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Model94
member (19)member
 
08/10/2020 09:12AM  
Looking to get a new canoe paddling PFD. The one i use chafes my upper arms a little. I don't use kayaks so it won't need to accommodate that. There seem to be endless options out there.
 
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Savage Voyageur
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08/10/2020 09:50AM  
Look into those PFD that use a small nitrogen cylinder to inflate. You hit the water and they inflate. Out of the way so you can paddle and fish. Cabellas sells a nice one. Cabelas PFD
 
DanCooke
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08/10/2020 10:04AM  
I have had good experiences with Kokatak PFD. Used it for many days in the BWCA and Trips on the Rio Grande, San Juan and Kazan Rivers. One I will wear!
 
08/10/2020 10:08AM  
You just need to try out some options. Make sure you have them properly fit.
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
08/10/2020 10:55AM  
AmarilloJim: "You just need to try out some options. Make sure you have them properly fit."
What AmarilloJim said.

There is no way that anyone on this board can give you any usable advice other than what works for THEM. Everyone's bodies are shaped differently and you have to try them on yourself.

Every PFD is designed to make a person float. The one that fits you the best will be the one that you want to wear. If you can, go to a store that offers a number of different brands and styles of PFDs, try them on and buy the one that fits best... or go elsewhere until you find one that fits best. If you can't get to a store with lots of options, then you'll have to try ordering online and hope you hit it lucky. (Or you can wear an orange horse collar.) :)
 
jewp
member (25)member
 
08/10/2020 11:04AM  
Jackfish: "There is no way that anyone on this board can give you any usable advice other than what works for THEM. Everyone's bodies are shaped differently and you have to try them on yourself."


I don't agree. It's a life jacket, not a custom suit. I would actually be interested in hearing what products others use and are happy with. I have thought about the inflating ones, but I don't want it to be uncomfortable if it does get inflated accidentally, and I also use it some times if we are tripping during swimming season. Sometimes it's nice to float in one.

If people have a comfortable pfd they are happy with that is dedicated to bwca tripping, I would love to see what others are using.
 
Savage Voyageur
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08/10/2020 11:10AM  
Another thing to tell you is the fit of the PFD. When trying on your new PFD wear any of the clothes and jackets you will be wearing out on the water. It might fit good in the store with a tee shirt on, but tight with extra clothes and a jacket on.
 
08/10/2020 11:51AM  
I started with a NRS Ninja. Smallish, low profile, and doesn't come near your armpits. This is more of a kayaking pfd, but good if you don't use a seat back. However, I found the material on the back sits low and wasn't great leaning back against any seat.




Based on some recs, I switched this year to the NRS Chinook. The back flotation sits much higher closer to your shoulders and sits off of a seat back. The pockets in front are also great for the small odds and ends you want to keep handy. I don't own NRS stock, just like their stuff. Astral is another brand to check out.




Agree that it's tough to just order one...they do fit different body shapes differently. Good luck on the search.
 
08/10/2020 12:26PM  
It is more of a custom suit far as I'm concerned. The OP is looking for a "new canoe paddling PFD", not a toss in the boat to simply conform to the law. May as well invest the $$ for a well fitted PFD of the preferred design for comfortable wear.
The question is hard to answer due to the range of preferred methods of use. Pockets?? some rely on them others like myself care less. Height on torso?? While I'm short and wide I still prefer a high riding PFD for freedom to twist around. Inflatable?? several versions, auto, manual, they use CO2 for inflation (sorry Gary, not nitrogen except in some special models), commonly available CO2 powerlets of varying size and style. Suspender style, vest style, fully inflatable, hybrid with both foam flotation and CO2. Front zipper closures or side, or over the head fitting.
I started with basic vest cheap and functional, went to a Sterns full featured fishing vest with manual inflatable bladders,to accommodate my fly fishing hobby, first truly dedicated paddling PFD is a Kolkatat SeaO2 hybrid manual (wow the price went up $100 since I bought mine) , latest an Astral YTV with minimal features and very light weight. Both dedicated paddling PFD's are very comfortable for long periods of time.
A visit to a dedicated sporting goods shop or better a paddling shop will get you much more centered in your PFD search.

butthead
 
Model94
member (19)member
 
08/10/2020 01:15PM  
thanks Dan.
 
Model94
member (19)member
 
08/10/2020 01:16PM  
Thanks. I use one of those on my salmon boat. I like having a few pockets for things while paddling too though.
 
Model94
member (19)member
 
08/10/2020 01:17PM  
Right. That's essentially what I'm asking for. I don't have a store within reasonable distance to try a bunch on.
 
OCDave
distinguished member(577)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/10/2020 01:36PM  
I am another fan of the NRS line of PFDs. I love my NRS Nija specifically because it is low profile and non-restrictive. I can paddle all day, wear it during portages and never feel encumbered by the PFD. Mine is a older style, pre-zipper. I wear it over synthetic sun shirts but, I have paddled with the Nija over bare skin without irritation.

When the need for Life jackets for a hastily planned trip arose, REI had paltry stock of the Ninja so I selected NRS Ions for my sons. They are equally as comfortable but the floation is spreadout and less bulky (more vest like, less strap like).

From strickly a paddling comfort perspective, these NRS PFDs are ideal. However, there is not a lot of pocket storage on either of these. If keeping a collection of essential ditch kit items on your vest is important, neither of these vests would be attractive.

Good Luck with your search
 
mschi772
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08/10/2020 02:23PM  
The final decision will be up to you, but I do also recognize that our feedback can narrow down what products you try. I have an Astral Bluejacket, and I LOVE it--among my favorite pieces of gear ever. I have also used an Astral YTV, and my girlfriend has one of those, and we both agree that it is also an awesome PFD.
 
Model94
member (19)member
 
08/10/2020 02:27PM  
mschi772: "The final decision will be up to you, but I do also recognize that our feedback can narrow down what products you try. I have an Astral Bluejacket, and I LOVE it--among my favorite pieces of gear ever. I have also used an Astral YTV, and my girlfriend has one of those, and we both agree that it is also an awesome PFD."

bluejacket looks very nice. Assume at that price it also paddles for you ? ;)
 
08/10/2020 02:34PM  
I highly recommend the Stohlquist Fisherman PFD. It is comfortable, but what I like most about it are the two large pockets in front to store things.

Stohlquist Fisherman
 
jewp
member (25)member
 
08/10/2020 03:01PM  
PatrickE: Based on some recs, I switched this year to the NRS Chinook. The back flotation sits much higher closer to your shoulders and sits off of a seat back. The pockets in front are also great for the small odds and ends you want to keep handy. "

I like the looks of that, I will have to check one out. I own a lot of life jackets / pfd's, but nothing purpose built for canoeing. The pockets alone would be worth it.
 
Northwoodsman
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08/10/2020 04:01PM  
I have several styles and types but for paddling a canoe I love my Oynx Impulse - A33. It's automatic inflatable that uses a CO2 cartridge. I honestly forget that I'm wearing it. I get to camp and sometimes I walk around for over an hour before I remember to take it off. It's a little pricey at around $300 however.
 
TipsyPaddler
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/10/2020 05:52PM  
This message has had HTML content edited out of it.
I like the Astral Ronny Fishing PFD. And I don’t like to fish...

Pros:

It has a front zipper so easy to remove at portages. I always wear a hat when paddling, but rarely any other times, and the “take off over the head” variety of pfd were inconvenient. Always picking up my hat off the ground when I knocked it off at a portage.

It has lots of pockets. I carry an Inreach mini, iPhone, small ditch kit, and then depending on season bug dope, head net, chap stick, sun screen, gloves or some combo in the pockets.

The back of the life jacket is thin so I can just throw my pack on over the pfd for short portages. For longer portgages its easy to zip the pfd around a seat or thwart.

The back panel has a nice vent for heat management.

There are six adjustment straps so easy to adjust based on temperature or clothing bulkiness for a good fit.

Cons:

No handwarmer pockets. But if you are wearing it your hands are full of paddle, right?

The flotation panels and pockets put all the bulk in your belly/chest area. I don’t mind it but those who suffer from Dunlap’s Disease or other weight challenges might find it too bulky in the front.

With that front bulkiness the pocket flaps can catch on portage pack straps and such. I had to replace a pocket clasp that I suspect popped off while getting geared up for a portage. Easy fix but needed doing after last season’s last trip.

I loved mine so much I bought a women’s version for Mrs. Tipsy. She wasn’t as excited as I was .
 
justpaddlin
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08/11/2020 11:06AM  
I'm happy with my Astral V8, it's the first PFD that I've worn consistently. It's virtues are that it is lightweight and well-ventilated. The pockets are NOT big and some folks complain about that but I don't care because I don't want to carry a lot of stuff in/on my PFD.

I don't know if you've tried adjusting your current PFD but that might help. Mine got pretty far out of adjustment after a few years of loosening it for colder weather and then tightening it up again for summer.
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
08/11/2020 03:04PM  
A timely article about PFDs in Paddling magazine:

Best PFDs for Canoeing in 2020

One still needs to try on the PFDs to see which one fits the best, but here are some names - some of which have been listed above.
 
IndyCanoe
distinguished member (108)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/12/2020 07:57AM  
Agree with others try several on and see what you like. I have used the NRS Chinook for several years now. I find it to be very comfortable and I like having the pockets.

I ended up with the Chinook because i bought a MTI brand from the REI clearance with 25% off. Once it arrived i hated the fit and returned it. While at REI returning the previous PFD i tried on several other brands they had in-stock and found i liked the fit of the Chinook. It was more expensive but far more comfortable. My wife on the other hand really liked the similar MTI PFD that we picked up for her at the same time.

I have often considered picking up an inflatable. I just have never been that uncomfortable to spend the money on a new PFD. My only concern for a back country trip is what to do if i inflate it early in a trip. I have watched a few videos and it doesn't appear that difficult to re-pack them after inflating, just make sure to pack a few extra refills for a trip. If i ever pick one up I would try to inflate and re-pack before taking on a trip.
 
08/12/2020 08:48AM  
Inflatables come with blow up inflation tubes to use if you choose not to inflate with CO2. When I used inflatables I did try them out regularly checking for function, so I went thru many inflation supplies. I bought inexpensive CO2 powerlets from my local hardware, and kept a supply of green inflator indication buttons on hand.

It is quite the sensation diving to 10 feet and the pulling the inflator!

USCG has specific rules for inflatables, one is if the indicator is not fully in place the PFD must be inflated to be considered a viable PFD, another is it must be worn as the outermost layer over any clothes or jackets.

butthead

PS; The photo is of my Kolkatat SeaO2, hybrid that qualifies as a foam floatation PFD with additional CO2 inflation. As such uses a 16 gram powerlet vs the more common 24 or 33gram. bh
 
08/12/2020 09:53AM  
I really like my NRS Chinook OS Fishing PFD.

It is lightweight, very well made, mesh lower back for great ventilation and high back design for comfort.

I am an avid fisherman and the Chinook has lots of pockets for tackle and room for other items.

It is listed as a fishing PFD but it would function well just as a paddling pfd.

NRS Chinook OS Fishing PFD
 
GickFirk22
distinguished member (173)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/12/2020 10:54AM  
I'll also sing the praises of my NRS Chinook. I can wear it all day, love the pockets and the fit is excellent. Works with my kayak and my canoe!
 
c4e
 
08/14/2020 04:44PM  
Hi, all.

Sorry if this is a weird reply, since it's my first post here (not familiar with this forum format), but since it's a thread on PFDs, I do have a few questions of my own. Apologies for hijacking, if any.

If I wanted to do solo open water canoeing, like in Saganaga Lake (and maybe to Quetico in the future), would a type I PFD be best in case something bad happened in a larger lake, or would a type III be adequate enough? Would it be worth buying my own PFD as a better alternative to the typical type II PFDs that are usually provided by rentals/outfitters (I'm finding myself going on more and more canoe/kayaking trips, but currently am not in a position to own a canoe -- don't have storage or means of transporting a canoe, but hope it'll be a thing in the future).

Thanks in advance.
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member (370)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/14/2020 07:34PM  
c4e: "Hi, all.


Sorry if this is a weird reply, since it's my first post here (not familiar with this forum format), but since it's a thread on PFDs, I do have a few questions of my own. Apologies for hijacking, if any.


If I wanted to do solo open water canoeing, like in Saganaga Lake (and maybe to Quetico in the future), would a type I PFD be best in case something bad happened in a larger lake, or would a type III be adequate enough? Would it be worth buying my own PFD as a better alternative to the typical type II PFDs that are usually provided by rentals/outfitters (I'm finding myself going on more and more canoe/kayaking trips, but currently am not in a position to own a canoe -- don't have storage or means of transporting a canoe, but hope it'll be a thing in the future).


Thanks in advance. "


I think you want a Type III because they are the most comfortable so they don't interfere with your paddling and you're most likely to actually wear it. You can see that the whole discussion above is mostly around comfort. I don't think you need a Type I unless you have some reason (like a medical condition) to expect that you will lose consciousness and require a PFD that helps make sure you'll float face up. I don't remember ever hearing about a canoeing tragedy attributed to someone wearing the wrong type of PFD but tragedies from wearing no PFD are common.
 
OCDave
distinguished member(577)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/14/2020 08:28PM  
c4e: "...
...? Would it be worth buying my own PFD ...
... "


Absolutely buy your own PFD. If you have a little extra cash, consider buying your own paddle as well. Both items will be easily stored and transported. Personalizing both these items will enhance all your future trips.
 
TechnoScout
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08/15/2020 05:59AM  
GickFirk22: "I'll also sing the praises of my NRS Chinook. I can wear it all day, love the pockets and the fit is excellent. Works with my kayak and my canoe!"

Two thumbs up for Chinook. I have had one for about four years (two BWCA trips).
 
snakecharmer
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08/15/2020 08:28AM  
I've got a KOKATAT Bahia Tour PFD. Light weight and a very comfortable fit for me with the right number of gear pockets.
 
chessie
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08/15/2020 11:16AM  
Even though you don't kayak, vests designed for kayaking TEND to have arm openings that won't chafe -- and they tend to be comfortable. They are short cut, which really has no downside -- but for this: you might find some that feel a little bulky -- there is less "stuff" -or stuffing spread out over a larger profile vest, so what is there has more depth, if that makes sense. Your comfort is key, once I found a comfortable vest, I always wear it. A pocket or 2 for survival stuff is a bonus (compass, whistle, etc.).
 
08/15/2020 01:00PM  
"Assume at that price it also paddles for you ?"
Not a very good way of considering a piece of safety gear. Intended to keep you floating, fit, comfort, usability are much more important. No you do not have to spend that much, but if you wear it more often the benefits/cost go up exponentially.

butthead
 
HowardSprague
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08/15/2020 05:32PM  
I've had a LL Bean Discovery (i think that's what it's called) for a pretty long time and am very happy and comfortable in it. (Can't get a link at the moment, as I'm on my dad's pc in Germany and it seems to default to Euros and maybe just the models they sell here. But you can always go to one of their stores if you have one nearby and try it on.)
 
Abbey
distinguished member (274)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/16/2020 12:26AM  
Aldy1: "I highly recommend the Stohlquist Fisherman PFD. It is comfortable, but what I like most about it are the two large pockets in front to store things.


Stohlquist Fisherman "


+1
I was slightly inclined to this one for the pockets, but I tried on every PFD at REI a few years ago when they were well stocked in the spring, and this was the winner.
 
08/17/2020 05:49PM  
I have a Bass Pro fisherman. Mesh upper and the flotation is concentrated around the midsection & back. It does tend to ride up a little, or I occasionally tug it back down. I like it's bouyancy and multitude of pockets, and how the main pocket fits my phone in a waterproof case (pixel 3xl).
 
TheOnion
senior member (74)senior membersenior member
 
08/18/2020 10:33AM  
Stolquist makes some nice PFDs. They are not cheap but they are made to last and have great design.
 
Tedemybes
 
08/18/2020 12:23PM  
Model94: "Looking to get a new canoe paddling PFD. The one i use chafes my upper arms a little. I don't use kayaks so it won't need to accommodate that. There seem to be endless options out there. "

I have a Ninja and the Mocke. Both are efficient and comfortable.
For long periods on the water I go with the Mocke. I just feel it is a little less restricting around the mid-section.
 
mmrocker13
senior member (78)senior membersenior member
 
08/26/2020 12:33PM  
After finally deciding the old, giant PFD wasn't cutting it (and made me never want to wear it), I got the NRS Ninja two years ago. https://www.nrs.com/product/40013.04/nrs-ninja-pfd

Yes, a bit pricier from what mu husband uses (he buys the cheap ones at Cabelas) at $130...but worth every penny. It is unobtrusive, the front pocket is perfect for my phone, and I even like the wee handwarmer pockets. It is an "over the head" model, which at first I had reservations about (esp for portaging, taking it on and off), but it is super easy. It's also nice if I want to paddle and work on my tan :D

My husband called it the "most well-researched life jacket" on the planet...but that's fine by me. It was well worth it and I have no issues wearing it, even on the longest days on the water.

 
Model94
member (19)member
 
08/30/2020 12:24PM  
butthead: ""Assume at that price it also paddles for you ?"
Not a very good way of considering a piece of safety gear. Intended to keep you floating, fit, comfort, usability are much more important. No you do not have to spend that much, but if you wear it more often the benefits/cost go up exponentially.


butthead"


It was a little tongue in cheek. I actually got one. 25% off at REI + 20% holiday sale.
 
ssava
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
09/09/2020 11:16AM  
jewp: "Jackfish: "There is no way that anyone on this board can give you any usable advice other than what works for THEM. Everyone's bodies are shaped differently and you have to try them on yourself."



I don't agree. It's a life jacket, not a custom suit. I would actually be interested in hearing what products others use and are happy with. I have thought about the inflating ones, but I don't want it to be uncomfortable if it does get inflated accidentally, and I also use it some times if we are tripping during swimming season. Sometimes it's nice to float in one.


If people have a comfortable pfd they are happy with that is dedicated to bwca tripping, I would love to see what others are using. "


I went from the cheapest PFD, an MTI, when I bought my canoe. I would never wear it, just keep it in the boat. Later on in bad weather, decided that that wasn't a good idea for obvious reasons.

Picked up a NRS Chinook mostly bcause it was on sale at REI. Perfect! All the pcokets are extremely useful and beacuse I installed seat backs, the rear floation of the PFD rests above the top of the seat back.
 
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