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Old 04-13-2017   #11
Top Quality River Gear
Cascade River Gear's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1960
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 230
Hi Livenswell,

Let’s try this again… I had finished my reply to you and the internet at the shop went down which erased it all. Silly computers. So here is the skinny;

Stohlquist Betsea 16.10 lbs flotation– My oldest and favorite of all my jackets. There is an actual groove cut in the inside of the jacket in all the right places. It feels a bit bulky when new but will form around your body and get comfortable. I wore this one for 21 days through the Grand Canyon, took a good swim in both Hance and Lava and popped right up. I should have had the high float on but it just wasn’t very comfortable. BetSEA PFD | Cascade River Gear

MTI PFDiva 16.8 lbs flotation – I have a couple of these and wear them often, mostly in the colder boating season. There are inserts like in our bathing suit tops that can be removed to make more space. I found that the straps rub my shoulders too much if I am in my bathing suit top so I like these when I have on my drysuit or splash gear. I am pretty sure I went for a swim in this one last summer on the canyon stretch of the Payette and I am still here to talk about it haha! MTIPFDiva PFD – SALE 2016 Colors | Cascade River Gear

Astral Layla 16.5 lbs flotation – This one is probably the best fit for the girls. I wore this one the most last summer however it was more because it matched my boat, yep I am girl. I took a Hell’s Canyon swim in this one last summer. It was the season of swimming for me, hoping not to repeat the same this season. It is comfortable for long days. Astra Layla PFD | Cascade River Gear

Astral Green Jacket 16.4 lbs flotation – Many of the curvy boater babes in Idaho have been wearing this jacket for the last couple of seasons. They like the fit and instead of things being pushed into your armpits they are held up a bit. This one doesn’t fit me well but the girls love it. It is a rescue jacket and you may not need all the bells and whistles that come with it. Special Edition 2017 Astral GreenJacket PFD | Cascade River Gear

I hope that helps, I went down and tried on the MTI Atlas, it replaced the MTI Headwater this year and is 21.9 lbs flotation however it was a squish fest and I wouldn’t recommend that for a curvy girl. I also tried the new Stohlquist Misty 16-17 lbs flotation and that one is a bit too bulky which just sent the girls sideways.

I hope I was delicate enough in the descriptions not to offend anyone. I am sorry I don’t have more recommendations for a high float; they just don’t fit girls like us comfortably so I am sticking to the 3 above, I have ran enough big water in them to feel good about the flotation in all 3. Have a great evening and let me know if I can help with anything else.

Keep it Right Side Up,

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Old 04-13-2017   #12
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 903
Extrasport Hi-float?
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Old 06-08-2017   #13
Jungle Jane's Avatar
Nederland, Co. nearest town., Either grace or kerfuffled
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 196
Hi livenswell.

Some thought on hifloat jackets. It looks like the post , 2 posts above mine has some excellent suggestions. I was a commercial guide for years...I got an extrasport, ribbed hifloat once before a swiftwater class, and could not sell it fast enough. Sure, I popped up out of water maybe 1/2 second faster, but alot of extra flotation was above the shoulders, which does nothing once its above the water level.
The people practicing throwbagging all missed; and if I had waited for someone to rescue me, I would've been in river least 2/3 mile, cold water. AS soon as I could see a path with few rocks, I turned over and did a crawl stroke to get out of current; much more difficult with a cumbersome hi-float on.

My best idea would be to call big volume river companies (grand canyon, high water main salmon, etc.) see what they recommend; rent a h-ifloat or another rental jacket. THERE ARE SO MANY KINDS NOW. They even make a jacket that comes with extra floatation you can add/remKve.

Just while I'm n subjectO NOT BUY A RESCUE JACKET WITH ALL THE BEELLS, WHISTLE, QUICKRELEASE BELT WITH CARABEENER. tHOSE JACKETS WILLK NOT HELP YOU, AND ARE DESIGNED TO WORK WITH AT LEST ONE. OTHER PERSON WHO HAS SWIFTWATER TRAINING. I leave quickrelease belt w/ carabeener at home, if I'm not boating with another that has actual training who to use this Jacket. (There's even wa warning on jacket label, saying not to buy unless you have special swiftwater, rescue training. You can borrow, rental is the best way to go if you can find an assortment you like. Don't forget, those 25lb. floatation lifejckets are made for 250-300 lb people(and the jacket i saw with removable floatation; they may make a 'floatation belt' now, that you could cinch around waist add to a small profile lifejacket. I like to go into a store, try on options, (used sports stores as well) and if i fallin love with something, shop the net anfd getmit for1/2 the price rent one tillI find what I want, etc. All those listed above sound like excellent options to go try on....I wouldn't even put so much emphasis on 16 vs. 25 lbs floatation, unles life jacket if for exceptionally large person. I also am not aware if they PFD w/leg straps for anyone larger than kids. If your life jacket it cinched properly, it should not ever come off you, and I've never seen someone who lost their lifejacket (except on land. when they didn't hook it to something and it blew away!
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Old 06-08-2017   #14
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,598
One thing to keep in mind with hi-float pfd's, is that all of that flotation matters when you are below water, possibly getting chundered. Flotation isn't only for the water's surface.
Living in Montana, boating in Idaho
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Old 08-31-2017   #15
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 90
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 14
I am a white water canoeist and I have canoed the Grand 4 times wearing my Kokatat Ms Fit. Far and away more comfortable than any other PFD. I swam Lava Falls three times and I was happy with the PFD. I am actually on my third MsFit now.
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Old 12-28-2017   #16
Eureka, California
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 62
I like the Extra-sport B27 PFD with crotch straps The straps really do make a big difference in big water
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Old 12-29-2017   #17
Livenswell's Avatar
Edgewood..., Not New...Not Mexico
Paddling Since: 0930
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 68
Stohlquist Cruiser w/ leg straps

Thanks to all who have provided the input from experience, that's what we were looking for. We gained a better sense of comfort knowing that 16#'s vs. 25#'s is probably going to be fine and the realization that that amount of flotation is about the max flotation you are going to find in a PFD specifically sized and built for women - there are very few good options for anything greater than 16#. The whole exercise made us realize how little there is out there in adventure gear that is specifically built for women vs. all the options for men. Seems like the industry has an open window for someone to get into and start making gear more specifically sized and built to the female body.

She actually loves the fit of her Stohlquist Cruiser and wasn't keen to the idea of having to get into a hi-float like my Extrasport Swiftwater as the fit with those was terrible for her. Since the "wrapture" design of the Cruiser provides a good fit for the "girls" as she refers to them as, she wanted to keep the PFD even though its relatively light on the flotation.

We decided to just keep her in the Stohlquist Cruiser but we have added some "crotch straps" for more confidence that the PFD would probably stay securely on her in the event of a violent swim given the flotation is likely plenty enough to at least occasionally surface her long enough to get another lung full of air while she attempts to swim out. Unfortunately....or fortunately... she hasn't swam anything big recently so we've not yet been able to test this but we think the crotch straps have saved the day. I have also added a set of crotch straps to my Extrasport Swiftwater so now we are both ready for the big swims!
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