Lowest profile PFD

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by pawsplus, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I got a new PFD last year from MEC. It's great for trips because POCKETS! But it's very bad for rolling. Dubside hates it--he kept calling it "that bulky thing" all week LOL. Without it I can lie down flat on the deck but with it, there is so much back padding that I can't get my head back on the deck because the foam is holding me up. Before you all day, "Tuilik"--I know, I know. Can't afford one. And at symposia they always want you in a PFD.

    I shouldn't have sold my old one, but I was raising money for my Pilgrim Ex and pretty much sold everything that stood still long enough. So I am looking for a CHEAP PFD that is ultra low profile (as little foam in back as possible and still be called a PFD). Dubside has a Mizfit--his is so ancient it would be flat anyway LOL. But would that be a good choice? And what if I put the back under a piece of plywood and some concrete blocks for a few days?
     
  2. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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  3. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    Can you rip out a couple of seams on the MEC PFD and shift foam from the lower back to the front? Or buy a cheap/used one that doesn't meet your "no back padding" requirement and do the same?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  4. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    What about an inflatable PFD?

    Are they legal where you are, as they have nothing on the back except straps and a neck collar. They of course don't have any storage capability, so you may be back to wearing something else underneath that carries what you need.

    If you do use an inflatable one, be aware of a couple of things:

    They don't have any thermal insulation properties, which is probably not an issue where you normally paddle, but in the San Juans etc that could be an issue.

    Also, train to use it! I have witnessed two instances, and written about two others, where people had come out of their boats and didn't inflate their inflatable PFDs. This was because in their adrenalised state they didn't even think about doing so, as they had never trained for the event.

    In one situation, off the west coast of Ireland, this resulted in a very long swim with the super-experienced paddler eventually being swept onto rocks resulting in multiple abrasions and lacerations. In another a paddler became separated from her paddling companion, swam, and during her multiple attempts to self-rescue was swept into Cook Strait, a wild piece of water separating NZ's North and South Islands. It was only the response from shore-based observers that saved her.

    Also, consider the worst-case scenario where you need your PFD. To me, that would be when I have become separated from my kayak, and I'm now a swimmer a long way from help. I would then want as much buoyancy as I could have, and I want access to the multiple emergency signalling devices I carry on me.

    If you want a specialised PFD just for rolling-training that is one thing, but be conscious of your PFDs role. (excuse the weak pun)

    Cheers

    John
     
  5. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I'm not going to tear up my expensive one. Maybe a cheap one. I don't want to use an inflatable one. I can just do roll practice without (let's face it--if you can't roll up and can't wet exit, your PFD won't make any diff anyway!). And I always have someone with me and am in waist-high water. But I find that while learning a roll, a little bit of extra flotation helps. On the Norsaq roll, anyway, I need to wait until I float up a bit, with my face up, before starting. I find this difficult without a PFD. Once I have the roll, it doesn't really matter.

    Does anyone have the Msfit? Can you measure the depth of the back padding and maybe take a pic of the back? Online listings only show the front.
     
  6. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    You can forget all about the padding in the back by learning the forward finishing rolls...

    Yes, the foam pfd padding is the rolling issue next after a high cockpit coaming.
     
  7. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    If you ever win the lottery, you can get one of these
    https://kokatat.com/product/seao2-pfd-lvusea

    Are you aware that you ask for advice and often reject it because of your biases?

    And just so you know that I speak from experience: I own a Pilgrim Expedition, 4 tuiliks, a MsFit, a SeaO2, the Mustang fishing vest, a modern Mustang inflatable, and I'm somewhat skilled at rolling.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Well, you could try actually answering the question. I specifically asked about the MsFit. So if that is a good idea, you could say that. I asked a very specific question. I don't want a fishing best or an inflatable vest. I want, as the subject line says, a low profile PFD.

    Thanks.
     
  9. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Working on the storm roll. :) But still wanting to perfect my rear deck rolls. The PFD seems to interfere the most during the Norsaq roll. I actually keep snagging the day hatch cover with the PFD and pulling it up!
     
  10. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    That SeaO2 does look like a great idea, but yeah, $$$. If I hadn't bought the MEC one, I would go for it. But I can't have two pricey PFDs. Thanks to the symposium last week, I'm broke.
     
  11. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    You don't have the experience to make an informed decision.

    And regarding the MsFit ... any decent (ordinary) PFD will have foam on the back and that foam will interfere with layback rolls. Duh. Look at the pounds of flotation; most have ~15. The SeaO2 has 7.5 when deflated.

    An inflatable with a small amount of air (one breath) allows the air to move around. So during a layback the air moves to the chest. During a front finishing roll, the air moves to behind the neck.
    I don't like the modern Mustangs (for rolling) because the cartridge is down low, not in a great position. The fishing vest works great.

    Most likely you don't need a low profile pfd in the PilgrimX. Try without a pfd, but learn to twist your torso so your face & shoulders are near the surface even when the kayak is upside down. You should be able to do a Petrussen maneuver in that kayak, but you will likely have to take at least one foot off the pegs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  12. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Perhaps not, but Dubside does. He is the one who suggested the MsFit.

    My friend has an inflatable--I can try it. I don't see a lot of use for such a vest otherwise, so don't want to spend money on one. Pretty sure I have enough experience of my own financial situation to know that. :)

    Dubside and I tried it without a PFD. Perhaps I "should" be able to do it without, but at this point with the Norsaq roll, I cannot. Standard, shotgun, butterfly all easy without PFD, but I am still coordinating timing of everything with the Norsaq and despite orienting my face and shoulders parallel to the water, I feel myself sinking sans PFD and then I am out of position. I'm hitting the Norsaq about 60% of the time and it comes and goes. Made progress with it last week and will try 1/2 paddle sans PFD next week at next rolling practice to see if I have enough flotation for that.
     
  13. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    So learn the roll on your offside - no hatch cover

    http://www.qajaqusa.org/newsletter/Masik_Summer_2010_v2.pdf#page=28
    http://www.qajaqusa.org/newsletter/Masik_Winter_2005_02054.pdf#page=3
    http://www.qajaqusa.org/newsletter/Masik_Fall20036.pdf#page=14
    http://redoorninkayak.embarqspace.com/tuilik/4530713466
    http://www.qajaq.nl/content/view/33/1/lang,en/

    I was (mainly) referring to your rejection of an inflatable ... when it does exactly what you want.

    Did you look up the Petrussen maneuver ?
     
  14. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    Those are some great links Al. I'd forgotten about The Masik and the good information it has.
     
  15. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    Cheers Jim.

    Know anyone in the Courtenay area with a narrow SOF?
     
  16. designer

    designer Paddler

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    First, any suggestion to modify your PFD should be viewed in the light that will probably "invalidate" that PFD in the eyes of the CoastGuard, insurance company, and manufacturer warranty department.

    Second, padding is placed where it is to control the floating orientation of the PDF. In the olden days, some PFD's would keep you afloat but would allow your to float with your face in the water. I'm sure today's designs keep your face up and out of the water. Modifying the padding ratio could interfere with that design.

    Third, long ago, when I had a problem, I discovered it was useful to look around a little. Was the problem with the thing/object I was dealing with, or was the problem with me. If I saw that many other people could do what I wanted to do with what I had, then I knew I had to work on myself rather than change what I had. For example, I am only 5'6" and paddle a Mariner which has a high back deck (especially if you are only 5'6") and I use a MisFit PFD. And when I do it just right, I roll right up - no strain, no effort (I'm not saying that happens often).

    To be fair, I was trained to do a sweep roll that primarily uses a forward lean - though finishing with a back deck lean can sometimes "save" the roll. And I'm not saying you should stick with what you have when there is a better solution for you out there. I'm just concerned about modifying what you have as the modification could reduce its effectiveness when you need it.

    Last, I would not be a fan of "inflatable" for such a basic piece of survival gear. I'd want it as simple as possible - no moving parts, no switches, pulls, CO2 canisters, etc. to possibly fail.

    All that said, my other PFD is an Astral Air Escape - designed for "high back" kayaks. It has some padding up by my head, but not none (or very little) by my mid back and lower - so I can bend backwards easier. If I recall, it wasn't very expensive and was sold by REI - which means several times of the year it goes on sale at 20% off or you could use the "buy $100 worth of stuff between X and Y dates and get a $20 gift credit" (with must be used within a few weeks) option to lower the cost.

    I just Googled the Air Escape PFD and didn't see a ready link - so it might be discontinued. But if Astral made one, they probably make another with a similar style for high back boats (or people who what to lay back roll). They are out there and if you find one, you will have it for a long time. So divide the cost by a number of years (and if necessary the number of months) you will have it and the cost per year (month, day) will probably be worth it for something you can count on and works with your style.

    This is a much longer reply than intended but was triggered when I read the words about modifying the original design of a PFD to accommodate and issue that was solvable by other means.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  17. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    We are talking about a PFD for a norsaq roll, which very few people would use as a combat roll.
    Maybe this guy
    In other words, if you are working on a norsaq roll, you're probably not in a survival situation.

    I wear a MsFit for long trips due to the possibility of a puncture of the SeaO2. I wear the MsFit at Surge because I may give a rescue to someone whose roll has failed.

    When I cross Discovery Passage (3-6 knots) to go rolling in Gowlland Harbour, I wear my SeaO2 (it has a pocket for marine radio, the inflatable does not have a good fitting pocket)
    To practice rolling, I empty the kayak, remove pfd &skirt, put on the inflatable pfd if I want extra flotation, put on the tuilik, and proceed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  18. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Designer--Don't worry--I don't want to destroy a PFD, esp since I'm broke LOL. And I will always wear a proper one for trips, etc. I like to practice rolling without out one because with it I am always going to be a few inches above the deck (see pic in my profile for the big bulk of rear flotation in this vest), which means no matter how well I do, I'm not doing it completely right. And Dubside does seem to feel that it's interfering with my ability to get the Norsaq 100%. Mine was bulkier than anyone else's we looked at.

    Nootka--I will try my friend's inflatable one to see if it helps. I do know about the Petrrussen maneuver. I have worked on keeping my left hand on the boat to pull my face to the surface, but have not done the full maneuver. Not sure I understand how that would help . . . Explain?

    Sometimes I can do the Norsaq roll easily and sometimes it fails. At this point, I'm mostly just not coordinating everything at the right time every single time. It helped a lot when Dubside told me that it's more like the shotgun than the butterfly. Then we went from shotgun to half a paddle to Norsaq and it was better. I'm just trying to eliminate any extraneous issues that might be holding me back, and Dubside identified the PFD as one. He kind of hates my PFD. His is so old that it would probably not work as a PFD anyway, LOL--not that he needs one.
     
  19. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Cool!! Of course, the whole point of the Norsaq roll is for a situation in which you have lost your paddle and the Norsaq is all you have, so it COULD be needed as a combat roll. :) I spent the summer working on scenarios like no paddle/ have to pull out spare GP while capsized, and roll up; ditto with half a paddle; and now, ditto with half a Euro paddle. So eventually I will work on that with the Norsaq when it seems established enough.

    It's getting cold here now, but we are planning on donning dry suits and hoods and sticking with it until we absolutely can't anymore--then it's back to the pool classes with the WW boats.
     
  20. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Astoriadave likes this.