How to Kayak for Beginners – Basic Kayak Paddle Strokes

Welcome back for the second installment in my series of How to Kayak for Beginners.

In this article we are going to dive into the mechanics of paddling your kayak.

When I got started I just jumped in and wore my arms plumb out. So, let me save you, if I can, and show you some basic strokes needed to get you going.

Proper Holding of the Paddle

Lets start with holding the paddle. I hope you have decided on the right paddle for you and are ready to roll. If you haven’t head over to my post “Choose the Right Kayak Paddle” for some helpful information.

Before we can start stroking, we have to hold the paddle properly and in the right position. Sit-up straight, yes, posture is important! Check out the first post in this series for this information.

There are basically four things we want to consider when preparing to start paddling.

  1. The type of paddle blades you have
  2. The orientation of those blades
  3. Where you grip the shaft of your paddle
  4. And relaxing your grip on the shaft

Are the blades matched (parallel) or feathered? It will be easier to learn with matched blades. You should be able to adjust the to be so on most paddles.

Do you have Asymmetrical (one side is shorter than the other) or Symmetrical blades? You can learn with either style, it is just good to know what you have.

Are the blades concave (curved)? This is typically yes, so make sure to pay attention to where the curve is when you grab the shaft of your paddle. They should be curved towards you.

For proper orientation or position of your blades, pick up your paddle and hold it out in front of you. Look for a couple of things.

First, your knuckles should be up and the edge of the blades should be perpendicular to the ground.

Second, the shorter side of your blade should be on the bottom. If you have symmetrical blades, not a concern.

Third, you want the concave side of both blades facing you.

The Paddler’s Box

Now we are going to adjust where we grab the paddle along the shaft.

Take the paddle and place it on the top of your head, holding it on both sides. Adjust your hands along the shaft so that your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and the paddle is equal on both sides. Now, without losing that 90 degree angle in your elbow, bring the paddle back out in front of you. This forms the space referred to as the Paddler’s Box.

Lastly, Relax your grip. Make a loop around the shaft with your thumb and first finger. Loosen the rest of your fingers and breath. If you keep a death grip on the paddle you will strain your hands, wrists and arms. We definitely do not want that to happen.

Before We Can Stroke

We have to get our groove right!

We are going to call this Kayak aerobics or the love handle twist, LOL

Meaning, we have to learn to use our torso or core and our legs to help power our stroke. If you depend solely on your arms, you will be exhausted and in pain by the time to return to the car.

Take a seat on the floor or in your kayak. We are going to practice our proper position and posture, and we are going to twist our upper body from the left to the right. Focus on twisting from your core (belly button).

Now with your arms out-stretched in front of you with the paddle, maintaining our Paddler’s Box, twist from your belly button to the left and hold. Do not drop your elbow. Now to the right, again, maintaining our box.

When, first starting to use this technique we can feel like we are rotating correctly when we are not. Pay attention to where your rotation is coming from. Do not just rotate your shoulders. You want to focus on rotating from your belly button.

Set Up For Forward Motion

Now we are ready to move into the most fundamental stroke and mostly used stroke.

The Forward Stroke is just that. It is the stroke that moves us forward, hopefully in a straight line through the water. I say hopefully straight, because until you get the hang of it, you will find yourself zigzagging across the lake. Yes, I know this from experience, LOL.

The Forward Stroke starts at the front of your kayak. Using your torso rotation technique, place the paddle into the water just above your feet. Keeping your paddler’s box, rotate your torso the other direction pulling the paddle through the water parallel to the kayak. When your hand reaches about your hip, slice the paddle up out of the water. This will set you up for the next stroke on the other side.

Maintain the upright sitting position and focus on the energy from your torso. The upper hand should stay at about eye level throughout the 3 phases of the stroke. The first phase or Catch Phase is when the paddle first enters the water at the front of the kayak. The second phase or Power Phase is when the paddle slides through the water along the side of the boat. Lastly, the Release Phase is the point at which you pull the paddle out of the water.

Mastering this stroke will have you cruising through the water and on your way to adventure.

Wait a Minute

What if I need to slow down, stop or back off the beach?

Then we are going to use the Reverse Stroke. This stroke is virtually the same as the forward stroke, only you are going to start with putting the blade of your paddle into the water behind you. So, do the same thing as when you went forward, but start the stroke from behind your hip.

Keeping the submerged blade parallel to the boat, rotate your torso pushing the paddle forward to your feet. Remove the blade from the water at this point.

We are going to use the same torso rotation technique and always keep your paddler’s box intact. Proper position and posture will help to keep you balanced and centered.

The Sweep Stroke

This stroke is meant to help you change direction or turn your kayak.

Same fundamentally as the Forward stroke. Except instead of keeping the blade next to the kayak and vertical to the water, we are going to keep it low and horizontal. Imagine the paddle is coming out of your chest. Rotate towards the front of the kayak, place the blade in the water up by your feet and sweep it in a wide arc back towards the stern of the boat.

The result should be a gradual turning of the kayak. If you need to turn more, then repeat on the same side of the kayak till you are where you need to be.

Last but not Least

Is the Draw Stroke. This stroke is used to move the kayak sideways, like up to a dock or another kayak.

You start this stroke by placing the blade in the water off to your side and draw towards the kayak. The key to this stroke is to stop about 2-3 inches away from the boat. To recover the blade from the water turn your wrist enough to slice the blade back and out of the water.

If you don’t, it could result in an unwanted swim. If the blade gets to close to the boat under water, the momentum of your stroke could drag it under the boat, throwing you off balance. If this happens, Let Go with your upper hand and release the pressure.

We Are Stroking Now

So, today we learned about the Paddler’s Box, our Love Handle Twist or Torso Rotation, The Forward Stroke, The Reverse Stroke, The Sweep Stroke and finally the Draw Stroke. I know it’s a lot to take in. The most important part is to relax and breath and have fun. The rest will come with practice.

Thank you for joining me on the second installment of How to Kayak for Beginners. If you have any questions, comments or input, please leave it below.

Until next time!

How to Kayak for Beginners – Position and Proper Posture

Welcome to my first installment of How to Kayak for Beginners.

This is going to be a series of articles designed to help your grasp the fundamentals of kayaking. Folks, we are going to Kayak school!

Importance of Proper Posture

Lets talk posture.

Per the Merriam – Webster Dictionary: Posture means – the position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose. states that Posture is the way your position your body and arrange your limbs.

Back in the day, and some of your know what I am talking about, we were constantly being told to stand up straight, sit up in your chair, NO slouching. Posture used to be taught in girls schools in the day of corsets. Maybe they still do, I don’t know. I do know that your can see a whole lot of people with bad posture these days. With the age of television and video games we have almost made a science out of slouching.

There are many reasons to practice good posture.

Many medical studies have shown that good posture can not only improve balance, but improve your mood and energy levels.

It also reduces your risk of injury and aches and pains. Psychology studies have shown that good posture can even help with the way people feel about themselves.

Slumping your shoulders forward can affect your breathing, as it limits the diaphragm and lung capacity. Lord knows, breathing is important.

What does this have to do with kayaking your ask?

Bad posture in a kayak will affect everything your do and how your feel when your are done.

While your may still have a few aches and pains from using muscles your haven’t used in a while, good posture will certainly improve the chances of being able to walk back to the truck or car.

Achieving Good Posture

Achieving good posture is not hard, but it is something your have to think about. It does not come naturally. Ideally we want to achieve a relaxed, comfortable position while sitting up straight and tall. Don’t forget to breathe.

If your have ever taken horse riding lessons this will bring back a whole lot of memories, LOL.

Tips for Achieving a good paddling posture

  • Have a seat either in your kayak or on the floor.
  • Place your legs out in front of your. If your are in your kayak this is a great time to adjust your foot pegs, if your can. You want them to provide your with a slight bend in your knee.
  • Now, sit up straight, imagine there is a string running from the center of your hips up through the center of your head. We want an imaginary straight line from our hips, to our shoulders, to our head.
  • Now, Breathe and allow yourself to release the tension just slightly.

Now remember I stated earlier that good posture doesn’t come naturally. So, at first this may seem uncomfortable to your and your will probably have to keep reminding yourself to straighten up. That’s okay, your can practice this anywhere and everywhere. In an office chair, at the dinner table, on the couch. You will be happy your did.

Good Posture has many benefits, as most of us know. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us have forgotten or were not taught. In a previous post of mine “Kayaking for Health Benefits” I talk about some physical benefits of kayaking. Good posture plays a big part in that.

Becoming Part of Your Kayak

How does becoming part of your kayak relate to this?

Remember when I mentioned those foot rests? Well, those foot rest, whether they are adjustable or if your kayak has molded foot rest provide an important connection point to your boat.

What do I mean about connection point?

These are the points in your kayak where parts of your body make a connection to the kayak. The basic connection points, depending on your kayak, are:

  • Your butt or seat
  • Your back
  • Your Hips
  • Your Thighs
  • Your Feet

All of these connection points play a different role in maintaining correct position and posture, as well as, control of your kayak. Each connection point provides a different form of support to help your maintain your posture and position, no matter the circumstances your encounter.

With Posture there is Position

Position in the kayak is important. Certainly, we know to sit in the middle of the seat to avoid flipping over, but there is more to it than that. You want to be comfortable as well as effective with your position.

There are 3 basic paddling positions

  • The Forward Position
  • The Central or Neutral Position
  • The Backward Position

The Forward position is achieved by sitting straight up, relaxed and slightly forward. This allows your to remove the weight off of the stern of the kayak.

The Central or Neutral position is where your sit straight up, relaxed and remain in the center of the seat. This is the position we will primarily use while floating on flat water, or calm waters.

The Backward position is going to be the opposite of the Forward position and allows your to remove the weight off of the front of the kayak.

With all three positions, posture is key and vital to coming off the float trip feeling good.

What Did We Learn?

We learned that Posture is key to everything we do and is vital to functioning effectively in a kayak. It sounds like such a small thing, but if your have ever played any sports or done any kind of dance, then your know how important posture can be. While posture is key, position is vital in helping your to maintain that posture.

Now I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert by any means. Through my research this is an article to help you be the best your can be while in your kayak.

I hope that it was helpful and interesting. Please leave your comments below and if your have any knowledge to add, please do. Thanks for visiting and come back for number 2 in the series of “How to Kayak for Beginners” for more fun stuff.

Until next time!

My First Kayak Adventure – how I fell in love with kayaking

You have heard a bit of my story, but my first kayak adventure is where I really fell in love with kayaking.

Getting Started

Okay, so let me paint the picture for you.

It was an absolutely beautiful day here in the Ozarks. The sky was mostly blue with a few clouds lingering in the distance. The sun was warming things up and the lake was pretty calm. Now, I was staying in an RV park right on Lake Taneycomo in Branson, Missouri. Lake Taneycomo, also known as the White River is not overly wide, but it is very cold and is used by a lot of fishermen in fast boats.

Anyway, I pulled my beautiful, red Ascend D10T kayak out from under the camper for the first time since bringing her home. I got her loaded with my paddle. At this point I didn’t have my dry bag or my wheels yet, but my husband was home to help me get her to the water. I had my life jacket in the boat all ready to go. I should also say, that in my excitement, I totally forgot my water bottle and snacks.

Getting Past My Fear

Now, my nerves kicked in. You see, being a 50-ish yr. old female with an adventurous heart does not mean we do not get a little anxious at times about doing something new.

Even though I spent most of my childhood and early adult years fishing, hiking, out on pontoon boats and floating down small rivers in inner tubes with the kids, I had never been on a kayak, much less on a body of water with speeding boats by myself in a tiny boat. This was new territory for me. Too say that I was a bit nervous is an understatement. But, I was determined to make it happen.

I wasn’t sure how I would handle the boats throwing waves at me or how well I would handle being out there alone. It kind of made my heart skip a beat. Not kidding!

Down to the Water

So, now that the boat was loaded and I got my nerves in check, down to the water we went. I grabbed the front of the kayak and my husband grabbed the back. 65 lbs doesn’t sound like a lot, until you add 10 ft of length and 50 yds too it. Holy cow, that boat was a task to get to the lake. Anyway, we set her on the rocky beach area on the bank of the lake and I put my life jacket on. We are set!

Well, not so much. Now I had to figure out how to get into the boat without tipping that puppy over. Thankfully, my kayak is a sit-on top style of kayak. I am not so sure getting on or into the boat that first trip would have gone so smoothly if I had had to climb into it. I stepped into the water, HOLY CRAP, that water was cold! Lake Taneycomo is roughly 45 -50 degrees year-round, the trout like it that way. So, holding onto the kayak, freezing my toes off, I backed-up to the side and lowered myself onto the seat. Yeah, who are we kidding, it wasn’t quite that smooth, LOL. I flopped into the seat, thankfully, without flipping the kayak and it’s contents into the cold water.

I am now sitting in the boat, feet in the water, trying to figure out how I am going to gracefully swing my legs over the side, past the paddle, and get myself adjusted into the seat without providing entertainment to the men fishing off the dock about 20 ft away. Oh, and they were watching! One leg, then the other followed over the edge. Let’s just say that at that moment, I realized that maybe yoga should be in my future. I still haven’t started that.

I got settled, without flipping, and sat there with the boat stuck on the rocks. Now my husband had already walked back up to the camper, so I ran through my head all the scenes of me trying to get the boat unstuck, LOL. Again, without providing the guys on the dock entertainment.

Finally, after many pushes with the paddle, rocking my body weight and a few waves from a passing boat, I was full on floating! Yay, I was on my way.

Learning To Paddle

Okay, paddling is a whole other story. While paddling in and of itself is not complicated, paddling effectively and efficiently without soaking yourself can be a challenge. My paddle came with these little round objects made of foam to divert the majority of the water that runs down the paddle shaft. For the most part they do a pretty good job. I am not sure I can explain how to paddle really to get you to be effective. I am still working on it myself, but I managed to make it work well enough to get me moving. You have to find a paddle that is going to work with you as far as weight, length and style for sure. When I figure it out, I will let you know.

Getting The Hang Of It!

While my first adventure out on the lake was primarily to prove to myself that I could do it, it became so much more. I finally got the hang of paddling and headed across the lake into a small waterway called Turkey Creek. I knew it would be calmer and easier to get acquainted with my abilities and my kayak. As I entered the mouth of Turkey Creek, low and behold the first thing I encountered was a snake. Guess I didn’t think about that much when I got started. Not afraid of snakes generally, but I certainly do not want any accompanying me in the kayak.

As I paddled further, I realized how silent it was. I could here the birds, the turtles didn’t dive off the logs for cover and I could even see the fish in the clear water. It was AMAZING! As a photographer and nature lover I could so see the potential for some great shots in the future. I was really getting the hang of slowly moving through the water and I was even pretty comfortable adjusting my seat. My kayak is really stable in the water, so I soon lost my fear of flipping. I also lost total track of time!

When I did finally look at my phone, I noticed I had been out on the lake for about 2 hours. Time sure flies when you are having fun. Not to mention, I was getting a little hungry and thirsty.

So, I headed back to the campground beach, where I started my small adventure. I made relatively good time getting back and when I neared the beach, it dawned on me that I had to get out of the kayak. Yes, I had to figure out how I was going to get out of the boat without flipping and getting everything wet!

So I paddled to the beach and flipped the boat around so I could back into the beach. My theory was, if I beached the heavier end of the kayak, then I would also be in shallower water to step out in. Yeah, totally didn’t think about the fact that I had been sitting on my butt, legs stretched out in front of me for over 2 hours. I don’t know about you all, but when I sit on the couch or in a chair too long, sometimes it is hard to stand up and start walking. I am usually a little stiff and have to give myself a moment.

Well, sitting in a kayak for a couple hours takes that to a whole new level if you are not conditioned to it. Needless to say, the exit out of the boat was not as graceful as the loading of the boat, LOL. I swung my legs over the side. Got, what I thought was, my balance and stood up. The kayak floated sideways, I hit a rock with my foot and SPLASH! Yep, down I went. Didn’t flip the boat, just got a little wetter than planned. Again, 45-50 degrees, even on a hot day is flipping cold!

At The End of the Adventure

After my short adventure on the lake, and my not so graceful exit from the kayak, I called the husband to come down and help me haul the kayak home. I swear, that 65 lb.,10 ft kayak now weighed 150 lbs and was 14 ft long. Who knew that paddling, what I thought was a leisurely pace, would turn your arms into pudding. But boy oh boy, did I fall in love with kayaking, and I couldn’t wait for my next day off to do it again!

I hope you all enjoyed my little story of my first kayak adventure. I look forward to sharing more of my adventures with you guys. So, find me on Facebook at and watch for updates and other fun stuff.

Thanks for joining me here and sharing my kayaking journey. Tell me about your kayak adventures, either below in the comments or on Facebook. Would love to hear all about them.

Until Next Time!

Ascend Kayak Accessories – What Do They Offer

Okay, we have talked about Ascend kayaks, so Let’s see what Ascend kayak accessories are out there to trick them out. Cause you know you want the goodies and bling!

Basic Accessories

These are the accessories I think you just need to get you through the float trip.

The first is the paddle, of course! Ascend does have a couple of choices for paddles. In my post about how to pick the proper paddle I give you a chart on how to decide what will work for you. Here I will provide a link to the Ascend paddles. I have the Ascend Trek Paddle. It seems to work pretty good for me. It is a two piece paddle which makes it easy to store and transport. The Trek has a durable rubber coated aluminum shaft and fiberglass-reinforced nylon blades and weighs about 2.6 pounds. The Trek also comes in 3 different lengths.

Ascend also has the Tournament Paddle which is a fiberglass shaft, which makes it a little lighter. The Trek also has the fiberglass-reinforced nylon blades, but this one sports a handy hook for lure retrieval for those anglers out there. This comes in 6 different lengths, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding one that works.

Second is the Dry Bag. I spoke about my Ascend dry bag in a previous post. I love my lime green bag. It is plenty big enough for the important things, such as my phone, camera and snacks. Mine is a heavy-duty bag, but they also come in a bright orange light-weight material w/ a window, so you can see what you packed in it.

Third, you need to be able to transport your kayak to the water. So, you are going to need a rack on your car, unless you have a truck or trailer, and you are going to need to get it from your vehicle to the lake or river. I have a truck so I do not need the car rack. But, getting it to the water from the truck by myself can be a challenge. So I have the Ascend sit-on top kayak cart. I will say, that while it is easier to pull to the water once the wheels are on, it is no easy task to get these wheels on or off. Ascend does offer another version though, and I think I am going to try them when I get a chance.

Fourth is a Life Jacket. I am only going to shortly mention the Ascend life jackets here cause I did a post recently about life jackets that I like much better. Ascend does have a few options, and I currently have what they call a universal, one size fits most, type PFD. I do not care for it, and their life jackets fit on the small side. I tried on the womens largest size and couldn’t get it zipped.

So, those are the basic must-haves in the Ascend choices.

Fishing Accessories

These accessories are some options by Ascend to get you on the road to fishing from your kayak. While I know that there are a lot of options out there, we are going to focus on what Ascend has to offer in this post.

First, you are going to want an anchor. Ascend offers an Anchor Trolley Kit. I personally have this kit and plan on adding it to my kayak this spring. I fished many times last year, and trying to fish and maintain my position in the water was exhausting. So, the anchor kit is going on.

All the Ascend fishing kayaks come standard with flush-mounted pole holders. Ascend doesn’t offer much in the line of fishing pole holders that you can add-on.

The last accessory for fishing in the Ascend line is this awesome Ascend Fish Ruler Decal. It is made of a heavy-duty laminated vinyl. Just stick it to your kayak and let the fish stories begin!

Replacement Accessories

Ascend does provide a few replacement accessories. The first of those is the Scupper plugs. You know you are going to lose those things a few times, Just saying! These are for the sit-on top models of kayaks for the self bailing scupper holes. Your kayak will come with what you need and you can replace as you lose them. They typically come in a 2 pack.

Next, you can also get replacement open base cleats. My kayak did not have these on it standard, but some do. I am looking at getting some to add to my kayak just for functionality.

You can also get a replacement seat for the sit-on top D10T. I will say, that while it has decent reviews on the Bass Pro site, I am looking for something a little more comfortable for mine.

Lastly, you can get deck bungee kits by Ascend. This kit comes with everything you will need and easy to follow instructions to replace or add a bungee system to your kayak. It’s good to be able to fix stuff, cause Let’s face it, Life Happens.

Fun Accessories

I’m going to get a little off topic here, because Ascend just hasn’t gotten on the band wagon of fun stuff yet. I know that blinging out the kayak is just a must. There are lots of options out there to make your kayak yours. Whether you are looking for fishing stuff, like fishing crates, fishing nets, pole holders, electronics, etc., or if you are looking for safety items such as flags, reflectors or lights. I even know a guy that painted some crazy faces on the front of his kayaks. How fun would that be. I will do another post about some of these other fun accessories later, so look for that in the future.

Ascend is a wrap!

So, there you have it. There is the line of Ascend products that you can utilize for your kayaking needs and some of your wants. I hope that you found this post useful and if you purchase any of these goodies. Please, let me know what you think. Good or bad, I want to know. I will update this post when I get my anchor trolley kit in place and tell you what I think.

Ascend Fishing Kayaks – What You Need to Know

Let’s take a look at the Ascend Fishing Kayaks primarily sold at Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas. In this article we are going to focus on the 12′ kayaks. I discussed the 10′ FS10 model in a previous post.

Why Ascend

Why Ascend you ask? Well, cause that is what I have. LOL

Also, the reason I am discussing the Ascends when there are so many other options out there, is due to the fact that they are not incredibly expensive and you can find them easily at any Bass Pro Shop or Cabelas. They are also an American made product, which I do like to promote.

While, you will find mixed reviews on these products all over the internet, this is my opinion on what I found. I used several resources such as, YouTube, Bass Pro’s website, I went personally to the store and checked them out and like I said. I own an Ascend product myself.

Ascend 128T Sit-on Top

The 128T is the tank of the fishing kayak world. Many referred to it as their barge. It is 12′-8″ in length with a weight capacity of 350lbs. It weighs in at 96lbs. I will say that is quite heavy and large. For someone like me that usually goes kayaking alone, this kayak would be hard to manage without help. I do like the look of it and after watching many videos it seems many that own this boat really like it.

  • Rotomolded custom-crafted tunnel hull
  • Durability, standing & fishing stability, and tracking
  • Comes with Yak-power system, wiring harness, master controller & 3 strategically placed plugs
  • Flat casting deck w/non-skid foam mat & pull-up assist strap
  • Deluxe removable, adjustable seating system and adjustable foot rests.
  • Port and starboard accessory mounting rails

This boat also offers several storage options throughout the kayak. It includes no less than 4 flush-mounted pole holders and it has a removable rod-tip protector for those clumsy folks like me. The 128T also comes with bungees and scupper plugs for the 8 scupper drains. It has carrying handles on the bow and stern. I will say that many have added handles on the sides to help with transport.

Overall, this kayak was well liked, very customizable for your personal needs and is a stable boat for the price point.

Ascend 12T Sit-on Top

This kayak did not rate as well as the 128T. It is 8″ shorter and has a weight capacity of 350lbs and is only about 77lbs. That in my opinion is not enough, based on the reviews to convince me to spend the money on this kayak. With that said, let us look at the basics of this kayak.

Some Basic selling points as mentioned on the Bass Pro website are as follows.

    • Some selling points as mentioned on the Bass Pro website are as follows.

      • Rotomolded custom-crafted tunnel hull
      • Durability, standing & fishing stability and tracking
      • Flat-casting deck w/non-skid foam mat
      • Many storage options
      • Port and starboard accessory mounting rails
      • Deluxe removable seating system
      • Large stern tank well w/D-rings & recessed stern storage w/bungees
      • Bow & stern carrying handles

Again, this kayak offers flush-mounted pole holders and paddle storage. It has 6 scupper drains and plugs just like the 128T. I will say though, that this kayak is priced just under what you pay for the 128T and the value is less as well. After doing the research, there were some that said that the material of this kayak was thin and they wore holes in them by dragging them to the water and back to their vehicles. There were several that complained about asymmetrical hulls, which affected the tracking and that they were hard to stand on.

Now, with all the complaints I found, there were a few that really liked the kayak. Any of the complaints could have been from misuse or poor care of the kayak and/or just a poor batch from the manufacturer. If it were me, I would personally spend the extra dollars and upgrade to the 128T.

Ascend H12 Sit-in Hybrid

So, this kayak had the best reviews of all three of the kayaks to date. This kayak is a hybrid version. It gives you the best of both the kayak and the canoe. This kayak is 12′ long, has a weight capacity of 450lbs and weighs in at 76lbs. Again, not a light-weight kayak, but given its purpose not terrible.

Some basic selling points as mentioned on Bass Pros website are as follows.

      • Hybrid tunnel style advanced hull design
      • Multi-purpose open deck design
      • Extra large cock-pit 53.5″ x 23.5′
      • Accessory rails, bow hatch and bow bungee hold downs
      • Adjustable foot braces
      • Soft storage saddle bags and a soft storage backpack on the seat.
      • Expandable mesh stern cargo cover
      • Threaded-sealed drain plug’

Again, with kayak the reviews were good. They really liked the space, stability and versatility of this kayak. They also sell a compatible duck hunting blind accessory that will work on this kayak. The biggest complaint I found was that it is a slow kayak and that if you are trying to go backwards and a wave comes up behind you it could take on water pretty quickly. Not sure this boat is meant to run any races anyways and by golly, watch what you are doing and I think you would be fine. I personally think it would be a fun kayak if you were into photography, hunting, fishing or just meandering around the lake.

There You Have It!

That is my opinion on the Ascend Fishing Kayaks. I hope this helps if you are looking at these models of kayaks. I do not think they are bad for the person looking to get into the sport of kayaking fishing and looking to just have some fun with it. I know that mine is a fun kayak to just get out on the water in. It has its faults and could be improved, but I also feel that for the price point these are great boats. If you have any opinions of your own or any comments please leave them below. I would love to hear them.

Ascend Dry Bags – The Lime Green Wonder

Hey guys, Let me tell you about one of my favorite kayaking accessories. I love Ascend dry bags.

Why Ascend

I know that there a lot of different brands of dry bags on the market. I’ll be honest, I have not used any other bag. My Ascend bag is a Heavy Duty, lime green bag. With a capacity of 10L’s and it is plenty big enough for my needs.

Ascend makes 4 basic sizes in their heavy-duty line. All are made of a thick, heavy-duty waterproof PVC material and sport electronic-welded construction on all the seams. These bags also have a roll-top design with quick release buckles to ensure the contents of the bag stay dry, as well as a built in D-ring for connecting to the kayak in case of flip overs. They are built tough for those rough rides. They do make a medium duty and a light duty bag as well. I chose the heavy-duty just for extra assurance.

Here are the specs on the heavy-duty line of bags.

10 L

Rolled/sealed size: 8” x 12”/20 x 35 cm

Rolled/sealed capacity: 610 cu in/10 L

20 L

Rolled/sealed size: 10” x 15”/25.5 x 38 cm

Rolled/sealed capacity: 1,220 cu in/20 L

30 L

Rolled/sealed size: 11” x 19”/28 x 48 cm

Rolled/sealed capacity: 1,830 cu in/30 L

55 L

Rolled/sealed size: 13” x 25”/33 x 63.5 cm

Rolled/sealed capacity: 3,356 cu in/55 L

Why A Dry Bag?

The answer is pretty obvious as to why we would want a dry bag. To keep your stuff dry, of course. I certainly would not trust my camera gear or my phone to a Ziploc baggy.

Even on a short day trip there are certain things you want to keep dry. You may even want more than one bag, depending on what kind of trip you are planning on taking. You could also use the dry bags to hold wet items, so you are not mixing them in with the dry stuff. The options are unlimited.

What’s In It?

You can put anything you want into your dry bag.

My dry bag typically has my phone, my camera and sometimes an extra lens for the camera, and some snacks. Okay you can’t go out on the kayak without snacks. There is nothing worse than soggy chips. I will say, if your dry bag is out in the sun, don’t put your chocolate in there. It will not make the trip.

Now, I am still working on my must have list for short trips on the kayak and I have yet to do a long trip on it. So I am sure my list will grow. Some things I can think of for sure are a towel, jacket, change of clothing, maybe even a dry pair of shoes. If you are planning on a longer trip, maybe an overnight trip. You would certainly want to keep your sleeping bag, tent, and other camping gear dry.

Maybe you have a separate bag for dirty clothes or wet clothes. That way you can keep track of them and not mix them with the good stuff.

How Do I Secure My Bag?

I have a few carabiner clips that I used to secure my bag to the kayak. They come in all sizes and strengths. You can also place them in the kayak, if you have a sit-in style kayak. You can also put them under the bungee straps that are commonly on kayaks.

Dry Bags are Important

So, why an Ascend dry bag? Well, I like the color, and the durability of my bag. I also like that I have options in weight and sizes of the bags. The price point is reasonable and I ran across some great reviews about the product. They are easy to open and close while I am on the water, and I am always pulling my camera out and putting it back. I hope you check them out and possibly add one to you stash of kayak accessories.

Let me know below in the comments if you have a dry bag and how you use yours. Thanks for joining me again.

Until next time!

Ascend Kayak Reviews – Breakdown of the 10 ft models

In this post we are going to focus on Ascend kayak reviews of their 10′-0 series of kayaks.

As I have mention in previous posts, I personally own an Ascend D10T kayak. So I will review my likes and dislikes of my personal kayak and I will break down and review a couple of their other models.

Ascend D10T

So, the Ascend D10T. Mine is a couple of years old and I have used it a handful of times.

Mine is bright red, which I love, and only comes in the one color. It is 10′-0″ in length and 34″ wide. I have only used it on Lake Taneycomo in Branson, Missouri. Originally the White River. Lots of boaters, some current due to the dam at Table Rock Lake and lots of fish. The Ascend D10T is a sit-on top style kayak and has a fairly flat bottom. This makes the boat pretty stable and I have been able to access some pretty shallow water. I have not tried to stand on the boat, as Lake Taneycomo is very cold water. It handles the boat waves really well though.

It comes with a high back adjustable seat pad. The back, when placed correctly is pretty comfortable, but I will say the seat pad is not. I am still searching for a way to make it bearable for long periods of time.

It only has one storage pocket that is supposedly waterproof, but it is not big enough for my phone, so I do not use it. I highly recommend a dry bag for stuff. There is a cup holder molded into the floor of the kayak to keep a bottle of water within easy access. It also has molded cubbies on either side of the seat, which are perfect for throwing stuff in.

The foot rests are adjustable and I do like that. The back of the kayak is flat and suitable for storing stuff and comes with an elastic bungee to keep everything secure. The D10T has a handle on the front and on the back for carrying. It does weigh in at about 65lbs, so it is much too heavy for me to lift and carry on my own.

All in all, I think that the Ascend D10T is a great first sit-on top kayak. It is easy to get on and off of. Easy to fish from, and relatively inexpensive. I do have a few modifications on mine such as a rod holder and I have wheels to get it from the truck to the water.

Ascend 10T

The next kayak we are going to look at is the Ascend 10T. This one is very similar to the D10T with a couple of distinct differences. While it is still a sit-on top at 10′-0″ in length it is only 31″ wide versus the 34″ width of the D10T. This one comes in several colors as well.

This boat also comes with a different type of Ascend seat. It is slightly raised off of the floor of the kayak with a medal frame, much like a stadium seat. Due to it being slightly narrower than the D10T, the front is slightly rounder while the back is slightly narrower. It also has the adjustable foot pegs like the D10T.

The Ascend 10T comes with the two standard carrying handles on the front and back, but it also has one on each side. This in my opinion would make it a little easier to maneuver yourself, whether you were trying to load into a truck or on a car. As well as trying to get it to the water. It is a little heavier than the D10T at 67lbs. Not sure 2 lbs would make much of a difference.

This kayak does sport two pole holders and several rings for connecting and securing stuff. It still only has the one waterproof storage hole, and the molded cup holder.

Ascend D10

This Ascend kayak is a sit-in type of kayak. It is technically only 9′-10″ in length and only 29″ wide. This in my opinion would affect the overall stability of the kayak, although, I believe it would be plenty stable for general recreational kayaking. It does come with the Ascend metal framed seat that sits into the kayak on a molded side bracket. It is the lightest of all the Ascend kayaks at only 50lbs.

This model comes with elastic paddle holders on both sides, a clip-on fabric cover on the back to keep your stuff in the kayak and possibly some water out. It also has a cup holder and two molded cubbies in the top of the front of the kayak. Easy access from the seat. The D10 also has elastic banding for securing stuff to the front and the back of the kayak. This one also sports carrying handles on the front and the back. This model also comes in two colors.

Ascend FS10

This a pretty cool Ascend model. Still, in the sit-in type and 10′-0″ length. It is 30″ wide and comes with the metal frame Ascend seat. This kayak is set up for fishing with 2 flush mount pole holders and the area behind the seat is set up for a crate or tackle box, or just to hold gear. It has the elastic banding over the back and the front for securing gear and one the sides for your paddle.

This model has a dash of sorts. Molded plastic with a cup holder, dry cubby and an open cubby ideal for small objects like lures or chapstick. It has glide rails on either side of the dash to attach accessories too, such as cameras, fish finders etc.

This is a sharp looking boat and is available in 2 different colors. In my opinion it would make a great starter kayak if you were looking to get into some fishing and flat water kayaking.

Ascend H10

This model is relatively new as it is a Hybrid of a kayak and a canoe. The body style is very canoe like in its v-shape nose and tail. Wider in to middle and a deeper cavity. This model is a single-seater with the metal framed Ascend seat that sits up off the floor.

The H10 has gear storage in the front and in the back behind the seat. Both have fabric coverings with hook fasteners to keep them closed. There are no cup holders or other molded cubbies, but you have plenty of floor space for a cooler or tackle box. It has 2 pole holders and side glide rails on either side of the boat. It also has the carrying handles on the front and back of the boat.

I believe this model would handle much like a canoe with the versatility of a kayak, how fun. It also comes in 2 basic colors and has the best weight capacity of the 10′-0″ models.

Ascend 10′ Boats all Wrapped Up

There you have it!

I believe any of these boats would make a great first boat. Just consider your purpose and how much of a boat you want to manage. Like I said earlier, mine is a little heavy for me to handle on my own, although, with some modification I manage. So, happy kayaking you all.

If any of you currently have an Ascend kayak let me know how you like it below. I would love to know.

Until next time!


Kayaking Life Vest for Women – What About Those Curves

Okay Ladies, we are going to get down and dirty with our PFDs or Personal Flotation Devices.

In my previous article we did an overview of life preservers so you could get an idea of the types and basic uses that were out there. In this article we are going to dive into a few different makers and models specifically design for us ladies. Let’s face it, we are not built like the average guy or child. We have a few extra bumps. You know what I mean?

As I researched different life vests, I decided I wanted to be a little different from most sites you run into. I don’t want to be just another review site that sends you straight to another site to just purchase the product. So, I did some reading about the companies themselves. I am not going to focus on price point in this article. While there are some cost effective options out there, I am primarily looking at comfort, quality and functionality.

So again, this is my unbiased opinion based on my personal research on the world wide web of these products. Let’s have a look.

Astral Womens Life Vests

Astral started out as a small company in Asheville, NC. They still do small production runs of certain products there as well as repairs and quality control. The mission of their company was to provide a quality product that was nature friendly. Their PFDs are PVC free and breathable. They have worked hard to be as clean and toxin-free as possible. I felt that it was important to acknowledge this.

Astral has several models of PFDs that I really liked. Their design is lady friendly, rugged, well put together and has options. My first and second choices from this manufacturer are the Astral V-Eight and the Astral V-Eight Fisher. Both are very similar in design, and are both made of the same quality materials. The V-Eight comes in 3 colors, the Fisher in only 2.

I also liked the Astral Layla. Designed for the curves of a woman. It has a side entry versus a front zipper. Comes in 2 pretty colors and built just as tough as the other Astral products. I also like that the buoyant material is an organic plant material. How cool is that?

Sizing is based on chest dimension.

XS 27″ – 31″ M/L 38″ – 44″

S/M 31″ – 37″ L/XL 45″ – 51″

These are not the cheapest jackets/vests on the market, but I felt they were quality. Many of the reviews I read, the folks that had them, had them for many, many years.

NRS (Northwest River Supplies)

NRS has an interesting story. Started in 1972 by an idealistic business professor named Bill Parks in his garage. Sound familiar? Seems lots of crazy companies have started in garages. Bill was a river runner and was drawn to rivers and the beautiful places they carried him. The company is now an employee owned and run company. It is located in Moscow, Idaho and still design all their products in house. They are passionate about preserving the waterways in which them and their customers play.

The one vest that I found by this maker was the NRS Shenook Fishing Vest. Of course, I love to fish so this appealed to me immediately. Also, created to fit womens curves, it also has plenty of extra fun stuff. It has a front zippered entry with 6 adjustment points. It even comes with a built in pole holder, Hello! Plus lots of pockets for gear. I actually went and tried one of these vest on. I required a L/XL size, but it fit wonderfully. I was able to get into it easily and tighten it up for the perfect fit. As you will see I am not a small girl, so this one rates high on my list.

My next pick from NRS would be the NRS Zoya Mesh Back PFD. Again lightweight, created with kayakers and paddlers in mind. Supple foam inserts that mold to a womans chest, front zippered entry and 6 adjustment points for great fit.

Sizing on both these vests are pretty good too. Based on chest dimension.

XS/M 30″ – 42″

L/XL 42″ – 52″

Again not the least expensive, but I was impressed with the reviews, the company story and the look. They also have other models, but these were my favorites.


We can’t talk PFD manufacturers without mentioning Stohlquist. They are everywhere. When I was researching, their PFDs were on the top of many lists and mentioned many times within the lists. The company has been around for over 40 yrs. They have designing and producing quality water ware for a long time. Started in Buena Vista, Co. near the Arkansas River by a man named Jim Stohlquist.

My pick from here was the Stohlquist Betsea. I liked that it was designed with the princess seams on the inside and out for feminine fit. I also liked that it had lined hand warmer pockets as well as two large pockets on the front for stuff. It has built-in contoured cups to hug instead of crush our extra bumps. Several adjustment points and several attachment points for extra gear.

Sizing for the Betsea are as follows.

Womens Size Bust

Petite 24″ – 30″

XS/SM 28: – 34″

M/LG 34: – 40″

Plus 40″ – 46″

Stohlquist has many options for women, and some are certainly designed for fishing as well as paddling. The price points on these vary quite a bit.

MTI Adventure Wear

Last but not least on my list. MTI short for Marine Technoligies International was founded in 1991 by the Takashinas just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. MTI is still a family owned business near the waterfront of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Owners Gordon and Lilli Colby met over 20 yrs ago and are both water babies. They both have a passion for paddle sports and nearshore sailing. That passion is what still drives this company to produce quality products.

I looked at two models of womens PFDs produced by this company. The first was the MTI Destiny Womens Life Jacket and the second was the MTI Moxie. Both are made with quality materials and design. One of the best features for me is the Bust-Adjust Fit System. I am a busty lady and it is hard to fit into a straight line jacket.

Both also provide pockets and enlarged arm holes for movement. Both had good reviews everywhere I looked as well. The sizing did differ between the two.

Moxie Sizing

XS/SM 30″ – 36″ M/LG 36″ – 46″ XL/2X 46″ – 56″

Destiny Sizing

S/M 29″ – 40″ L/XL 40″ – 48″

There You Have It!

Through my reading and research, these are the 4 companies that topped my list. These are the ones that caught my eye. I can tell you that I bought an inexpensive PDF when I got my kayak without doing any research. I was just happy to get one to zip up with me in it. Not lying, I am not a small girl. I fought with that dang thing all summer and if I can help you ladies avoid that mess, I will be a happy girl. Hope this helps you all out and I would love to know what PFDs you all have chosen, so leave me a comment and a picture so I can see.

Until Next Time You All!

Lightweight Kayaks for Women – Reduce the Hassle

Well, hello ladies. I thought this would be an interesting topic to dive into. As I am over 50 and not a weight lifter and I enjoy kayaking solo. You want to be able to transport and manage your kayak on your own. My kayak is 10ft. long and weighs about 65 lbs. It is a lot to manage on my own. So, here I am going to bring my research to you and help you make a decision based on what I share about different kayaks and their manageability.

What Did I Uncover

So, as we know from my previous post about kayak styles, there are several types of kayaks. As it turns out, there are also many weights of kayaks. Here I am going to focus  on lightweight kayaks for women and here are a few that I think would be great options for those of us that are of average build and strength. We want to be able to get our kayak to the water effectively and without killing ourselves.

While doing my research, I used many avenues. Before I get started I should say that I am going to mention a few different places where I searched for information. Everything you read will be my unbiased opinion and nothing more. I started on Amazon to begin my search for the most popular lightweight kayaks. After coming up with a decent list of the ones I thought would work really well, I then checked reviews on several levels. I looked at Walmart, Cabelas, Some product manufacturers’ and YouTube. Just to name a few.

So, for my search criteria I looked into a few things. Weight being my number one factor, I also wanted kayaks that had good weight capacity, price point and good reviews. It’s all fine to have a really light kayak, but it has to hold you up above the water, and we want it to last longer than one season.

So, let us dive into my crazy opinions and see what I came up with.

Hard Body Kayaks

So, let’s start with my first choice. The reason I chose this one first is due of the ease at which you can get it and that it had pretty good reviews. No matter where I searched, for the price, it was one of the best.

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a basic sit-in recreational kayak. Many folks on YouTube have even modified them for fishing. They can be found at two very common places, Walmart and Amazon. I am sure that you can find them in other places as well. The price points I found ranged from $245 up to $325. The average rating I found from reviews was 4.4 Stars out of 5.

Specs for the Aruba

Length: 10′-0″ Width: 30″ Weight: 40lbs. Weight Capacity: 250lbs

So, combine the facts and this made it to number one on my list. Besides, you can get it in a few colors which makes it even more fun.

The Vibe Skipjack 90 was the next one I found to be except able for the criteria I was looking for. This just has a fun name don’t you think? Beyond that it looked pretty cool too. After doing some research, I found that the average rating on this one based on reviews was about 4.8 stars out of 5. They said that it was good for Lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Again, these have also been used for fishing, This one is a sit-on style kayak with a general price point of $400 to $500.

Specs for the Vibe Skipjack 90

Length: 9′-0″ Width: 32″ Weight: 45lbs Weight Capacity: 300lbs

The Sun Dolphin Phoenix 10.4 is next in line. Again, this is a basic low price point kayak that is relatively easy to find. Like it’s smaller brother the Aruba, it is a sit-in style of kayak. The price starts generally at $220 up to around $350. Based on reviews it rates about 4.6 stars out of 5.

Specs for the Phoenix 10.4

Length: 10′-4″ Width: 32″ Weight: 45lbs Weight Capacity: 250lbs

The Malibu 9.5 Ocean Kayak Sit-on also made my list. It popped up in my first search and it intrigued me enough to warrant a closer look. It was the only one that I searched that came up with 5 out 5 stars according to the reviews I found. I looked not only on Amazon, but on the West Marine website and the manufacturers’ website. It is a little higher on the price point scale ranging from $550 to $600.

Some interesting details I came across on this kayak included, a stackable design, compact, straight tracking, great for waves and surf but also good on lakes and mild rivers. The hull was designed for stability and has a molded seat that is slightly elevated from the floor for comfort.

It just looked like a fun kayak, so I included it.

Specs for the Malibu 9.5

Length: 9′-6″ Width: 33″ Weight: 50lbs Weight Capacity: 325lbs

Fishing Kayaks

I also wanted to include a few fishing kayaks in my list. It was actually amazing to me that there were actually a few that fit my weight criteria. Now, the more stuff you mount on your kayak is ultimately going to increase that weight. So, be careful with your add ons.

First is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 120 Fishing Kayak. Again, reasonable price point ranging from $240 to $500. This kayak I found to be very popular online. The biggest complaint was the not so comfortable seat pad that comes with the kayak. General ratings per the reviews were 4.8 stars out of 5. It is a sit-on style, which makes it ideal for fishing. The general consensus of this kayak is that it tracks well, is pretty stable and has enough storage for gear.

Specs for the Lifetime Tamarack

Length: 10′-0″ Width: 31″ Weight: 52lbs Weight Capacity: 275lbs

Finally, the Emotion Guster Sit-in Angler made the list. Again a reasonable price point of $450 to $500. These can be found at Tractor Supply, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon, of course. According to the research I found, people rated it well for tracking, stability and ease of handling. I found that it ranged from 4.5 to 5 stars.

Specs for the Emotion Guster

Length: 10′-0″ Width: 30″ Weight: 49lbs Weight Capacity: 275lbs

As I mentioned before, my kayak is a 70lb kayak and I was surprised to find such great kayaks that weighed so much less than mine.

Inflatable Kayaks

Okay, we cannot talk about lightweight kayaks and not touch on some inflatable kayaks on the market. I won’t lie, I have thought about them myself, so I was kind of excited to deep a little deeper into what is out there.

The Intex Challenger K1 is the first one on the list. This one made it to first primarily due to weight and reviews. The price point on this kayak started at about $70. It is a one man kayak but it had a crazy amount of reviews and ended up with an average of 4.4 starts out of 5.

Specs for the Intex Challenger K1

Length: 9′-0″ Width: 30″ Weight: 24lbs Weight Capacity: 220lbs

The Intex Challenger K2 made number two on the list. Like it’s smaller version the K1, it had a ton of reviews and ended with a rating of about 4.2 stars out of 5. Again great price point starting at the $90 range. Now due to this being a 2 man kayak the weight capacity is higher, but if you are a solo you can take one of the seats out and have plenty of storage for gear.
Specs for the Intex Challenger K2

Length: 11′-6″ Width: 30″ Weight: 34lbs Weight Capacity: 400lbs

The last one I decided to put on this list is the Sea Eagle SE330 Pro Solo. This kayak is in a class above the previous two due to the fact that it is built to be tough. It falls in a much higher price point starting at $260. This kayak has a general rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. It is a rugged inflatable made of 33 mil. Polykrylar. It has inflatable I-beam construction and has been used for whitewater kayaking up to class III rapids. Based on reviews that I read, this kayak only takes about 6min. to inflate and is great for fishing, paddling or river running.

Specs on the Sea Eagle SE330

Length: 11′-2″ Width: 34″ Weight: 26lbs Weight Capacity: 500lb

So, while I really like the hard body kayaks myself, I am really tempted to try one of these really fun looking inflatables. I’m going to share this really cool lady, Carol Derer, I found on YouTube with you all, because, she is an example of why I did this post. Single lady, kayak and wanting something easy to manage.


It just goes to show that you can enjoy something like kayaking, even if you are not a body builder or have someone to help you pack your gear. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and found it useful. If you have any questions or comments leave them below. If I do not know the answers I certainly will do my best to find them for you.

Until Next Time!

Kayaking Life Jackets – Safety First

Kayaking is an awesome way to experience nature, get some exercise and even make new friends. It can also be a way to get hurt or worse if we do not think about safety. So in this article we are going to look at kayaking life jackets or vests, and how to choose the right one for you.

The 5 Basic Types

While the majority of us use the terms’ life jacket or life vest to encompass the entirety of PFD’s or Personal Flotation Devices. Those terms’ are not entirely accurate.

Actually the term PFD is broken down into 5 categories.

Type 1 – These are designed primarily for off shore, rough seas or open water. Think about commercial fishing boats or the coast guard when you think of these. They are designed with the thought that you are going to be in the water for longer periods of time.

Type 2 – These are designed with quick rescue in mind. Near shore, calm waters.

Type 3 – These are the most popular and ideal for folks like us. The kayakers, water skiing, fishing, etc. Similar to type 2, and designed based on quick rescue, and calmer waters. These are also designed based on the activities you will be doing.

Type 4 – Throwable PFD. These typically come in the shape of a ring or floatable cushion. I know that these were very common on my Grandpas boat when I was younger.

Type 5 – These are designed with special circumstances in mind. Such as full body for very cold water to insulate against hypothermia. These will have special classifications on their labels.

We are going to focus on Type 3, since these are the ones that are ideal for what we are doing.

What To Look Out For

When out shopping for your own PFD some key features to look out for are going to be.

  • Comfort
  • Storage
  • Entry Method
  • Durability
  • Buoyancy

Comfort is huge. You do not want to be in a kayak all day in a life jacket that is uncomfortable. I know this, cause I have experienced it myself. It does not make for a great adventure. You really need one that is going to allow you to move the way you need too. Another factor or feature within this is Ventilation. Some of these jackets can be hot, especially if you are out in the sun for hours.

Storage is something I never really thought much about. In my research though, I have discovered that most life jackets and vests come with pockets and d-rings for attaching goodies too. Some even come with a hydration bladder so you can carry drinkable water with you without the trash.

Entry method, meaning how you put it on. Some zip up the front, others slip over your head.

Durability is important. With the price of some of these things, you do not want to buy a new every week or year. Look at the material, zippers, buckles, etc.

Last but not least, Buoyancy. This is the factor that keeps your head above the water.

Standard vs Inflatable

The term Standard encompasses the most widely used life jackets and vests. They are found everywhere from Walmart, Amazon, sporting goods stores, etc. They range from the old fashion, over the head bright orange flotation devices to the more modern, fancy vests with pockets, buckles, tabs and fancy colors. They also vary in price from $10 and up. They are typically made out of nylon or neoprene and use foam as the primary float.

Pros of Standard PFDs

  • Low Maintenance
  • Inherently Buoyant
  • Versatile
  • Pockets
  • Any Price Point

Cons of Standard PFDs

  • Bulk
  • Hot

Inflatables are a relatively new item on the market compared to the standard models. They can be labeled as a Type 3 or a Type 5 depending on their design. Inflatables come in two styles, manual and automatic. Manual inflatables are just that. The wearer manually inflates the vest by pulling on a cord, which ten activates a C02 gas cartridge. The automatic model inflates when it is submerged in water.

Pros of Inflatables

  • Comfortable/Less Bulk
  • Cool

Cons of Inflatables

  • Not inherently Buoyant. They must be inflated and if you are injured or rendered unconscious, that could be a problem.
  • Requires Maintenance/Replacement of Cartridges
  • Not for Everyone, not necessarily good for all sports, where standard PFDs are interchangeable
  • Can be Pricey

Hybrid PFDs – These are a combo of standard and inflatable. You get the best of both worlds, but you are going to pay for it.

Get The Right Size

You want to make sure you get the right size. Adult Life Jackets and Vests are sized by your chest measurement not your weight. Now, if you are built like me and are a little larger in that area, it definitely makes a difference when you start shopping. Generally speaking, your larger department type stores are not going to carry gender specific jackets and vests. Most are going to be unisex and for a larger busted women, that is a challenge.

So, to get the right size, measure your chest at it’s broadest point. Then use that number along with the manufacturers size recommendations. Also, try them on. Let’s face it. How many one size fits all things really do?

Tips for getting the right fit

  • Wear the clothing you would normally wear when kayaking or eat least of similar material when shopping.
  • Try them on, tighten them up and mimic the movements you would be doing. Try paddling, twisting, sitting down on the floor if necessary.
  • Think about adjustments. The more straps, the more you can make.
  • Again, look for gender specific. Unisex may not fit as well. Ladies, remember we tend to have extra baggage and bumps. Just saying.

Test the fit

Once you have the PFD on, tighten everything up from the bottom to the shoulders, in that order. Then have someone pull up on the shoulder straps. The body of the PFD should not move. If it comes up around your chin, it’s not right. It should fit like a great pair of gloves, snug but comfortable. You do not want it slipping around causing chaffing.

Child sizing is a bit different. Just to touch on this a bit, children PFDs are sized by their weight. A typical guideline that I found in my research is this.

  • Infants – 8-30lbs
  • Child – 30-50lbs
  • Youth – 50-90lbs

Safety First!

No matter what water activity you are embarking on, safety should come first. I hope that the information that I have provided will help you make an informed decision about the right PDF for you. I would love to know how your journey is going and if you have anything to add to this, leave me a comment below.

Thanks for taking the time to read and spend some time with me.

Until next time!