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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 nrs.com

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?
 

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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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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.
 

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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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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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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.

Phillip
 

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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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I'll Drink to that

I'll second the NRS Big Water Guide. Comfortable.. reasonably high flotation. My girlfriend and I have used them about 3 years now. Only disadvantage... No pocket big enough to hold a drink can (unlike the much more expensive Rapid Rescuer.)
 

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I have used the NRS Big Water Guide for three or four years now. It is comfortable and unobtrusive. For now, I'll have to take others' word for it on the high flotation. I did blow out one of the pocket zippers for no good reason... But I can add my vote to the previous positive recommendations of others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WblrJW8FbgY
 

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Another vote for the NRS Big Water Guide. Very comfortable and lots of flotation, fits my...ahem... rotund shape well. good pockets and since the side are open (just straps) not too hot on those August floats.
 

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This a new High Float from Stohlquist:
Kahuna - Stohlquist

It should be available in November. It has "Graded Sizing" so the small is smaller and has less flotation than the large. We will be getting them as soon as they are available. We do also have the NRS Big Water Guide in stock.
 

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high float pfds

Thanks guys for all the suggestions. I think i have my Xmas gift figured out. A question though....how much does a high float like the big buoy or the nrs guide jacket impede your set up for doing a kayak roll? Or does it actually help?Also has anyone tried using the type 5 pfds for hardshell kayaking? Can you just velcro down the head flotation pad to the back of the jacket so it won't impede a roll??
 

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My first swim was in a garbage jacket from the 80s or something. I took on a lot of water. The first jacket I bought was a hi-float...NRS big water guide - 22lbs. It's an ok jacket. I currently wear an Extrasport B-27, but I don't think they make them anymore. It is now known as the Extrasport Ranger, which is a B-27 with a rescue belt and a couple of other add-ons. The only other jackets I know of that have more flotation are the force 6 jackets from Canada, which I have heard is what the coast guard wears. I really like the old extrasport hi-float for the increased flotation and extra coverage for more protection and warmth. The next jacket I buy will be an Extrasport Ranger.
 

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I wear a Force 6 high float for class IV and above. I have had plenty of swims in it and am always thrilled with it. Summer bloat and float class III, I go with a 16 lb one. I would never want to take a big swim with it.

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