You'll want a PFD that's light, comfortable, and easy to take off, since you'll probably won't want to wear it on longer portages.
I'd suggest looking for a PFD that’s trimly cut, like the MTI Reflex ($75). The Reflex is slim, designed for paddling, and has fully adjustable shoulder straps, two zippered cargo pockets, and a tough nylon shell. It’s not fancy, but it's highly effective.
Another company to check out is Kokatat, which makes cleanly designed PFDs like the Bahia Tour ($100). Kokatata gave the Bahia a big zippered chest pocket, an easy-to-grab main zipper, and generous mesh for ventilation, a bonus if you paddle mostly in hot weather. I'm also a fan of its easily adjustable straps, which help dial in the right fit. Best of all, the Bahia's back is shaped to accommodate seats, making it a great choice if you kayak, too.
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