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Old 10-04-2014   #1
SpeyCatr's Avatar
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 267
High Flotation PFD's

I'm just wondering what high flotation PFD's guys are running and how you would compare them to say your average low profile PFD (say kayaker style) as far as ability to row with them on. I currently wear a Stohlquist Drifter with around 16 pounds flotation give or take and was looking at getting a higher flotation model in the future. Anyone wear the Extrasport Ranger? (this one has 29 pounds flotation!) Extrasport Swiftwater Ranger at

Or similar high flotation PFD's? What do you wear and what do you think lot it from an ability to row your craft with it on? Have you taken a swim in lower flotation and higher flotation models? Is there a big difference?

Future owner of AIRE Wave Destroyer w/MadCatr Frame
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Old 10-05-2014   #2
Bigdrops's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 70
I wear a NRS big water guide, I'm on my third one now. It's comfortable and does not hinder me in any way, and I like the pockets too. I have used the extrasport ranger in the past and found that is was to long for me, too cumbersome and uncomfortable. I prefer the high float jacket simply because it works way better, a low float jacket barley keeps my nose above water.

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Old 10-05-2014   #3
k2andcannoli's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 657
Its like squirt boating without the boat.
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Old 10-05-2014   #4
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 312
hahahaha ^^^^^ got a good chuckle from that one K2.
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Old 10-05-2014   #5
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
I am 6'6" 300 lbs, and I started with a hi float PFD. I didn't find much of a problem with range of motion, but I have a long torso and relatively short legs for my height. I didn't like swimming rapids with it, The extra floatation tended to dictate my position in the water, and it always bothered me. I switched to a 16 lb kayaker style PFD a while ago, and I like it more. I don't do a ton of big water, but my last swim was in big waves. I fell in at the crux of a steep wave and didn't surface for 3 waves after I fell in. I am pretty comfortable with that, but I am sure that a 22 lb jacket would have surfaced me quicker in that situation.
The 22 lb jacket I had was longer and the flotation down lower, so it pretty much forces you into a horizontal position. If I was knocked out, I'd prefer that, but I'd rather feel more in control of my body's position for most situations.
Now I am looking at rescue PFDs, trying to figure out which one will meet my expectations.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 10-05-2014   #6
Enfield, New Hampshire
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 332
High bouyancy PFDs

Any recommendations for these? A typical one would be like the Extrasport Hi Float. I am looking for something that would have a 22lbs bouyancy rating or more. Built in Rescue tethers not required.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-05-2014   #7
Rifle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 93
Hi Float pfd

check out the MTI Big Bouy. 25 lbs of floatation.
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Old 10-06-2014   #8
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,362
I ordered several this summer- tried them in my rowing seat and kept the NRS. Didn't feel like the Extrasport quality was as high.

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Old 10-06-2014   #9
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
My wife went with the NRS Big Water Guide and I find the design uncomfortable for most rivers we do. I do not like the blockiness of the design. I could see it being an acceptable compromise in huge water but not for me.

I went with the Stohlquist Descent and bought the "add-a-bouy" flotation bladder to bump it up from 17 lbs to 22 lbs. The vest is the most comfortable design I have ever used. The bout works like a champ and had the added benefit of creating an extra ritual for me to help focus for bigger runs. You can remove the quick release if you are uncomfortable with it being a "rescue" vest.

Best of luck.

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Old 10-06-2014   #10
Issip's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 185
NRS Big Water Guide PFD

I bought an NRS Big Water Guide PFD and really like it for floatation - 22lbs. I bought one 2 seasons ago and I really like it. It's comfortable, adjustable, I find it easy to swim in and it makes a noticeable difference over the standard 16lb PFD's in keeping your face above the water in big rapids.

I wanted a rescue PFD when I bought it, but the only real difference is the Big Water Guide PFD isn't designed for live bait rescues, which don't really occur in normal class III-IV rafting scenarios. The Big Water is ~half the price of a rescue PFD.

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