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PFD purchase?

Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:51 pm
by elgordo
well my first of several newbie questions...having just purchased a Kahuna, does anybody have recommendations re: PFDs?..I've heard that it can be different for hardshell and folding boat kayakers...btw I'm 5"10, 175 lbs if that matters...thks

Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:39 pm
by Ron
My only critera for PFD buying - other than that it obviously be CG approved - was mainly that it have a "high back" that would not interfere with the back of my seat, plus lots of pockets to put my radio, survival gear, etc.

Other than that, I think you should get one where you have a full range of motion with your arms/shoulders.


Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 4:44 pm
by Alm
I'm 3" shorter, and couldn't fiind any "normal" PFD with back panel high enough to clear the backrest. May be with 5'10" this will be possible. Otherwise, there is Patagoina Mildwater meshback PFD (formerly Lotus Mildwater), - this one will fit. So far I've been using a canoe FPD with vertical panels, 2 short panels at the back removed and some longer ones shortened (black strap covers the cuts on lower ends of shortened panels). Due to multiple panels this was easy to do - I couldn't do this on a regular single-panel PFD:

It doesn't have pockets (I've added one for VHF), but it does provide a lot of freedom of movement due to loose fit. This particular was Buoy-o-Boy, and they come under various names. Cost me $9 secondhand (regular price is $40, and rental shops sell them in numbers for $25 at the end of season).

Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:00 am
by mje
I like trhe Mildwater, though for open water I take a different PFD.

Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:44 pm
by Ron
Mine is a Stohlquist. Though I forget the model name, it actually has less floatation in the back than in the front. I think the reasoning behind it is because you'd rather be floating face-up than face-down (!), but it also works for those higher seat-backs.

Lots of pockets, too, though I cheated and added NRS' hydration pouch on the back, where I can fit in even more stuff with the water bladder.

Ron <---kayaking packmule

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:43 pm
by tsunamichuck
I like Lotus Designs PFDs. Patagonia also really stands behind their products.

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:52 am
by chrstjrn
I'll add my voice to those advocating the Patagonia Meshback, formerly the Lotus Designs Meshback.

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 2:31 pm
by Alm
I think they've changed the name from Lotus Mildwater to PAtagonia Meshback and then finally to Patagonia Mildwater. NRS was supposed to receive them in June (after the original Lotus was recalled and replaced with this improved model), but then it was postponed until September. Some other stores claim to have it, though.

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:32 am
by chrstjrn
There was a recall on the old Mildwater, so I sent both of mine in. Patagonia promised replacements by April, but then kept postponing. In July I sent them a nastygram pointing out, among other things, that the paddling season was now more than half over. Now I have both of the new Meshbacks, and they are so nice that I feel bad for having sent the nastygram. Functionally, though, they don't seem any different than the old Mildwater.

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 3:09 am
by Alm
Functionally, though, they don't seem any different than the old Mildwater.
Ah... few more cubic inches of foam probably; you wouldn't even notice it. As they said when recalling the old model, "some" of them didn't have enough buoyancy to meet USCG regulations. Minor miscalculation of volume.

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:29 am
by Christov_Tenn
My first pfd was a bright yellow Extrasport I purchased cheaply from the Folbot website (my first folder was a Folbot). It resembles the vest Alex modified except that it is short-waisted. Adjusts easily, is sufficiently bouyant (as I found unexpectedly in Ohio a couple of years ago), but does somewhat restrict my movement - that is, I can't while wearing it wipe my face on the upper sleeve of whatever I'm wearing under the vest. Irks when I'm paddling, must scratch my nose or wish to wipe away sweat, rain, or windblown spray. Also has no pockets.

Second PFD, and the one I've been using consistently since its arrival this summer, is a Lotus, but I don't recall the "model," that I purchased from Tsunami Chuck. Better range of movement, more adjustments possible (shoulders, waist, sides), pockets, and a place to clip on whatever I'd want to clip on to the vest. Its color even matches that of my very used gray-blue BomberGear drysuit. The pockets are handy because the drysuit's shoulder pocket is a hassle to open or close completely when suited and gloved. Also handy for small stuff is using a sprayskirt. Two pockets, each with a clip, one with a lanyarded rescue whistle.

The only trouble I've had is with the adjustment straps at the waist and sides. They're long, and I've occasionally put my hands on them while they rested, unbeknownst to me, on the cockpit rim or coaming when I've been getting out of the boat. With my weight resting upon the straps as they are held down on the rim by my hands, the process of getting out becomes awkwardly complicated. I think I fell over and into the water a couple of times before I learned to think about the straps before placing my hands to get out of the kayak. I should cut them down, but maybe will loan the vest one of my brothers or a friend, or something, so probably won't personalize by custom cutting the straps.