A Life Vest, or Personal Flotation Device (PFD), is one of the most important safety items to have with you when kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddle boarding. Coast Guard regulations require that all boaters have a life jacket on board. A PFD increases survival time in the water, first by keeping you afloat without wasting energy, and second by keeping you warm. Do not paddle without an approved PFD that fits properly.
Just like there’s no one kayak that fits every paddler, the same can be said for PFD’s. You want to make sure you find the vest that fits you, and the type of paddling you’ll be doing. We stock vests designed for all types of paddling: recreational, touring, whitewater, fishing, and paddle boarding. We even have PFD’s for your dogs!
Keep in mind when being fitted for a PFD, you may not always be wearing the same thickness of clothing as you are on the day you buy the vest. You want to make sure that your vest can expand enough to accommodate heavier layers that you’ll be wearing on cooler days, while still being snug enough on days when you may just be wearing your bathing suit.
A PFD should fit snugly. If it’s too loose it won’t provide proper floatation. We check the fit by having you put on the PFD and tightening all straps and closing the zippers. Then you raise your arms above your head and we do the “tug test.” We tug on the vest at the shoulders, trying to get it over your head. If it moves freely and almost comes off, or if the main zipper touches your nose, it’s too big. The procedure is the same for fitting children’s PFDs.
Investing in a PFD that fits you properly means you’ll be more likely to wear it when out paddling.