Lifejackets (PFDs) are not the bulky, smelly and uncomfortable apparatus they used to be. A USCG Type III PFD is used for kayaking. They are lightweight, comfortable and come in snazzy bright, easy to see colors for the purpose of safety.
Kayak PFD’s are designed with a shorter waist length which makes for more comfortable paddling.
The USCG suggests to: “spend some extra money for a higher-quality model. It will have softer foam, a more comfortable fit and improved adjustability. Make sure the lifejacket adjusts easily and fits snugly over clothing worn for different weather conditions. Few universal-sized lifejackets fit as well as models sized small, medium, large, extra large and extra extra large. Check the length of the jacket to make sure that it fits while you are paddling. A jacket which hits the backrest in a kayak with each stroke will get annoying by the end of the day”.
It’s worth noting that Type III PFDs will not keep a head upright in an event where the person is unconscious.
Here’s what to look for . . .
– USCG Type III or V rated tag.
– Don’t buy it if there isn’t a tag
– It should fit snug but leave room to paddle.
– It should have adjustable waist and shoulder straps.
– Pockets – not required, but a helpful feature.
US Coat Guard approved inflatable PFDs are authorized for use on recreational boats by persons over 16 years of age. Per the USCG, inflatable PFDs may be more comfortable to wear – require the user to pay careful attention to the condition of the device – must have a full cylinder and all status indications on the inflator must be green or the device is NOT serviceable, and does NOT satisfy the requirement to carry PFDs.
There is a breaking-in period for a PFD, but the right one should feel pretty good the first time you wear it.
A tip here . . . When you purchase your PFD, don’t throw the “care” tag away. Put it someplace you’ll remember, you will need it for the manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning and care, later in the season.
Finally – (this can’t be stressed enough). . . WEAR IT.
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