Which pfd ?

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Which pfd ?

Post by pw3 »

Hi All,

I'm hoping someone can give me a bit of advice on what type of pfd to buy.

Is there a reason not to use a ww pfd for touring and vice versa ?
I'm just getting back into kayaking after nearly 40 years and would like to do a bit of easy white water and also some day trips pottering around harbours & coast etc.

Ideally I'd like to buy just the one pfd that will do me for everything.

Thanks in advance,

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Re: Which pfd ?

Post by Chalky723 »

I had a touring type PFD when I started out, it had pockets & pouches that were useful for stashing bits & bobs.

When I started White Water (and when I knew what I was doing) I got one with the Rescue Harness (Astral Green Jacket) - the pockets on a WW vest tend to be more streamlined so the outline is smoother. You can't get quite as much in them as I did in my old touring style vest, but I tend to keep things in the back of the kayak as I know they're less likely to get ripped out if I swim....

I'm mainly WW now, so the Astral does for normal river paddling too. But it honestly depends on how much WW vs Touring you're going to do.

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Re: Which pfd ?

Post by Jim »

There is only one ISO standard for buoyancy aids, all of them meet it (unless you are in the US where it will be USCG standard), all have the basic legal amount of buoyancy, when new.

Touring BAs will have a little bit over the specified minimum, WW/rescue BAs usually have 2x or more of the specified minimum. Racing BAs have just enough to buoyancy to pass a test if checked at a race (usually only international events).

Buoyancy foam is quite bulky. WW paddlers favour a lot of additional buoyancy because swimming in rapids is difficult and the boils etc can make the water aerated so it provides less support than normal, the trade off for this extra security is that the bulk of extra foam can end up being a bit restrictive. Touring paddlers usually have a bit of extra buoyancy because they carry stuff in the BA pockets, and they want it to last a few years (the buoyancy of the foam diminishes slightly with age), but they don't want it too restrictive, especially if covering a lot of miles at a time. Racers want minimum restriction and something that meets the race rules (some flat water race disciplines don't require them for over 16s, so they aren't worn!) so they make do with minimal buoyancy.

Personally I am probably overly confident in my own abilities and wear a race BA most of the time because it gives me the most freedom to paddle. If I am running difficult WW I will switch to a rescue BA since the harness can be useful if I need to assist rescuing others, or for rescuing me (I'm possibly only still alive because friends were able to connect a rope to my harness and extract me from a difficult pin around 15 years ago).

If your easy whitewater is on narrow rocky rivers you should probably get a WW BA, but try to find out how much buoyancy each has and look for types that aren't right at the top end, and the ntry them on to see if they work well with your body shape. If your easy whitewater is on bigger rivers where the features are waves caused by obstacles well below the surface, you are less likely to need a rescue harness so might be more comfortable with a touring BA.

Another consideration is which you are going to do first? If you are going to mainly paddle around harbours and coasts to start with, you might be as well buying a touring BA to get your started and putting some more money aside to buy a WW BA later when you get round to doing some (or vice versa).

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Re: Which pfd ?

Post by Strad »

must admit I paddle pretty much every where in a palm helix, comfy and does the job - would want something like the Amp or the Extrem if I was going to start regularly pushing 4s or higher.
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Re: Which pfd ?

Post by Franky »

Something to bear in mind is that touring and sea BAs can accidentally come undone on white water.

I first used a Yak sea BA on white water, but the zip on the side kept coming undone. You move your body about a lot on WW, and this places strain on the fastenings that a touring or sea BA isn't designed for.

Most WW BAs don't (I think) have zips: you slip them on and then tighten them with straps.

If I were doing a mixture of WW and flat water/sea (as I do), I would use a WW PFD for everything. Some of them are bulky, but the Peak UK River Runner that I ended up with is relatively slimline, and I find it comfortable on all types of water. It has decent pockets: I can fit in safety tape+carabiner, camera, Aquapac with keys, several Mars Bars, and have space left over.

(There's also the River Guide, which is the same as the River Runner with the addition of a harness and shoulder pads. That's what I started out with. When I needed to replace it, I bought the cheaper River Runner and moved the extra bits over from the old BA.)

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