Brand name PFD you have actually used to paddle in and recommend?

In this forum, I've seen all those recommendations for inflatable lifejackets that you can wear around your waist. I spent 35 years with inflatable lifejackets and know them to be &*(%$^%. The lever mechanisms and puncture pins always corrode up, the CO2 capsules leak, and you don't know where you stand unless you do very DETAILED maintenace daily. They are something like Dumbo's feather, a magic talisman to satisfy a legal requirement with no true practical value. The last thing I elect to do on saltwater is to trust my life to ferrous metals or their alloys.

Who has a foam lifejacket that they feel offers a good comfortable fit that does not interfere..much...with their stroke.

I've seen the Mocke advertised by Ocean Paddle Sports, but know it is NOT USCG approved. I look at it and cannot see where the foam is. I also note it has a place for hydration, which has to make it heavy when it is on your back out of the water.

Yeah, yeah, I know they all chafe and give you an uneven tan. Favorites? Ones you've seen in a catalog or store that you'd buy if you didn't have religious convictions about wearing lifejackets?

Personally I'm thinking of weaving kapok into my jams.

Submitted by YankeeHookele on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 10:30am

These Stohlquist PFDs look pretty cool.

#1 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 11:50am

This is the one I use...I found it cheaper somewhere (under $200). Spendy yes, but I have three kids, a wife and an unstable surfski...I've used it on my OC1 and it is pretty comfy

#2 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 12:06pm

Those Mocke jackets you mentioned looks like they have very little foam panels in them from what I can see. I'm guessing maybe no more than 1/2 inch thick and the color is white. You can see it under the mesh on the Orange colored one they show. Not sure how safe they would be or how much bouyancy it provides without getting one to try. I like the design though.

They remind me of some of the LBV/H-Harness type gear that I saw a few times at an Extreme Outfitters store. They had this one that had a thicker than normal foam shoulder straps along with extra foam panels in the back and sides to give you some bouyancy if you went in the water. Definitely not USCG approved either.

I wouldn't care about an uneven tan (if I had to wear one) as I mostly paddle with a UV shirt (long sleeve, short sleeve, tank top) anyways.

The Wedge and Wedge-E mentioned above looks like something I would look into further. And even that Race Pro one too.

"Cool mesh panels at sides, roomy flat profile pocket with D-ring, 4-way tab for knife or whistle, and there is hi-vis reflective on both the front and back."

#3 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 12:36pm

What are you looking for, something that's attached to your body or just readily available?

I predict that statistically, with respect to ocean paddling sports (SS/OC, etc...), the vast majority of accidents where flotation would be helpful do not involve acute loss of conciousness, so just having something readily available is "good enough" safety for cost-benefit risk mitigation. The risk of getting brained on an OC1 is extremely low...but yes it does exist. To me it's not worth the uncomfort of wearing a pfd.

Of course, when paddling offshore, wear your leash.

So rather than research and buy expensive equipment (although I'm so guilty of that habit...), purchasing a regular-joe type-II lifejacket and duct-taping it behind the seat would do the job just fine. To get fancy, you could buy those sticky-tabs(at surf shop), place them in a pattern on the deck behind seat and bungie the LJ in place. When it gets heavy or torn, go buy another, they're pretty cheap and light, but will likely last for years. Nothing to clean or maintain. When your boat breaks up and you need to swim, hop off, reach back, unattach and don it, then pull your seat out for even more flotation and start kicking for the beach.

Of course, when the winds pick up to 70 kts and you just gotta get some, THAT's the time to wear a pro-tec helmet and wear the cool-guy kayak vest, and definitely not an inflatable; you gotta rig for crash on those days...

Anyway, not really answering the question, but suggesting another route... Enjoy.

#4 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 1:02pm

Kanu The Rock
I've used Kokatat Orbit Tour for years, very low profile, comfortable, I never get on the water without wearing it. No paddling interferance and has pockets for cellphone, emergency gear etc. Nice to see some interest in PFDs.

#5 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 12:59pm

I agree with Bob ,

Kokatat Orbit tour:

#6 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 2:00pm

well this thread is about what PFD that anyobne would recommend
First, I recommend wearing one,
I live in Canada and we have Cold water, so I think of a PFD is like car seat belts" they work when you wear them "- and the actual chances of being able to put a PFD on in Cold water is really difficult. Try it - it's hard.

But I like Stohlquist because they are one of the few companies that make PFD's for women.

#7 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 4:01pm

The Mocke Jacket is pretty awesome. quite comfortable to wear and paddle in, has a pocket on the back for hydration and on the front for cell phone or whatever. Offers enough flotation even though it looks flimsy. Light and airy so it's not hot and it doesn't retain water.

I agree with you Yankee on those inflatable jackets, too many bits and pieces to go wrong for a safety device. And the whole manual inflation completely counters the concept of having a life jacket, but so does having the life jacket strapped to the canoe and not the canoeist.

#8 Sun, 10/05/2008 - 4:45pm

I wonder if any of these slim line vest will hold your head above water if you get knocked out. I know the Mocke will not, but I think that is the rig that I am most likely to actually wear and I need pockets for saftey stuff and hydration bladder

#9 Mon, 10/06/2008 - 9:25am

Dennis Mocke had his daughter Nikki bring one to the US for me. The vest is awesome, to put it bluntly. It's made of mesh so is light and airy. The flotation is provided by small blocks in the rear and small panels in the front that conform really well to your body. There is a back pocket for a hydration bladder with very well placed velcro to put the tube in any position you want. There is an additional front pocket to put other items. It zips on, so make sure you buy the right size. It has adjustable shoulder straps and a neat double velcro waist belt to keep it in place. Finally, it comes in bright colors for visibility. I've tried a bunch of other vests, including a waistpack inflatable, and this is by far the best in my opinion. I can email a pic if anyone wants one.

#10 Mon, 10/06/2008 - 10:26am

The Mocke Paddle Jackets were mentioned in another thread (and by the OP) along with the link to Ocean Paddle Sports who sell them online. Last time they were out of stock, and now they only have Large/XL, XXL/ 3 XL as the Small/Medium are SOLD OUT.

Also, as YankeeHo’okele mentioned, they are not USCG approved.

#11 Mon, 10/06/2008 - 2:10pm

I was at oceanpaddlesports today. The 2xl/3XL is SMALL, more like an XL. I could not get the zipper started. I was pretty bummed out. She is going to see if they make anything bigger.

#12 Mon, 10/06/2008 - 4:00pm

You can probably do fine by going to any shop that sells canoe and kayak stuff and trying on various PFDs. Sit somewhere and make paddling motions while wearing them. Make sure that you can put the PFD on so that it is both comfortable while paddling and tight enough that it won't slide up if you are in the water.

Chafing and uneven tans can be avoided if you wear a shirt or rash guard under the PFD.

If possible, choose a color that stands out in the water, like red, orange, or yellow. If you paddle at night or dusk, consider looking for reflective stuff.

As far as strapping a PFD to the boat which you are leashed to goes, yes, it can help if you have time to get it and put it on. But occasionally leashes do fail. It is safer to have two things that float (boat and PFD) independently attached to you, rather than having just one of them attached to you with the other attached to it.

#13 Sun, 10/12/2008 - 3:52pm

David Sheen from Victoria, Australia is missing after setting out on a training paddle.
Mr Scheen's competition surf ski was found smashed against a rocky inlet just east of his launch site on Monday, along with a life vest.

Wearing a PFD is better than having it strapped to the boat...

#14 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:40pm

Hiro's observation is wise and true, but rarely put into practice.

We used to have an expression in the Navy, "train as you will fight." In other words, don't train for a situation in swim trunks when you know when it hits the fan you'll be be wearing rubber coveralls. Wear the %^&* coveralls. You will learn things you didn't think of.

How many races have you been in that require lifejackets be worn? Everyone trains for races, not emergencies. Races are real, emergencies happen to someone else. If the officials who know everything don't require them, how important can they be?

Canoeists will start wearing lifejackets when races routinely require them. Only then will the designers start coming up with better designed lifejackets for OC-1-ers.

When some mega-champ gets his photo taken in a dayglo PFD with an eye-popping design, others will follow.
"Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm" - Syrus Publilius

#15 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:23am

Very unfortunate about Mr. Sheen; hopefully he'll turn up at a pub somewhere but report doesn't sound hopefull.

I'll never dispute the good idea to always wear a PFD but will always remain a pro-choicer. It's up to the individual to take responsibility for thier own risk management.

And not to take Sheen's situation lightly, but I don't believe we have any facts to support the PFD attached to washed up SurfSki as a causality of the situation. It very well may be, but not enough information yet.

Anyway, always a bummer to lose another.

#16 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 9:54am

I don't have a positive lifejacket reference, but I'll tell you one to avoid!

Serratus Flak jacket. I'm not sure if they even make them anymore, but it's the most uncomfortable thing you could wear in a canoe. First race I wore it in, it left me bleeding after wearing the skin off the inside of both arms. Next time I had to race with it, I tied the front together with rigging rope to protect my arms. Turns out the race didn't require us to wear them, only to have them on the boat. So I didn't wear it (I now know that's a bad thing to do)

Fast forward to today. I've been reading all the safety discussions and thought I should give it one more try. My Hillbilly rope worked to save my arms, but the serrated (Serratus?) bottom edge of the jacket wore a hole almost completely through my wetsuit. I only paddled for just over an hour!

I've been trying to find a new lifejacket, with lots of time spent at Western Canoe wearing their jackets and sitting on the floor pretending to paddle. Thanks for all the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!

#17 Fri, 10/17/2008 - 7:33pm

"How many races have you been in that require lifejackets be worn? Everyone trains for races, not emergencies."

Actually, the Wavechaser races in Northern California now require PFDs to be worn. Either inherently buoyant or inflatable PFDs are allowed.

It may actually be more important to have the PFD worn or at least attached to you (rather than the boat) during small boat training on water where you cannot easily swim to shore. While training, you may be with just a few other paddlers on small boats. In comparison, in a race (assuming similar water and weather conditions as the training), there are numerous other paddlers around, as well as escort boats, so rescue is likely to be faster in a race situation.

#18 Sun, 10/26/2008 - 3:02pm

Dav has been missing for over 2 weeks now and there is next to no hope he will be found alive, his family have accepted that.

The one thing missing Dav did not have, was a leg or paddle leash. His PFD, Mobile phone,hat and hydration bottle were found and it was assumed he was knocked off his ski by a large wave and failed to swim to safety even though he was an excellent swimmer.

Very tragic and a lesson for all of us. Warrnambool is within an hours drive of Bells beach the surfing mecca in Victoria, i used to surf this area in my younger days and it's a very treacherous ocean there.

#19 Sun, 10/26/2008 - 3:39pm

I tried the Mocke Jackets this morning and i love it. It's very comfortable and easy to adjust.

I'm ordering today.


#20 Tue, 10/28/2008 - 5:26am

I use a Stohlquist, it fits well due to the straps being very adjustable. I wear it when I solo paddle or now when our water is chilly.

It's job is to "save your life" so you want something that will float you end of story. I have been in the water with it and it floats my 200 lbs fine.

The model I have has a decent front zip pocket that holds some munchies, a cell and a power gel or 2.

It has a waist clip that works well when I have it off but want it on board. I wrap it around the back iako at the boat and can unclip it and put it on easily from there when required...

My only fit advice is try one on and take deep breaths to expand your chest, making sure it's not too constricting and that you can loosen off the pressure if required.

#21 Sun, 11/09/2008 - 8:12pm

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