Prone paddling in whitewater requires specific gear to maximize the experience. For most aquatic recreation, the PFD is something that is worn if something goes wrong. You hope to not need it. For paddling a bellyak, the PFD becomes part of the user experience because it provides the interface between body and boat. Therefore, a properly fitted and comfortable PFD is a must.
There are many PFD’s that will work. Anything with a relatively flat/consistent thickness front that fits well, will function just fine. But there is one PFD that stands out above all others:
The Astral Layla
The Astral Layla is a women’s vest made to fit and support a womans body. But the flat front, kapok foam inside, and multiple ways to adjust make it just right for prone paddling. You see, a bulky vest made for kayaking may work perfectly for our upright butt-boating brethren, but we depend on our lifejacket not just for flotation, for prone paddling comfort as well.
Key Features of the Layla
- Shoulder adjustments: Finally! Someone realized that not every torso is created equally. This feature helps properly position the PFD in the perfect location for prone paddling. It also makes it an ideal vest for teaching, because this one feature alone allows it to be custom fit to a wide size range of paddlers.
- Side Zip: Another great feature. The side zip makes the vest much easier to get on and off, especially when your shoulders are sore from a long day on the river. It also helps accommodate every shape human.
- Front Pocket: Because you always need a place to store snacks/spare key/cellphone in waterproof case.
Designed for a Woman, strong enough for a man, and perfect for bellyaking!
For more on the Astral Layla and information on where to buy, check it out online: https://www.astraldesigns.com/shop/paddlesports/pfds/layla.