Author Topic: Kayaking PFDs?  (Read 509 times)

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Offline Conan The Librarian

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Kayaking PFDs?
« on: January 19, 2012, 08:50:51 AM »
Question for the kayakers on the forum:
I'll be doing some kayaking for the first time in a sit-on type kayak. I've got a vest style PFD that I use in my boat, but it seems like it would get kind of uncomfortable. Have you tried using this kind of PFD while kayaking, and are they OK, or are the kayak-specific PFDs pretty much necessary. If they are necessary, can you recommend one that's good and worthy but not terribly expensive? I see some are quite pricey. Thanks!

Offline Hooker

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Re: Kayaking PFDs?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2012, 02:20:47 PM »
Conan  don't fool with solid vest type pfds they suck for any kind of paddling.
Price does not matter, fit comfort and the ability to keep you afloat do.
Look for a pfd that is body fitting with large openings for your arms and very little bulk on your shoulders. Don't buy one you have not tried on, and when you try it on dress like you would when you willing using it.
You should have the same range of movement with the pfd on as you do without it. If it binds or it is not comfy I can tell you from experience you'll be scrambling to put it on when you go in the water, because you wont have it on.
I like the type that has straps or lace up sides when paddling in warm weather, solid sides are hot. That is unless you paddle with my little bride then you can be sure of staying plenty cool just make sure you have your gear lashed down good ;D


Pat
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Offline Brett

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Re: Kayaking PFDs?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2012, 03:32:29 AM »
I wear one very similar to this one in the link.   Like Hooker said you want to look for mesh tops, very large arm holes, adjustable sides.   This one in the link is reasonably priced and Sportsman's Guide is good to deal with.

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/onyx-mesh-classic-sport-vest.aspx?a=619286
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Offline magooch

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Re: Kayaking PFDs?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2012, 05:36:43 AM »
The above posts are right on.  Even if you never paddle a sit in kayak, it is best to have a pfd that is specifically designed for kayaking.  There are several differences from standard PFDs. 
 
The good thing is that there are some very moderately priced kayak-specific vests available.  One brand name that has a very good one for a very reasonable price is Onyx.  I picked one of these up for $29. http://www.onyxoutdoor.com/product/452077/5001GDR/_/Pepin_Paddle_Sports_Vest
 
You might also want to check with NRS and REI and see what they might have on sale.  Another good resource is kayak stores if there are any in your area.  If you are lucky enough to have kayaks stores that rent kayaks and gear, they will sometimes sell their used (livery) stuff at a fraction of new cost and my experience is that the stuff is barely used.  Be absolutely sure that you are able to try any prospective PFD on.  Any good one will be very adjustable and should be properly adjusted to fit right on you.  One additional thing that I think can be very important is to have a strap that can be used to hold the pfd down.  Because of the way paddling PFDs are designed, there is a propensity for them to ride up when you're dumped in the water. 
 
If you plan to do a lot of paddling, do not skimp on the PFD.  Get a really good brand that fits right and that is built robust enough to last.  Unless you get an extremely good buy, it is going to be in the $100 plus area.  Here's an example of a great PFD at a great price:  http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___39289
 
Happy paddling.
Swingem

Offline magooch

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Re: Kayaking PFDs?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2012, 04:32:06 AM »
Earlier this year I found a really good deal on an MTI rescue pfd and it has turned out to be one of the best investments I've ever made.  The price was really unbelievable at $54.95.  The normal retail price was $140 at the store where I bought it, but pfds of this type often retail for up to $300.  It was an Internet special and was supposed to be sold at that price if ordered on line.  I called to see if I could go down to the store and try it on and then get the same price.  I was told that would be fine, so that's what I did.  When it came to actually paying for it, they gave me a price of $79.95.  I said, what happened to the $54.95 price?  They said that that was only for online sales.  I said that I had called ahead and was told I could come to the store and pick it up.  I got the $54.95 price.
If you have ever looked at rescue pfds, you know how pricey they are and you might have some idea about why they are expensive.  The one I got is the real deal and in use it is even better than I hoped it would be.  This thing is so comfortable that I hardly know I'm wearing it and knowing how well this pfd will do its job is very reassuring when I'm out there in big water.
I had one occasion where I tipped one of my sea kayaks on edge a bit too far where I ended up in the water.  The floatation is so effective with the rescue vest that it kept me floating quite high as I just remained seated.  I didn't have my paddle in hand, so I just leaned to the stern of the boat and it popped right up.  The odd part was that I didn't even have to put my head in the water.  Part of that is that the kayak is known to be a nearly self-roller, but I believe the great flotation of the pfd was part of the deal.
Swingem