Gear Guy

What's the best PFD for a canoe trip?

I'm planning a late spring or early summer canoe trip in southern Ontario and I need a new personal flotation device. The trip involves several portages per day, and the trip will take a week, so my new PFD needs to be light and comfortable. What should I get?

What's the best PFD for a canoe trip?

Kokatat Bahia Tour personal flotation device Photo: Courtesy of Kokatat

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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