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Best Women’s PFD For Kayaking

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Kayaking is awesome. Whether you’re out in the ocean, kayaking down streams, rivers, and lakes, or challenging yourself in the whitewater, you’re sure to have a wonderful experience. But you want to be safe! And one of the essential pieces of gear is going to be your Personal Flotation Device or PFD for short.

A PFD is just a technical way of saying “lifejacket.” However, today’s PFDs are nothing like the bulky, square orange jackets from the past. These ugly old life jackets definitely went for function over form. They were usually enough to make sure nobody wanted to wear them!

In today’s article, we’re going to be taking a look at personal flotation devices for women. These vary slightly from the design of men’s and children’s PFDs as they have a larger bust and often slimmer waist and shorter length.

This article is for the ladies! Let’s dive right on in with the Best Women’s PFD For Kayaking, the Stolquist Cruiser.


Best Women’s PFD For Kayaking

Preview
Top Choice!
Stohlquist Women's Cruiser Lifejacket (PFD)-PowderBlue-Plus
Runner-Up
Old Town Solitude Women's Life Jacket (Silver, S/M)
Budget Pick
Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket, Violet Medium/Large
Name
Stolquist Cruiser
Old Town Solitude
Stolquist Escape
Price on Amazon
$119.95
$159.99
$61.18
Top Choice!
Preview
Stohlquist Women's Cruiser Lifejacket (PFD)-PowderBlue-Plus
Name
Stolquist Cruiser
Price on Amazon
$119.95
View on Amazon
Runner-Up
Preview
Old Town Solitude Women's Life Jacket (Silver, S/M)
Name
Old Town Solitude
Price on Amazon
$159.99
View on Amazon
Budget Pick
Preview
Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket, Violet Medium/Large
Name
Stolquist Escape
Price on Amazon
$61.18
View on Amazon

Our Top Pick: Stohlquist Cruiser Women’s Personal Flotation Device PFD

Stohlquist Cruiser Women’s Personal Flotation Device PFD

Key Points at a Glance

  • 400 Denier nylon shell
  • 200 Denier oxford interior lining
  • Type III USCG Certified
  • Heavy-duty #10 zipper and non-corroding zip
  • Ergonomic torso design and Graded Fitting to ensure a perfect fit
  • Reflective lining by 3M on front and back sides
  • Ventilated padding.
  • 2 Large pockets and extra accessory clips.

The Details

Stohlquist Cruiser Women’s Personal Flotation Device PFD

Stohlquist has been producing high-quality lifejackets and flotation devices since 1977, making them one of the more established brands on the market. This women’s PFD is loaded to the teeth with features that make it one of the best overall options on the market.

First, let’s take a look at the fabric. The outer layer is made from super-high-quality, thick 400 Denier Nylon that’s designed to be resistant to tears and abrasion from sand, sticks, or even your dog jumping up on you.

The inner side is lined with a 200 Denier soft oxford fabric that’s designed to feel soft and padded, making it especially comfortable for sports like wakeboarding and waterskiing that may result in a lot of falls!

This life jacket is specially designed for women and features extra padding around the bust to ensure a padded fit. Extra cross-supports keep the jacket in-place so that you’ll never have to worry bout it riding up on you and causing discomfort.

The best part? It’s not even that expensive compared to some of the other bigger name brands out there and offers even higher quality. This is a high-quality PFD that you’ll be able to rely on for years.

This is the Best Womens PFD for Kayaking.

Stohlquist Women's Cruiser Lifejacket (PFD)-PowderBlue-Plus
  • Cordura nylon shell
  • Graded sizing
  • WRAPTURE shaped torso
  • Cross chest cinch
  • 3M reflective accents

Our Runner Up: Old Town Solitude Women’s Life Jacket

Old Town Solitude Women's Life Jacket

Key Points at a Glance

  • Features Old Town’s innovative AirComfort system
  • USCG Certified Type III jacket
  • Features 2 extra-large pockets and gear clips
  • Mesh and gel-lined back for added comfort
  • Fleece-lined hand-warming pockets
  • High-back design

The Details

Old Town Solitude Women's Life Jacket

Old Town has been making gear since 1898, meaning that they’ve been around over 3 times longer than their competitor Stohlquist. The company’s Solitude women’s PFD costs about the same as the Cruiser that we just looked at and is probably its closest competitor when it comes to overall quality.

The only reason that the Solitude didn’t make our #1 pick was that we found it to be a bit baggy. While this contributes to the jacket having a lot of extra pocket storage space, this feature makes the jacket a bit noisier and more flappy. That being said, if you are looking for extra pocket space, then this is the perfect option.

Despite its larger full-vest design, it’s very comfortable and features Old Town’s AirComfort system designed to provide perfect ventilation throughout the back, shoulders, and chest where it can often get hot.

The jacket is very comfortable for kayaking thanks to its gel-infused back pad and its high-back design that makes it perfect for paddling in the cockpit of a kayak.

Old Town Solitude Women's Life Jacket (Silver, S/M)
  • Old Town's Solitude Women's Life Jacket is...
  • Made from tough ripstop nylon, the Solitude...
  • Designed for comfort and utility, the Solitude...
  • The Solitude Women's AirComfort System provides...
  • This life jacket fits a woman's 40-inch to 46-inch...

Best Budget: Stohlquist Women’s Escape PFD

Stohlquist Women's Escape PFD

Key Points at a Glance

  • Fully adjustable design for a perfect fit
  • Front-buckling waist belt for a snug fit
  • 1 Small zippered storage pocket
  • Low-profile design
  • 200 Denier oxford and nylon shell

The Details

Stohlquist Women's Escape PFD

If you’re looking for a women’s PFD that’s under $100, then Stohlquist’s Escape is the perfect option for those looking for a more Spartan design. The Escape has a smaller profile than the Cruiser model that we reviewed as our top-pick. Instead of having 2 large pockets, this model only has 1 small-sized pocket that’s good for a snack or keys, but not much else.

Despite its smaller size and lower price point, though, it sacrifices very little quality. The only difference between fabrics is that the Escape has a lighter-weight 200 Denier oxford and nylon fabric.

It’s versatile and can be fitted to size as all of the shoulder, side, and bust measurements can be adjusted for a perfectly snug fit.

Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket, Violet Medium/Large
  • Super-soft, low-profile buoyancy foam for body...
  • Contoured inner chest panels, graded sizing,...
  • Full-length front zipper, efficient forward pull...
  • Waist belt with a quick-release buckle, roomy...
  • US Coast Guard Certification by the Underwriters...

Best High Back: NRS Women’s Zoya Mesh Back PFD

NRS Women's Zoya Mesh Back PFD

Key Points at a Glance

  • 2 Large zippered pockets
  • Soft foam panels in the bust for maximum comfort
  • High-back flotation device
  • Open sides for added airflow
  • USCG Type III lifejacket certification

The Details

Depending on the type of kayak that you have, the NRS Zoya personal flotation device is one of the top-sellers on the market. While it’s not limited to kayakers, the Zoya features a back flotation pad that’s closer to the upper shoulders and neckline. This makes it so that it doesn’t interfere when you’re sitting in a deep-seated, closed-in kayak.

Apart from its innovative flotation design, the Zoya is a lot like other common women’s PFDs. It has 2 zippered pockets for easy storage, is designed with high-Denier nylon, and features a soft, conforming foam design designed to give your bust maximum comfort.

NRS Women's Zoya Kayak Lifejacket (PFD) (Red, X-Large/XX-Large)
  • 400 denier ripstop nylon fabric construction is...
  • The high-back flotation accommodates most...
  • Supple foam panels in the chest comfortably mold...
  • Two sleek, zippered pockets offer easy access to...
  • Features a lash tab and 3M reflective accents for...

Best Low Profile: NRS Ninja PFD For Women

NRS Ninja PFD For Women

Key Points at a Glance

  • Ultra-low-profile design
  • Features a clamshell-type pocket on the front
  • AirMesh breathable fabric on shoulder straps and inner lining
  • The side-entry design makes it easy to put on and take off
  • Features 6 adjustment points for a great fit

The Details

NRS Ninja PFD For Women

If you’re the type of kayaker who doesn’t like to be hindered with large pockets and a heavy vest that limits their movement, then the NRS Ninja women’s PFD is going to be your best option.

It’s one of the only ultra-low-profile PFDs that we were able to find designed for women and only weighs 1.3kg so you’ll barely even notice that it’s on you.

The Ninja features open shoulders that make it perfect for high-speed kayaking as you’ll never have to worry about any shoulder pad chafing or your vest restricting your range of motion!


Womens PFD For Kayaking Buyer’s Guide

Apart from the obvious benefit of giving you more safety and security if the worst happens, wearing a personal flotation device (or at least having 1 per person on your vessel) is also the law in many places.

Depending on the state that you live in, many locations require you to actively wear a lifejacket or just have one on board depending on the situation. Most states also require that all people under the age of 18 wear a lifejacket while in the water.

Whether you’re on a folding kayak, with a friend in a two-person inflatable kayak, or even solo on a tandem kayak, having proper flotation is key!

PFDs range from cheap and affordable to expensive and high-tech, but the choice is really up to you. Just keep in mind that if you’re kayaking then you’re going to be moving around a lot in your PFD. This is especially true if you’re fishing in a kayak.

Buying a PFD that fits well, conforms to your form, and has good ventilation is the best way to ensure that you’re never in discomfort while paddling. 

Important Features to Consider

Here are some of the more important features that you should be looking at while shopping for the best women’s PFD. 

Low-Profile PFD Vs. Full-Vest PFD

Low-profile PFDs are legally-compliant but can’t support as much weight, and often sacrifice storage space. However, they do get in your way less.

The main advantage of full-vests is that they provide more support and extra pocket storage. 

Fabric Denier

If you’re going to be kayaking in rougher situations like the ocean or whitewater, then you’ll want to get a thicker Denier fabric for maximum durability. 

Color

Aside from style, color also plays a role in safety. Should you ever capsize and be left drifting in the water, bright colors are easier for emergency officials to spot while searching. 

Storage Pockets

If you’re a “pockets person” then getting a full-vest with the extra pocket space will certainly help prevent clutter in your kayak. Take an inventory of the items that you’ll most likely be carrying with you on board. 

Breathability

Nylon and other water-resistant fabrics are known for their lack of breathability. Therefore, it’s important that you select a PFD that has a built-in system (such as mesh vents) that are designed to keep you cool by allowing airflow to enter the vest. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are two of the most commonly asked questions that we’ve seen. 

Are Personal Flotation Devices Unisex?

There have been a lot of people who have questioned whether or not personal flotation devices are unisex or not. Yes, a woman could fit into a men’s vest and vice-versa (as long as they have similar size).

But women’s PFDs are designed to conform to specific aspects of the female torso, just as men’s vests are designed to accommodate statistically wider shoulders and torso. 

What Is U.S. Coast Guard Certification and PFD Type?

Most personal flotation devices are designated as Type III by the U.S. Coast Guard, meaning that they provide around 16 pounds of buoyancy which is good for calm waters. They do not, however, feature a design that keeps your head face-up should you become unconscious. These designs tend to severely limit mobility and are better for emergency applications.


Other Products We Looked At:

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

Onyx is another low-profile women’s PFD. While it’s not quite as lowkey as the NRS Ninja, it is around 20% cheaper depending on where you buy it. This is mostly due to the fact that Onyx is a newer company and doesn’t quite have the long-standing reputation of competitors like NRS or Stohlquist.

That being said, the MoveVent is a great PFD for kayakers looking for a jacket that will provide them a nice balance between security and an open range of movement.

It’s made out of moderate-grade 200 Denier nylon, features several gear clips, and has a small storage pocket that’s good for a pair of keys or some jewelry.

Key Points at a Glance

  • 200 Denier rip-resistant nylon
  • 1 small storage pocket
  • Reflective lining on both sides
Sale
Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest, Purple, M/L
Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest, Purple, M/L
Soft, lightweight flotation foam; Mesh in lower back fits high back seats; Attached whistle for safety
−$24.16 $55.83

NRS Women’s Siren Kayak Lifejacket PFD

NRS Women's Siren Kayak Lifejacket PFD

If you’re looking for a PFD that provides an ultra-snug fit with a moderate profile, then NRS’s attractive Siren lifejacket is an excellent option. It’s slightly cheaper than some of the other women’s PFDs we’ve reviewed so far, but it’s designed with all of the top innovations from the NRS team.

It features a side-entry buckle that makes it quick and easy to remove and put on and has a single large front pocket that’s suitable for a small snack, phone, kayak fishfinder, or a large set of keys.

Its slim-fitting profile helps to reduce drag, so it’s a good choice for high-speed watersports as well as kayaking.

Key Points at a Glance

  • 1 Large zippered pocket
  • Side-buckle entry point
  • Ultra-snug fit
NRS Women's Siren Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)-Black-XL/XXL
NRS Women's Siren Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)-Black-XL/XXL
USCG Approved: Type III; Flotation / Buoyancy: 16.5lbs; Closure: side buckle; Pockets: 1 zippered front
$117.95

Conclusion

From full-vests to low-profile cuts, we’ve done our best to show you some of the top sellers on the market. All of the vests reviewed in this article feature 4.5 or 5-star reviews and have a reputation of quality to back them up.

The only thing that you need to do is to figure out exactly the type of PFD that’s most comfortable for you!

Stohlquist Women's Cruiser Lifejacket (PFD)-PowderBlue-Plus
Stohlquist Women's Cruiser Lifejacket (PFD)-PowderBlue-Plus
Cordura nylon shell; Graded sizing; WRAPTURE shaped torso; Cross chest cinch; 3M reflective accents
$119.95