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Thread: Which BA / PFD ??

  1. #1

    Default Which BA / PFD ??

    I currently use a cheap Decathlon BA myself but would like to have something for guests so am thinking to make this the spare and get a new one for me.

    If there were a choice of three, I might be able to decide but there are thousands of the bloody things so I need to narrow things down a little. I am hoping that you wise paddlers may be able to help because I really don't know where to start.

    I'd like some pockets

    I think it ought to be able to be used to help recover my tired a battered body

    I currently paddle flat / slow stuff but would like to be able to do some bumps in the near future.

    Is there a (nearly) does it all BA ??

    Cheers in advance


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Main thing is fit, Colin, otherwise there are loads that fit your bill, including Bren's recommended one. I'd head for Whitewater Canoe centre and start trying them on. I was surprised by the difference between brands when looking for my whitewater PFD. Having decided I'd likely get a Palm Extrem, I found the fit on the Yak range just worked better for me.

    If you have true whitewater ambitions, you might want to consider whether you want to look at one with a built in "harness" for rescue purposes ("live baiting"), though I know very few people who've used them for anything other than rescue training courses, fortunately.

    I've ended up with a Ranger in green for general paddling, still has plenty of pockets. For whitewater and big open water, I have the Yak Hallertau, which also has a little more buoyancy than the Ranger. It would appear that WWCC don't do either anymore though!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Central Scotland
    Journal Entries


    As above, I went with Yak too, just seemed to sit better. Think mine were the old Kataraks great pockets but do hinder re-entry a little if you stuff them. The Yak Xipe looks tidy though, less obtrusive pockets on that one but I'd want to try it on!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014


    After a recent swim (capsizing a sailing dinghy as it happens), I have been considering looking for a BA with a crotch strap like they do with kiddies ones.

    Gentlemen with a certain build/bodyshape (perhaps one that makes them better suited to an open Canadian than a kayak, if only for the picnic carrying capacity) probably find, as I do, that they ride up a lot when relied upon for flotation. It makes a bottom strap essential in any case.

    By the time I'd swum round the end of a laser 16 in a force 5 wind then half climbed/been half dragged up onto the keel by the harness, it was putting so much pressure on my diaphragm I was having serious difficulty breathing properly.

    What you really need to do though is try a load on and see what "sticks" best. Consider upping the bouyancy level if you're considering white water, aerated water does not provide anywhere near as much upthrust.

    I'm currently using a palm FX which works pretty well, it's the best I've found so far for my body shape (which is of a big guy with a physical job but who likes more beer and food than is good for him). It has a front pocket and a rescue harness. It's an over the head fitment which some may not like. It has a central strap and a bottom strap to help stop it riding up. It is a bit bulky out front which can impede re-entry if it hooks up on the gunwale.

    I'm pretty sure my XL one has 75KN of bouyancy and even that doesn't seem quite enough for me in white water (I'm quite sinky in the water). Many BAs are 50 or 55KN.

    But yes, try them on. If you have a paddle sports convention you can go to, that's a good place. I would have tried on up to 20 different BAs before I settled on this one.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010


    One of the advantages of a canoe over a kayak is that it's much easier to adjust your clothing to the weather while afloat, so something to consider in a BA is the ability to remove it, briefly, to add or remove layers or waterproofs. Over the head BAs can be more tricky, depending on your confidence level, as you need to be 100% confident of your stability if you take your BA off.

    Pockets are very useful, particularly for things you might need if you fell out and lost contact with your boat on open water. I have a Palm Hydro - fitting a water bladder is useful for sea kayaking but I don't bother with it for canoes, it's easier just to have a water bottle in the boat.

  7. #7


    Thanks all,

    It looks like I should be looking for two then. One "touring / general" and then later one for "bubbly stuff"

    I guess I have to get down to somewhere that has a decent selection and try a few on.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006


    You should be able to find one to do both jobs unless you really like buying 'stuff'

  9. #9


    I had to go to Sunbury yesterday so on the way back, diverted to WWCC.

    A young chap helped "the old confused bloke" try on a few different floaty things. I tried a couple of over-the-head ones but decided that for the moment, I'd go for the convenience of a zipped front.

    There were maybe four or five BAs that were contenders and all the manufacturers seem to provide roughly the same features but here's where buying from a shop rather than over t'internet wins.....

    One had adjustment straps that I just couldn't reach (knackered shoulder with limited movement)
    Another had buckles that sat right on my shoulder-bone that would have made carrying a boat painful.
    Sizing is variable with one manufacturer needing me to be XXXL (cheeky b'stards)

    I ended up with a Peak Explorer Zip in about the most horribly loud, 80's shell-suit, colour scheme. !!!!!!

    Oh yeah, I also had a paddle in a SB Broadland 15 Duralite. It was fun but to be honest, I don't have enough skill/experience/finesse to know the whys, hows and whats that might make it any more useful to me than my twenty-odd-year-old boat.

    It felt about the same weight when I picked it up.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    north devon


    There are hundreds of bouyancy aids/pfd's on the market, the only way is to try on as many as you can. I have an NRS one which was designed for fly fishing and sit on top kayaks. The bouyancy on the back is high up so it does not interfere with the seat backs on sit on top kayaks, it has loads of pockets and is incredibly light. I also have a more trad touring/sea kayaking one from Reed Chillcheater. It's normally a bit of a compromise as you will never get one that does and has everything you want on it. A good comfortable fit and the right amount of bouyancy is a good place to start

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