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PFDs For Paddler

Old 05-17-2020, 09:01 AM
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Default PFDs For Paddler

Our data tells us that wearing a PFD is the single most important thing we can do to enhance our safety. When I am asked which PFD I recommend, my answer is always "the one that you will wear."

Generally speaking, the greater the level of flotation a PFD provides, the lower the level of comfort. Most of us try to strike the ideal balance between comfort and an acceptable level of protection for the area in which we operate. A paddler on a 10 acre lake can probably make do with a different device than someone who paddles offshore. The whitewater paddler will very likely end up with a different device altogether.

Interestingly, discussions about which one to use can become passionate. I like that because it tells me that paddlers are taking their safety seriously. I am going to post some line item considerations, post some photos, then open up the discussion.

The best PFD is one that you will wear.
Match the level of protection to the level of risk.
PFDs need to fit and be adjusted for the intended wearer.
PFDs are required to be in good and serviceable condition.
If you need your PFD, there's a strong chance you will need to be located. Bright colors, lights, whistles and mirrors in a PFD pocket can make a lifesaving difference.
Non-swimmers should use an inherently buoyant device.

More details can be found here. https://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/life-jacket-wear-wearing-your-life-jacket.php

Look at the photos of a pouch style manual inflatable, a belt style manual inflatable and a traditional type 3 automatic inflatable. What do you see? Look at the two inherently buoyant type 3 devices. Which one would you rather be wearing if you were in need of rescue on a large body of water? Notice the design of the paddle sports specific PFD.
It allows greater freedom of movement. Why would vessel registration or the name of the owner be a good idea on a PFD?

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Old 07-16-2020, 07:07 AM
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as someone who has paddled in the great lakes, the Atlantic, the Gulf and numerous rivers and inland lakes, I always recommend the bottom style for those in kayaks.
the hard part as you mention, is getting them to understand when the kayak goes over you actually will not have time to find it or get it out of the bungies and then put it on.

better to have it on at all times.
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:21 PM
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Default PFDs

When I was looking for a comfortable PFD with good freedom of movement for Kajaking, everybody recommended the Astral V8, especially for hot weather. With, for some reason, this Covid thing sparking interest in the Outdoors, everyone was out of them and would not be re-stocking for several months. So I went out looking for for an inexpensive PFD to get by with in the meantime. I ended up with the Stearns Infinity Series. This has to be the best $20 Type III CG Approved PFD on the market. Regardless of price, it is just a good PFD. It is comfortable (You forget you have it on), it fits well, it has 4 buckles that engage and disengage easily, looks like it would give good flotation and amazingly, is good to paddle in, no bulkiness and no arm rub. So if you need an inexpensive PFD for boating or even paddling, a loner or outfitting a power boat with a number of PFDFs, you can not go wrong with the Stearns Infinity Series. Unless the Stearns is unbearably hot in the Summer, I am seriously considering not buying the Astral V8, $129
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Old 03-01-2021, 05:39 AM
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NRS Otto Matik it ain't cheap but you don't know you are wearing it: https://www.nrs.com/product/40081.01...inflatable-pfd
Old 03-02-2021, 02:33 PM
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I almost always wear my waist belt style both when canoe/yaking or hunting in waders. I wear it so much I keep my good leatherman Attached to it all year long.
I wear a full auto/manual vest when on anything faster than my jonboat.
Old 03-27-2021, 08:14 PM
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For me I always think the biggest floatiest thing you have near you is the kayak.
Self rescue is probably the best lifesaving thing you can do.
I found that inflatable PFD's hinder you getting back into the yak.
I would always advocate one of the 'hard' type PFDs to enable getting back in easily enough


Some practice with a buddy
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Old 03-31-2021, 05:16 AM
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Here is a perfect example of why the inflatable PFD may not be the best bet to wear on a Kayak. As you can see the PFD is hindering his ability to self-rescue. It surely keeps his head out of the water but it looks like it severely reduces his mobility.


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