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Frequently Asked Questions

I'm really large/heavy/big-boned. Will your PFDs float me?
If you are within the chest size chart dimensions, then a Stohlquist PFD will float you. Most adults only need between 7-12 pounds of additional buoyancy to keep their heads out of the water. Stohlquist adult PFDs provide a minimum of 15.5 pounds of buoyancy. The amount of additional buoyancy that you require depends on your body density (e.g. fat or muscle?), lung size, clothing, and water conditions (calm or aerated). As a rule of thumb, the more physically fit you are (e.g. trim and lean), the more buoyancy you need to stay afloat.


Why do some PFDs have mesh in the back?
Several types of kayaks, like Sit-On-Top kayaks have high back seats to provide extra support and comfort. Many of our recreational PFD models are specifically designed with mesh backs that position flotation elements above the "high-back" seats found in today's boats. The mesh back designs also allow for increased ventilation.


What is the best PFD for canoeing, sailing, whitewater, etc.?
The best choice for any type of paddling (or sailing) depends on the conditions you expect to face when on the water. Rescue PFDs are just as useful to canoeists as they are to kayakers. Fishing PFD's have lots of extra storage capabilities, even if you are not going fishing. Whitewater vests offer side-zip entry zippers so pockets may be maximized, and centrally located for quick access and maximum mobility. Please contact us if you have any questions, and we will be happy to help you pick a PFD that best suits your needs.


How long will a PFD last?
The USCG/Transport Canada, as well as Stohlquist, advises checking your PFD at the beginning of each season to check the degree of buoyancy remaining (and for degradation or wear). Proper treatment is the key to PFD longevity.

  • Protect your PFD from extended Ultraviolet light exposure (sun), and the extremes of hot and cold to minimize premature aging. There are many products available that may be used on the exterior of the vest to help guard against UV degradation.
  • Sitting on your PFD or stuffing it under deck rigging will ruin/compress the soft foam quickly. This can lead to premature wear or loss of buoyancy.
  • PFD models with higher denier shell fabrics are the most resilient and wear resistant. All of Stohlquist's top of the line whitewater/touring/and recreational PFDs use highly durable 500D fabrics.
  • A PFD can last you 3 months or 5-10 years depending on use. The average life of a vest, for average paddlers, is about 5 years given normal wear and care.


Does Stohlquist accept custom orders?
Unfortunately no, we cannot custom make or custom fit any of our products at this time. Some drysuit modifications (e.g. gasket sizes) are available. Please feel free to contact us at with any questions.


Pro-Sales and Sponsorship
Stohlquist is pleased to offer our products at special pricing to outdoor professionals who are actively working in the outdoor industry as guides, outfitters, or related industry employees. Please contact for more information.