There are many types of PFD's (personnel flotation device) on the market. I have my own preference as to which type of PFD suits me and the type of paddling I do.
Pockets are necessary for me, whether just touring or playing in the big stuff. I always have at least one camera in the pocket as well as my Cat41s telephone and some small snacks. The new YAK Xipe60 has improved from the last model with better adjusting straps at the side.
A high cut PFD is better for winter paddling as the foam to aid in flotation also acts as isolation and the more of the upper body covered the warmer I am.
I also prefer the type of jacket that gives my shoulders and arms as much freedom as possible especially in more demanding conditions.
Another large plus for the YAK Xipe60 is the back hydration pocket. I have paddled several half marathons and carrying plenty of water is essential. After losing two drink flasks from my deck on one particular marathon, I had a large problem close to the end, (water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink) with only one kilometre to go I needed to contact the nearest control boat for water. Since then I have always used hydration packs.
A quality PFD is essential for your own safety.
Click above for external link to YAK PFD's