Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Best PFD for a woman with a short torso?

I'm 4'11", 115 pounds, and need a PFD for kayaking. I do flatwater paddling, ponds and quiet streams. I am not at all tall, and what height I have is in my legs. Can someone recommend the best PFD for someone my size and shape? I see that some of the PFDs for women mention they are good for the short-waisted. The PFDs I've tried, even if they a good fit around my torso, tend to ride up and rub against my chin; very annoying.

7 Replies


Thanks for reaching out!

This is a challenging one so we appreciate your patience in advance as we track down someone who may have some experience and knowledge in PFDs that may work for you. We'll be sure to circle back with you here in the community when we have more info.


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @nicepace Keeping in mind that there is no one answer to this question, it comes down to trying on a PFD and if possible to sit in a kayak when you do so. With that said, two PFD's I have had good luck with for short torso paddlers are the Astral YTV, and the NRS Ninja. Both are low profile PFD's made by great companies. 

The PFD riding up can also be an indicator of a PFD that is too loose. Here is an REI expert advice article on how to choose, and fit a PFD.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

If its riding up, its probably not snug enough. Possibly at your size, if you have a high seat back it might be getting pushed.

Snug it up and try again.

If it is not a kayak specific PFD with the back flotation high on the shoulder, try one of those.

If it is a PFD with the back flotation high and it is still hitting.... Dont lean back, sit up straighter with your body over your hips which is actually the proper position that is better for the shoulders anyway and you get a better stroke from the core..... Get a low back band and retro fit the boat.

If you're still looking, I am the same size as you.  I did a virtual appointment with REI and got some recommendations.  I bought three and for now I'm going with the Stohlquist Flo.  REI has a generous return policy so I can try it out.  The REI person said to keep on checking back to see what comes into inventory for XS.


Unless you are flat chested, definitely try a woman-specific pfd.  It changed my life to get one with room for breasts. 

I currently have a Kokotet Msfit and an Astral Layla which both fit well (I'm 5'4" ) but probably those models are more beefy than you need for the kind of paddling you do.  The Astral Linda looks to me like it's worth a try. 


Depending on your weight and chest size, a pfd for an older kid might be an idea worth looking into. You'd have to check your weight against the floatation specs but it could work.

I'm partial to the NRS Ninja. The nice thing about it is that its low profile so gives you freedom to move.

Which ever pfd you ultimately choose, make sure it's properly adjusted and fitted. If you're not sure how, I expect the folks at REI can help or any paddling shop.

Found Myself Outside

Good day, 

My sister is almost your size, 5'0" and about 115pounds. She is using a Salus Ungava for kayaking and loves it. Fits her perfectly.