

Looking for a PFD that doesn't make me look like a hunchback. I'm looking for one that the back is thinner and lower than right across my upper shoulders, maybe one with longer straps in the back. I am "busty" but that's not the problem with finding a PFD that fits. I am very comfortable wearing the vest I have now, (an Extrasport) but when I look at pictures of me, I look deformed. I do touring, usually with a group, sometimes by myself in calm waters. Any suggestions? I don't have many places close by to try them on, and it's hard to tell on-line what the back looks like. Thanks.

I've tried looking in Archives but it seems most of the answers deal with the front fitting.

Let me add in response to one of the answers: The problem is not how I look, but that I "feel" like I have a hunchback. I sense this huge cushion riding on my back, and just do not like the way it feels. I don't paddle to look good, I paddle to enjoy, and would like to have a PFD that feels good as well. Also, I am "busty" and so I have enough lumps to deal with as it is.

Stohlquist BetSEA
My wife just got one of these. This PFD doesn’t crush her “busty” chest because it has sculpted foam “cups” to accommodate her breasts. It is sleek and form fitting. It has ample room in the sides for very free movement.

She tried and Astral 200 and a Lotus Lola, but the Stohlquist fit 1000% better.


The BetSea mentioned previously is a good pfd. Changed my mind when I saw the way that the Astral Bouyancy Wonderjackets fitted to a range of women’s sizes over the past year in my instructional programs. Since then I’ve switched completely over to the Astrals.

In the Astral lineup you might also consider the LDB, all mesh no foam back and Kapok filling in the front makes for a very soft conforming fit.

Drop me a line for info if you need more details or pics.

See you on the water,



Lotus Mildwater
I’m almost pleased with this PFD. The back is all mesh and wearing it is close to comfortable. It doesn’t ride up and slap me in the chin as some have. I’d hate to see what I look like in it though. So far this is the only nice one I’ve found to fit me. If you can get into and be comfortable in one of the other suggested ones - then go for it. I think they are all too small to fit me.

Got my GF an extrasport, and it did the hunchback on her, even though it was XS. She has a really short torso. Took it back and got the the BetSEA at REI (they were onsale for $75), and it fits like a dream in comparison to the extrasport.

How you look?
Why is it important how you look when you’re paddling? I’m not concerned about how a PFD looks, as long as it is comfortable and works properly.

If you aren’t going to swim in it,
or take a lot of dunks into the water, check out an inflatable. I bought an auto inflatable Mustang for my wife, after several other regular pfd models, and she is finally a happy camper, er “happy paddler”. Very comfortable, self-ventilating, to say the least, no back padding for interference, and no bulk whatsover. Happy paddling!

The hunchback…
The “hunchback” is caused by poor fit. The beginner doesn’t realize how much it is riding up in back… doesnt know any different.

It’s not riding up…
The padding is so high on the vest itself. It’s not that it’s riding up. The shoulder straps are solid on my shoulders, and the vest is staying down around my body. I’m simply looking for a vest that the padding on the back is lower. I know what you’re talking about, but that is not my problem.

The Bahia or Bahia Tour …
…by Kokatat might suit you.

Good luck!


Thanks, everyone!!

– Last Updated: May-20-06 2:15 PM EST –

Okay, I have a list to start with. I've already found several that I like the looks of. I'll start trying them on when I can find them. The vest I'm using is my original one that I purchased with my yak last year, and it's been okay, but now that I'm a bit more experienced, I'm willing to put some more money into it. Also, I'll be traveling to some larger cities soon on day trips and will have the chance to look at even more and try them on. I'm hoping it will be like when I chose my yak, I'll know it's the one as soon as I put it on. You know, like love at first glance. But I appreciate all the help and suggestions. Love to all,



P.S. Keep on with the suggestions, though, it may take awhile to look around, and find "the one", and I don't make decisions hastily.