PFD Review Category

Choosing The Right PFD For You – Feel Comfortable & Safe

Not sure how to choose the right PFD?  Here’s a simple walk-through to highlight some PFD features and their purposes!


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Kokatat Maximus PFD

Kokatat Maximus PFD review!

Kokatat Maximus PFD

Kokatat Maximus PFD

The Kokatat Maximus is my first PFD and so far I’ve loved it. I bought it with the intention of only running whitewater, but thus far I’ve used it in a wide spectrum of water and have been pleased with the results. The Maximus has been easy to adjust, and it’s extremely comfortable. The neoprene shoulder straps allow for easy paddling and maneuverability. Also, the side entry feature negates the problems people have with the front zipper. It’s sleek without a lot of add-ons so it’s mostly recommended for short trips, but the Maximus PFD does allow lots of extra attachments for longer trips. So if you’re looking for a lightweight, comfortable, and affordable life jacket, the Kokatat Maximus is a great choice.

Zachary Ellis

Get one for yourself HERE!

NRS Zen rescue PFD

by Andrew Romanelli

I recently purchased a new rescue PFD: the NRS Zen, and I’m happy to report that it is awesome!

Price: $189.95.  This is a premium Type V PFD for under $200!  There is always another piece of gear that I need/want, and the affordable price tag on this vest is helping me save up for a new paddle.

Comfort: Check.  The Zen is oozing with features that make it comfortable.  Being a side-entry, there is very little strap adjustment when putting my vest on.  Three straps on either side help dial this PFD to get a great fit.  A small and convenient feature of the Zen is the colored buckles for securing the vest.  Some PFDs can get confusing about which buckle goes where, but the Zen’s black-gray-black colored buckles make sure you get the dots connected correctly the first time.  But that’s not all:  Adjustable shoulder straps!  That’s right, folks.  You can get this PFD to rest lower on your torso than many other rescue vests.  Are you looking for other comfy features?  How about a fleece-lined panel to keep your hands warm?  SOLD.

Pockets: Simple, yet substantial.  One spacious, center pocket on the front panel houses all kinds of bits.  Whether you are stashing a camera, keys, and chap stick or CPR mask, Sam splint, and radio, this front pocket has you covered.  Behind the Primaloft-lined front panel is an expandable sleeve which is a great place for your prussic loops.

Standards: 17.5 lbs of buoyancy, 500-denier Cordura shell, well-placed lash tab for knife, strobe attachment on back, quick-release belt, and a low-profile, high-mobility cut.  Another unique thing about this vest is the near-universal fit.  Unlike most other jackets, the only difference between sizes is the strap length.  Coming in at a whopping 145lbs, I can securely adjust a Lg/Xl Zen to get the same fit as my Sm/Md.  What does this mean for you?  There is a Zen that will fit you.  No need to worry about being in between sizes (which is often an issue for me).


I am excited to add this comfortable piece of rescue gear to my paddling kit.  The NRS Zen is about to see some serious miles on rivers, lakes, and coastal adventures!  This rescue PFD is definitely worth taking a look at.  Call us at 503-285-0464 to make sure we have one for you to try on!

Kokatat Maximus Prime Rescue PFD

The Maximus Prime PFD from Kokatat is a bold new vest that is chocked full of innovations and features for whitewater kayakers and sea kayakers alike.  The comfort, fit and range of motion provided by the Maximus Prime is by far the best of any Kokatat PFD I’ve ever worn and rivals that of anything else on the market today.  The Prime’s extra wide (and padded!) shoulder straps stay out of your way but still let you feel secure wearing this vest, and the innovative front foam paneling provides a tremendous amount of adjustability and range of motion.  The Maximus Prime does a great job of walking the line between a low-profile, comfortable fit and having enough substance to keep you afloat and to make you feel protected on the water.  The floatation feels as though it’s in the right spots, despite having a generous amount of foam this vest doesn’t feel bulky at all.  A generously sized chest pocket allows you to bring some small accessories on the water with you, and a handy stash pouch on the inside of the chest panel is a great spot to stow your short range tow tether.  I loved the fact that both the chest pocket zipper and the lash tab dongle feature protective housings so you won’t get hung up when doing a reentry in conditions (the fabric guard over the knife tab is especially nice, I have lost several rescue knives in the past because they got hung up on something and came flying off my vest).  For sea kayakers that use a VHF radio, Kokatat offers an accessory pouch that attaches securely to the chest panel that is specifically designed for the Maximus Prime.  Over all I absolutely love the platform this PFD is built on, and it hits the mark on almost all of the details as well.  At 6’2” 230 lbs and a broad shouldered frame, the M/L Maximus fit me perfectly even over base layers and a drysuit.  Check out this PFD on the racks at Alder Creek this spring and get comfy in a PFD that is as much function as it is form.

-Dave Trageser

Astral Sea Wolf PFD Review


Product Review: Astral SeaWolf

Astral Buoyancy Company has a well earned reputation for pushing the limits of design and for building some of the most stylish, comfortable and functional PFDs on the market today.  With the introduction of the Sea Wolf PFD for 2012, it’s fair to say that Astral has exceeded even their lofty standards.  Based off of the insanely comfortable and adjustable Willis platform and featuring the same foam tectonics technology, the Sea Wolf delivers more style and features for paddlers of all stripes in a package that is undoubtedly the most comfortable and adjustable PFD I have ever worn.  The biggest improvement that the Sea Wolf brings to the table is its ample chest pocket with dual zippers, which provides plenty of room to store smaller accessories without being obtrusive or interfering with the sleek lines of this stylish PFD.  The Sea Wolf features a lightweight yet durable ripstop nylon outer fabric as well as a crafty fleece lined hand warmer pouch which is great for those colder days on the water.  Whether you plan on styling the surf zone, shredding the river or just enjoying a relaxing day on your local flat water run, the Sea Wolf from Astral is a fine choice for any occasion.

-Dave Trageser

Types of PFD and Fitting a PFD

This short video looks at several styles of PFD that range from fishing PFD, recreational PFD, sea kayak touring PFD, and white water rescue PFD. Many people call PFD’s a life vest. While life vest is a general excepted term the proper descriptive name is Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe in Portland Oregon offers a wide range of PFD’s. Feel free to give us a call at 503.285.0464 open everyday.

Astral GreenJacket Rescue PFD is Here!

by Shawn Altman

The Green Jacket is here in the Pacific NorthWest! What a great looking PFD. A few of the AlderCreek’s staff has had a chance to try out the vest. Paul Kuthe, programs director for Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, mentioned a few of his favorite features of the vest. The first thing Paul noticed was the addition of a second pocket for the tow system. Now there are pockets for the tow on the left or right side depending on what hand you want to work with. This allows for a second pocket to be used for additional gear and extra items.

Buy the GreenJacket

The next feature that Paul noticed was the Big Front Pocket with Velcro and Snap. We all agree that this Velcro and Snap feature is nice because sand and grit will not interfere with opening the pocket. A zipper can be hard to open when full of sand from surfing at the beach.  This makes the closure system less likely to break, which is a plus. A big pocket in the front provides plenty of room for a VHF which makes this a great PFD even for the Sea Kayaker. This is a fantastic vest that should be around for awhile. Astral is doing a great job at creating what the public wants and we can see this in the Astral GreenJacket.

Astral Green Jacket Press Release:

For Immediate Release
Date: 11/7/08

Asheville, NC – The Astral Buoyancy Company officially announced that the new Greenjacket has been approved by the US Coast Guard. This highly anticipated whitewater rescue jacket continues Astral’s legacy of producing truly innovative and environmentally considerate buoyancy products for the core market. Originally slated for release in Spring 2008, the testing process had been extended until October when the jacket passed as a pullover entry. Today the final paperwork arrived at Astral’s Asheville, NC headquarters.

The Greenjacket is the successor to Astral’s popular Aquavest 300 and Wonderpro series, and is designed on the platform of Foam Tectonics where the front buoyancy panels are split into two parts. This separation enables the paddler to have unrestricted freedom of movement as well as the ability to customize the height of the front panel. The Greenjacket is offered in three size options, providing an excellent fit to both women and men. The Greenjacket provides increased back protection over previous models and Astral’s signature safety features like an integrated throwbag pocket and spectra safety loop.

Philip Curry, owner of Astral ecstatically commented that “November 4, 2008 will be a day we happily remember for a long time, the Coast Guard finally approved our kickass new rescue jacket, and the people of USA chose Barack Obama our next president.”

The Greenjacket is constructed without toxic PVC and carcinogenic neoprene. All excess raw materials are recycled.

For additional information on the Astral Buoyancy Company visit Astral’s Website