Buoyancy aid advice

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Beth3754
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Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Beth3754 » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:16 pm

Hi,

I've been kayaking for a few months now and I'm looking at buying some of my own kit. I want to buy a new buoyancy aid and have got around £100 to spend on it. I was wondering if anyone has any advice about good types/what I should be looking for. So far I've seen two that I like the look of: the yak rakau and the palm fx. Has anyone tried either of these or know others that are good? I want one that's suitable for white water use and a storage pocket would be a bonus. I'm 5"6 female and around 67kg if that helps.

Thanks

BobbyR
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by BobbyR » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:44 am

We have Yak Rakau PFDs at our club and they are popular and look good (but then they are being compared to smelly polo pfds). The only negative thing I have seen is the Yak touring pfds have stacks of cheap foam behind the good quality foam to bulk out the buoyancy. Some people say the foam will not last and others say its cheap and floats, so who cares. I have not checked the Yak Rakau's innards though.

I went through various Yak and Hiko PFDs before settling on an Astral Greenjacket. It is a 70N PFD like the Rakau and it is good for me at 75kg.

BobbyR
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by BobbyR » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:46 am

Just double check that buoyancy rating for the Rakau. It says 70N on webshops and 55N on the sizing guide!

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:11 am

That may be something to do with the minimum requirements for CE standards which I think rates BAs as 50N irrespective of actual flotation

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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Franky » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:55 am

Comfort is really important too. Make sure you try a BA on before buying. They all fit differently. I liked the look of the Palm Amp, but found it very uncomfortable with all the pressure concentrated on the stomach. Lots of people like them though. Always try for yourself.

I changed the Amp for a Peak River Guide, which doesn't have quite as good flotation and didn't come in a colour I liked, but it is very comfortable.

Both BAs might be a bit more expensive than your budget but there are similar cheaper versions available that don't have as many bells and whistles. (I might be wrong but I think the Fx is a pared-down version of the Amp.)

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Jim
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Jim » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:29 am

Some ladies have told me the Astral YTV is made in a way that is comfortable for ladies so it may be one to try out - it is a freestyle BA though so whilst there are small storage pockets (granola bars fit, what else could you need?) there is no provision for a chest harness. It is for whitewater, but is not a rescue style BA.

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Mark Mulrain
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Mark Mulrain » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:07 pm

Jim wrote:Astral YTV
Something to note on the Astral YTV is that it is not CE approved. So not 100% legal for UK sale. It's totally fine. They just haven't put it through the testing process.

Astral shapes always seem to work well for women and they are ace BAs all round.

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morsey
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by morsey » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:29 pm

FX is a good buoyo, light, good fit, front pocket. I have one, it's on loan with my spare boat atm, has been used by five different people (male & female) no complaints so far.

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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Jim » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:54 pm

Mark Mulrain wrote:
Jim wrote:Astral YTV
Something to note on the Astral YTV is that it is not CE approved. So not 100% legal for UK sale. It's totally fine. They just haven't put it through the testing process.

Astral shapes always seem to work well for women and they are ace BAs all round.
I never realised that, I had to get mine in a hurry in the states because I needed a USCG approved one, CE approval is no good there.

The law that says BAs for sale in Europe have to be CE marked is presumably an EU law, I wonder if we will drop that when we leave and start allowing sale of USCG approved kit?

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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Mark Mulrain » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:44 pm

I just ignored all that stuff. Never had a problem using mine anywhere.

Some people might object to it if you were paddling on an artificial course or entering a competition though.

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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by BobbyR » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:05 am

I never realised that, I had to get mine in a hurry in the states because I needed a USCG approved one, CE approval is no good there.

The law that says BAs for sale in Europe have to be CE marked is presumably an EU law, I wonder if we will drop that when we leave and start allowing sale of USCG approved kit?
Directive 89/686/EEC actually... from 1989!

CE and USCG approval is just a local market requirement (like the Kite Mark for the British Market), which requires local testing. The CE directive just harmonises it across the common market. If manufacturers don't intend exporting to a specific market then they won't bother paying for local testing. You can buy USCG approved kit in the UK (Astral GreenJacket) which is also CE approved. Although I heard that GreenJackets bought in the EU weirdly do not have USCG markings which can cause issues if then used in the USA.

I don't expect CE markings will go away. Anyway they all confirm to ISO 12402-5.

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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by morsey » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:00 pm

Person asks about intro level buoyo's gets misleading lecture in US and EU standards.
Classic! Lols.

Returning to original brief:


Fx and Rakau are quite different buoyo's.

Do you actually require a harness? The majority of paddlers are unlikely to be clipping onto a rope to go into the water. For most paddlers a well fitting and comfortable buoyo are more important factors than a chest harness.

I used to work in a canoe store, I'd not show or suggest a harnessed buoyo to someone recently starting out, if they asked about the harness I'd ask if they've used one on a training course and if not I'd recommend they attend a training course before purchasing a new buoyo.

Points to look for:
Shape: is the front too high, too wide, too thick, does it accommodate the different anatomical fit of size and gender? Is the rear too high, too wide. Does the buoyo allow full range of movement. Ideally you need to try the buoyo on, with a spray deck and sit in a boat to see how the buoyo fits when in the boat.

Attachment: Straps/zips/buckles. Ideally there will be a lower waist strap with adjustable buckle (either one central or two side buckles). I'd say side buckles are easier in use to adjust and release. The waist strap ideally has a rubber coating which grips onto the cag/spray deck fabric, it's a small factor but works well. The waist strap is the main strap stoping the buoyo riding up when in the water. There will be another higher set of straps to adjust the fit. These require easy adjustment, especially if you over tighten them whilst standing and realise they are restricting whilst paddling/breathing.
Shoulder straps, in white water buoyo's the shoulder straps ideally continue full length front and rear and are stitched into the waist and lower straps, allowing a solid attachment point for lifting (I'd argue this factor is far more important for the majority use than having a chest harness) out of water when swimming/clipping in entrapment scenario/pulling up the bank etc.
Shoulder strap adjustment. Some buoyo's ride low some run full height. If you over tighten shoulder straps it lifts the buoyo. A good shoulder strap allows easy adjustment to take up the excess fabric and let the front on the buoyo sit snuggly. The shoulder straps are long to accommodate different body lengths, some people (many club paddlers) seem to pull these as tight as possible not realising the restriction on shoulders affects range of movement for paddling.

A buoyo should fit like a glove not like a vice. You need to move and breathe whilst wearing it and not be so reliant on it that you pull every strap as tight as possible. They function well being a snug fit.

Colour: This is important, choose one you like, you'll be wearing it.

Pockets: big enough to carry phone, money, knife (if you carry a rope), keys, snacks. (Pockets are not waterproof). Utility clips in pocket to attach keys (for peace of mind).

Make/brand: There is quite a bit of choice here. Most shops will run three/four different brands. This gives you quite a bit of choice as each have slightly different cuts/fit and so you'll ideally find one that suits you best.

Trend: Nylon, lycra, Velcro and neoprene are the main fabrics used in all canoeing gear. We are never attaining any fashion goals no matter how cool we think we look in our new shell suit (sorry immersion suit) and wearing a life jacket is never going to finds it's way on to the cat walk. At best It's a functional garment with nice pastel shades and coordinating/contrasting straps. If you like the look of your buoyo that's all that matters, to onlookers we all look the same anyway.

Cost: I bought my fx from Canoe + Kayak Store near Gloucester/Bristol (they also have a store at CIWW ideal for demo WW boats!). They have a well stocked store to give choice. Not sure if they are the cheapest but they support events at CIWW and give discount to the clubs I paddle with so that's incentive enough for me to shop there and their service is on point, recommended.

To summarise fit/comfort/functionality/colour/cost. Out of the two mentioned I'd recommend the FX.

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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by chriscw » Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:22 pm

Echoing what a previous poster has said do if you can try the type you want to buy while swimming and since you intend to paddle white water try it on white water. Depending on your shape some buoyancy aids will ride up your torso and get in the way a bit if you do take a swim.
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The Chuckster
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by The Chuckster » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:46 pm

Fx is a good PFD, but my girlfirend finds that the shoulder straps don't quite tighten down enough to make it comfortable. Like most girls, her upper body is proportionally smaller than the lower body. She has gone down a size to the xs, and found a good fit, as a better fit PFD is better than going for the right weight, and it not fitting correctly. She was limited in her choice as she wanted a non bulky PFD with a harness.

I would suggest when trying them in shops to sit in a kayak with a deck on and adjust it then, as both boat and deck will push the PFD up the body a bit

Beth3754
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Re: Buoyancy aid advice

Post by Beth3754 » Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:12 pm

Thanks for your help everyone. I was planning to buy online but after seeing your posts have decided to try them on in a shop first :). Definitely lots of great looking options to consider.

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