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Gatsby Universal PFD

  • MSRP

This Product Has Been Discontinued

Gatsby Universal PFD Description

The Gatsby Universal PFD is a pfd brought to you by Stearns. Read Gatsby Universal PFD reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other pfd recommendations below or explore all pfds to find the perfect one for you!

Gatsby Universal PFD Reviews

Read reviews for the Gatsby Universal PFD by Stearns as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

I've used this PFD (it...

I've used this PFD (it used to be called the Stearns "Sans-Souci Canoe/Kayak Bouyant Vest") since 1981. It cost about $20 or so at that time (quite an investment for a 17-year old). Now, it seems like an incredible value at $37 or so (which is the price that I just found a new one for at Amazon). The vest has held up quite well during its long life.

I've used it for:
- Canoe racing
- Wilderness canoeing in Canada
- Sailing
- Fitness kayaking in a surf-ski
The vest continues to be quite comfortable. I value the mesh inner lining. I've never had the desire to take it off even when it was extremely hot/humid. This thing is darn comfortable!

The flotation above the shoulders was presumably originally intended to provide padding for portaging a canoe (i.e., the canoe's center thwart was supposed to sit on it as you carried the inverted canoe). When I tried portaging with it, I didn't find that the padding up there helped much, if at all. Frankly, when I was portaging, most of the weight of the thwart was not on the padding. This was quite some time ago (25 years) so I can't recall any further details of its portaging performance beyond that.

Why isn't it rated higher?
Well, it has no pockets. Further, it seems like all the PVC up above the shoulders is kind of wasted (i.e., doesn't provide flotation because it isn't in the water and the padding doesn't seem very useful either even when portaging). Further, it would be nice if it were better suited to being used with some sort of hydration system. Also, this thing uses closed cell foam (i.e., PVC) as flotation. Apparently producing this stuff is very rough on the environment. So it would be nice to have a PVC-free flotation, like Gaia.

But if you are looking for a great value in PFDs for paddle sports, it is difficult to imagine a better value at this time than the Stearns Gatsby vest. IF/when I replace this, my next PFD may end up being a Mocke Paddling Jacket (imported from South Africa, intended for surf-skiing).

PFD is comfortable,...

PFD is comfortable, lightweight and easy to put on. The collar rides a little too high when paddling. I can feel it around my neck and it rubs a little when I paddle. The most I've had it on was for 2 hours and it didn't cause any irritation or chafing.

Gatsby Universal PFD