PFD recommendations?


New member
I just bought an older used Lightning to use and race with my kids.  I'm looking for recommendations for PFDs for dinghy sailing that would be an upgrade from the cheap Wal-Mart PFDs that we have now.  I don't need the most state of the art expensive racing gear.  We are mostly just going to sail recreationally.  But something less bulky and confining than the ill-fitting Wal-Mart specials that we have now.

I'm kind of a big guy (5'10" and 200 lbs) so will likely need something XL.  My wife and girls are all small in the 5'1" 110 lbs range.

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I have 2 PFDs that I like and they are very different.

Stohlquist - really like this one but a little bulky for dinghies. Ultra adjustable and once set up it does not move. Because of all the adjustment points there are more chances of getting snagged on rigging and lines. But if needed in a life threatening situation, this would be my preference.

Zhik - I use this one most of the time on dinghies. Very thin and almost nothing to get caught on rigging or lines. Some models are listed as flotation aids and not USCG certified. IMHO, Zhik is probably the most popular in dinghy racing.

Go to a West Marine or similar and try on lots of models to see what is comfortable. If comfortable higher chance you will wear it and not just have it on board.

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