Looking for a new PFD

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by pawsplus, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I'm such a girl--my old one won't match the new boat. :oops: So I'm thinking about a new one.

    I also have issues with the one I have. It zips up the front, and it sometimes UNzips when I'm cowboy scrambling back on my boat. In addition, the zip pockets unzip at the same time (nearly lost my car keys to the lake once, which really freaked me out!). I also don't like that it has foam up around the back of my shoulders. I've seen lots of PFDs that do not, and I find that it gets in my way on back deck rolls.

    So . . . what's a good one? CAVEAT: It has to come in orange and black preferably. And it has to have pockets. I like this one--is it good?

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PZ2IY38/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I17D6DBJZDINHT&colid=27NVW56SPHYG6

    I'm not sure I need a special one for women. I wear a sports bra when paddling that smushes me down sufficiently for that not to really be an issue.
     
  2. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    The one you show seems to only have the one pocket. I like the MsFit (even though it is women specific, lots of guys use them). Front zip (which I like and have never had an issue with unzipping) and several pockets for safety gear- mini flares, space bag/blanket, signal mirror, radio, etc. All the pockets have little rings inside for clipping stuff to.
    https://kokatat.com/product/msfit-tour-pfd-lvumft
     
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  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Paws,

    The fit is critical. Might take a couple rounds of mail order to get it right. To avoid riding up, it needs to cinch up tightly without restricting your breathing, just below the breasts (applies equally to men ... not usually as easy to fit ;) ). [Edit] Many like the Kokatat MsFit. Guys included. What Kayak Jim said, as I wrote.
     
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  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I use a MsFit (Tour) PFD as well. So does my wife. So do quite a few of my paddling friends. It's one of the more common PFDs I see on instructors as well.
    It has two buckles at the front (top and bottom of zipper, roughly) so the zipper can be open and the PFD is still 100% functional. I like the fit and the multiple pockets, especially the pocket inside the main zipper where I keep the PLB and whistle. The outside pockets hold the VHF, energy bars & gels, candies, neo balaclava, multitool, etc..
    My (Level Six) drysuits and drypants have 'key pockets' inside zippered pockets; I keep my keys there. If I ever get a new car with an 'electronic key', I guess it will need to go in the drybag below decks.

    Getting a good fit is critical - something that feels a bit 'tight' at first will probably be about right. My first MsFit (sized according to the manufacturer guidelines) was too big and I had to get a smaller one. You don't want it up around your ears when you are swimming. Like most kayak gear (boats, paddles, etc) a lot of PFDs seem intended for strapping 6-footers, so you'll probably have to try a few.
     
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  5. a_c

    a_c Paddler

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    I am always surprised by the lack of innovation in PFDs. It seems like they stopped evolving around....oh, 1990 or so. One big block of closed cell foam front and back, a few straps, a pocket or two - and voila!

    My primary is a Kokatat Ronin, but it's a bit bulky and lacks a decent front pocket for a VHF (well, it has one but it's a tight fit, and sideways). I also have a MsFit, which I like, and a Lotus Design - probably the most comfortable of the three.

    If I bought one today I'd definitely go with this one, from MEC: https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5034-115/Fulcrum-Guide-PFD

    The foam pieces are cut laterally, across the breast (two-thirds up), and with two horizontal cuts, down the sides, making it much more flexible (form fitting) than anything else on the market, IMO.

    As with anything, your results may vary. Body size/shape dictates all.

    Good luck!
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Like that Fulcrum, by the looks and the description, also. Definitely well designed, with a very low snagging potential. Exterior pockets can really get in the way during rescues.

    Paws, that one may be a good one for you. Fully adjustable to fine tune it for slimmer folks, looks like. Have not had one in my hands, however.
     
  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Lotus were great PFDs - my wife's finally 'faded away' and she hasn't found another as comfortable.
    An all-too-common story - great product and company, bought out by a big corporation and then shut down.
     
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  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    The Fulcrum looks like what I want! Love the pockets, and it's the right color! :) THANKS!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  9. a_c

    a_c Paddler

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    Glad to help.

    Reread my description, looks like I got my vertical and horizontal mixed up :confused:, but you get the point - it's a damn comfy PFD.

    One thing I heard - not sure if it was an ongoing issue - was that prolonged UV exposure made the colour fade out rather quickly. Maybe just a poor run of material from the factory?
     
  10. GJH

    GJH Paddler

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    I’ve owned a few... MsFit, MsFit Guide, Centurion, and Astral GreenJacket. The MsFit and MsFit Guide (tow belt) have lots of storage, but aren’t as form fitting and don’t move with you as much. (Not to say that they get in the way) The Centurion and GreenJacket are both very comfortable and don’t restrict movement or float up. The Centurion has enough space and lash tabs for my essentials, knife and vhf, but is bulkier in the upper chest and I can get hung up on re-entry if I am low on energy. The GreenJacket has a lower smoother section in the upper chest to avoid hang-ups, but I haven’t found a good location for the vhf.
     
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  11. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    You might want to check with MEC as to whether the Fulcrum has US certification as a PFD. MEC is a Canadian company, so maybe not...
     
  12. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    If Canada thinks it's good enough, it's good enough for me. It's not as if anyone checks these things. :)
     
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  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Agree this is a nonissue.
     
  14. designer

    designer Paddler

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    I use a Misfit on the ocean. There's pocket for VHF radio and other items (paddle leash, neoprene hat, maybe batteries in waterproof bag, etc.) Most all the pockets have a tether you can attach to keys/radio etc. though you might want to put an extension on them.

    One thing about Canada regulation - I believe they want to you to carry a tow line and I believe the length is 50 ft. I mention that because some tows come in 35 foot length. My bag has a clip on the inside and because 30 ft is a little more useful, I put a loop in the line at that distance and attached it to the clip. So I have 50 ft if I need it but normally it pulls out to 30 ft.

    When would you need one ... once, in the Deer Group, I was exploring a narrow inlet to see if there was a camping/stopping beach at the end. At some point, the surf in became stronger than anticipated. And the sides were so narrow I couldn't back paddle, and they were a little sharp so it wasn't easy to push back with my hands.

    If either of the two people I was paddling with had their tow lines, one person could have stayed "outside" with a line to the other. He could have paddled in and tossed me his line (easier for him to toss forward than me to toss backward) and then getting pulled out would have been easy. But they had no training and no interest in training in such situation. So they just sat there and watched me struggle to work my way out.

    Another friend likes to multi-purpose things (I'm a redundancy believer) and showed me how he used his tow line as a clothes line for his gear. Which was great until we went out for a day paddle and his tow line was engaged in its other clothes line purpose. An extra 5o ft of 3mm utility cord for camp weights hardly anything.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
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  15. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    A bit off-topic, so I'll keep my replies brief for a change! :)
    The tow line is good for tying up the boat(s) at night, and it's unlikely to be left behind.
    For whitewater and canoeing, and sailing, I carried a throw bag. I'm not sure I could throw a 'belly pack' tow bag; will the 'sharp end' carry far if thrown?
     
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  16. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    John, I practiced with mine, and they suck. A decent WW throw bag is 100 times better.

    In lieu, I attached a small, weighted, football shaped float (sans the weight, aka "net float" to the gill net crowd), to the end of some polypropylene line (kind that floats), and that works well, but is so bulky it has to go in its own bag, back deck. Not a good arrangement, but it throws like a mofo.
     
  17. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Yeah, those belly (or waist) packs are good for towing if you can reach the boat but not very "aero-dynamic". I only mentioned the backward toss because I did have a towline. But in that situation, I was being pushed forward and the right move was for someone (connected to another boat so they could get out) to come to me.

    As it was, I'm still stuck in that narrow inlet ....

    No, I took a moment to relax, then carefully timed my backward push with the outgoing wave and braced my hands on both sides with the incoming. So I was able to work my way back out. Lesson learned (until the next time) :).
     
  18. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Got my MEC Fulcrum, thanks to an MEC gift cert I got for Christmas! It fits, it's comfy, and I love all the pockets! Thanks, guys!