Let’s talk about safety first. If you’re new to paddle boarding and kayaking, it’s only essential to find a personal floating device to help you in times of trouble.
Unfortunately, it’s not one-size-fits-all.
There are different factors which affect your choice of the best PFD for SUP and kayaking.
Size, comfort, and even price are just some of the more important considerations.
We’ll help you out with choosing the right one for you.
QUICK ANSWERS: Best Life Vest For Paddle Boarding
|ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest||$$|
|MTI Adventurer Headwater High Buoyancy PFD Life Jacket||$$|
|Astral Buoyancy YTV Life Jacket||$$|
|NRS Ninja PFD||$$|
PFD for SUP and Kayaking Reviews
1. ONYX MoveVent Curve: Paddle Sports Life Vest – Affordable Option for The Casual Paddleboarder
This is for everyone who’s looking for budget life vest which still gives a good punch. But it doesn’t look cheap for the most part. It’s just perfect for a casual paddler looking for a decent PFD.
The design which comes with MoveVent has been specially sculpted. It gives you the assurance of freedom for paddling without any concerns. The company has maximized its venting to focus on giving you a cooler feel to the PFD. If you’re out for a couple of hours, it’s a great vest for keeping you in place.
ONYX has been approved by U.S Coast Guard assuring you with safety. Also, it comes with a flotation foam too. At the back of the vest, it comes with a bubble foam.
The shoulder straps of this product are pretty comfortable as it uses neoprene pads. Conveniently, you’ll find its side belts adjustable as well to fit your body frame.
2. MTI Adventurer Headwater High Buoyancy PFD Life Jacket – It’s Not Cheap, But It Will Take You Far
When compared to the previous product on the list, it clearly isn’t cheap. But since this is your life we’re talking about, spending a few dollars more doesn’t hurt.
While it works for recreational paddlers, this fits more for people who are extremists and want to go on a risky adventure. This fills in its responsibilities for dealing with rough waters.
It’s made to fit your body like a glove. At the side of the vest, you’ll notice that it’s a bit low – this gives you the freedom for your arm. It doesn’t get in the way at all. In terms of securing the PFD, this is really fast and simple. With only a single action of fastening, you’ll be able to get the straps done. It gives you the liberty of doing quick adjustments.
Counting the numbers, it gives you 8 places where you can adjust the vest. It means no matter what your form is, you’re given a custom fit. At the front, there are 4 pockets intended for storage.
To give you a boost of convenience, it comes with 2 hand-warmer pockets. These are all fleece-lined. It doesn’t matter whether it is day or night time, the nylon construction and its reflective design give you the higher chance of being seen when in an accident.
3. Astral Buoyancy YTV Life Jacket – A Good Balance Between Price and Value – Our Best Choice
The price is right in between the other two. It isn’t cheap nor is it expensive. If there’s one thing we can all agree on is that it’s a good value for money.
If you’re into the minimalist look, this is for you. It’s pretty lightweight and sports a clean and neat style. For the price, it gives you a bit more features than usual. Giving you a Torso Lock feature is only one of them. You’re not being compensated with the room for your arm, but it’s more than enough. Taking it off and putting it back is pretty easy as well.
As for the Nylon material that’s being used is pretty nice. In fact, you’ll like how the weight is lighter than that to a Cordura. Rip Stop Nylon doesn’t absorb water as well, but you’ll feel secure with this one.
You’ll notice that the waist belt is built-in at the bottom unlike most PFD’s in the market, but it does give you extra length. What I really like is that it’s free from any PVC material at a hundred percent.
I can honestly say that among the list here, this is the best one yet. Especially if you’re going to consider the price and its performance. It’s an awesome safety jacket that gives off a pretty neat look.
4. NRS Ninja PFD – Innovative Design For Total Control
If there’s one thing I like about Ninja PFD is its innovative design. It highlights total control and freedom. It doesn’t give you a hard time when you’re kayaking and SUP. However, it’s not the only thing it’s intended for.
This is the right fit for someone who likes to look at other water-based sports. Of course, this includes rowing and sailing as well. At the side, you’re given 4 side adjustment; at the shoulders, there are two.
NRS gives you the time to tinker around the vest to get the fit you’re looking for. You’ll like how it has a floating front panel and it also comes with the purpose of fitting into your body shape right away. When you release the buckles, it lets you have an easy time of putting it off or on as you wish. It’s pretty light – it’s as if they have similar weight than Astral.
This is made out of 500-denier Cordura which means it’s a highly durable vest and is able to endure wear and tear.
Overall, you should be at peace of mind with NRS Ninja. It may not make you feel like a ninja, but it’s pretty strong.
The Importance of Wearing a Life Vest
Accidents happen. Human as we all are, we don’t have superpowers that make us invincible to deaths and injuries. Even if you consider yourself as a professional kayaker or paddler, it doesn’t hurt to be safe.
If you’re especially new to water sports, being careful and taking extra measures are what’s expected from you. If you aren’t convinced, let’s talk about statistics. Let’s go back to the year where I first got interested in kayaking and paddling.
Back in 2013, I was informed that the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics (I know, their name is pretty long) has some pretty troublesome news. Apparently, in the year, there were 560 boating deaths…
…and their cause of death isn’t because they were fighting the Great White Shark either. 77% of the people involved simply died because they drowned. Okay, I know it isn’t heroic. If I had to choose the cause of my own death, I’m sure as hell I don’t want it to die of drowning.
I’d rather sacrifice my life to live on Mars for the rest of my lifespan for scientific purposes. Or maybe become a test subject for human experimentation to get super cool powers.
When they went in for further investigation, they found out that 84% of enthusiasts aren’t wearing any personal floating device. The Coast Guard considers the kayak, paddleboards, and much more as vessels. Currently, they carry on specific safety regulations.
From what we can gather from the information above, we can safely say: If you don’t want to die. Wear one. I’ll explain further on this matter for all you stubborn people, just chill for a while.
*As it should. Or else there would be no point.*
I know we aren’t really the smartest creature alive. But at least we eventually learned from our mistakes.
From what we have used before, Kaplok to Balsa Wood, we then created something more convenient. Life jackets were finally started being constructed from foam. When World War II erupt, servicemen were given life jackets. Alright, people. These guys were professionals, they were trained for combat and survival, YET they wore Mae Wests.
If you didn’t know, that’s what they call an inflatable foam before. Sounds cool, right? But going back to the jackets’ importance, if trained military men were being careful enough. Why shouldn’t you be?
At that time, the early developers thought of making their jackets more compact. They wanted more people to appreciate its functionality and performance. As time continues, designs are now made more compact. And as we speak, there are tons of comfortable jackets to choose from. Of course, these are with better designs and style.
I can’t imagine paddle boarding wearing the same jacket as what the people in Titanic did.
Reasons To Wear Them
Even though the makers decided to make a better version of the old ones, there are still hardheaded kids and adults who refuse to wear life jackets.
Here are why you should start appreciating them and start wearing one.
They have SAVED lives
…and will continue to save more. Think of it as this way, having a life jacket is like having a helping hand reach out to you when you’re hanging on a cliff. If you don’t reach out, you’re still going to die.
What I’m trying to say is that they’re ALWAYS there. They don’t have the ability to force you to chase after you and force you to wear them. But you do have the power to turn them down. Let’s crunch the numbers once again, shall we? Prior to the year of 2013, deaths were all over the place. People still are stubborn to wear them even then. Here’s a recap of what happened.
There were at least 459 people who drowned. ONLY 71 people bother to wear a life jacket. 103 people had trauma, ONLY 35 had them on. Cardiac arrest victimized 29 people, ONLY 10 people bothered. Hypothermia, 5 out of 11 people had worn them.
It’s unfortunate to say that not even HALF of the people were wearing live vests. It bothers me to see how neglected life jackets are even up until now.
“Weather is FINE, you worry too much”
I get it, it’s a beautiful day out. The sun is shining, the clouds are clear, and the birds are happily chirping. But I don’t know where you got the idea that only the weather is a factor. HELLO! Earth to whoever you are, weather can only affect so much. But just like everything in this world, it’s more complicated than you think it is.
Even if we’re just going to rely on weather, we’ll never know when there’s a sudden change. Hey, even the weatherman gets wrong sometimes. It’s not like he’s a god or something. As a matter of fact, the weather hasn’t caused much of the bigger accidents.
Here are some things you need to take into consideration as well:
Operator inattention has caused accidents in the run of a year. I’ll be basing the statistics below from the year 2012. There were about 581 accidents which occurred.
As for the concern with operator inexperience, there was about 417 misshapen which set throughout 2012. But that’s not all, people’s carelessness or improper lookout has affected the journey with 291 accidents.
The machine itself isn’t safe, no matter how many times it has been checked by the crew when you’re on waters, anything can happen. This has caused up to 346 accidents. And finally, whether it may be on the water or land, it’s never safe to speed up beyond the standard. This caused 310 accidents.
With these events that took place, I’m pretty sure the weather has nothing do with it, right. It’s always better to assume the worst case scenario so you could prevent it and take action accordingly.
“I’m An Awesome Swimmer”
Yeah, sure you are. But can you swim better than I can? You probably can. I suck at swimming. However, that doesn’t give you the right to overestimate your ability.
Even if you are Michael Phelps himself. Well…maybe he’s a bit different. It doesn’t change anything, though. For most of us, even if there are people who are blessed with the skill to swim like a magical dolphin. It’s different from when you’re in this scenario.
There are times where your mind plays tricks on you and you react differently than what your expectations are. You see, high levels of anxiety don’t give a beautiful effect. Your thoughts are all jumbled up, trying to let your body move in coordination while your mind is in a panic is impossible.
With the exception that you’re a ninja. Then you’ll do just fine. If not, then let me tell you about a certain study. Apparently, 2/3rds of people who drowned knew how to swim. They were, at one point, really good swimmers. All of which were found dead without wearing a life vest.
Michael Phelps, if you’re reading this, it would be best for you to wear a life jacket next time you go out kayaking or paddling.
It Keeps You Warm
Remember when I said that jackets these days just keep on improving? Here’s one of their discovery. They have made jackets that’ll work to keep up warm while we’re taking a dip in the water. Ski jackets, in a way, are ideal for people who are waiting for a boat while in water. They prevent you from being cold as ice while keeping you looking cool with its design.
If only these jackets were invented before…then Jack would’ve been alive today. Or he’d be dead due to old age. Either way, we’d get a happy ending out of the movie at least.
Life Jackets are for Everyone
When I say everyone, it means age doesn’t matter. Just because you’re above the age of 21, you’re already immune to death himself. Well, no.
If anything, statistics have pointed out that you’re more likely to die as you get older (I’m not talking about health concerns and age) even if you’re in the prime of life. Just take a look at this: Out of every five people who dies from drowning, there is at least one child who’s a victim. Well, kids who are at the age of 14 and below.
That only leaves us to the 4 people who died which are adults. It doesn’t look lame, adults. It looks pretty sporty – so WEAR one no matter what.
Alcohol Isn’t Cool
Have you ever heard of the famous line “don’t drink and drive”? It’s the same with boating. More like, “Don’t drink and boat.” I know it sounds stupid, but like I said, we aren’t really the smartest creatures alive.
Apparently, there are accidents related to this one. There are people who are casually enjoying their summer vacation on their boat while drinking alcohol. And then here comes the accident. Once they’ve had too much to drink, they start doing foolish things. If people on land who’s drunk manage to hurt themselves in their homes, just imagine what they can do when at sea.
DNR people, amusingly enough, have found people who fell out of their boats due to their unstable state of mind. Wearing a life jacket before you start acting silly keeps you afloat in the water.
Things can happen when you’re in the middle of a ship wreck. For one, something could knock you out unconscious. In an unfavorable scenario, your face could be in the water. Seeing that you’re unconscious, you can’t do anything but to wait for your death. What’s even worse if that you don’t even know that you’re about to die.
You can’t think of happy thoughts…like being a ghost and spying on Brad Pitt. But luckily, investing on smartly made jackets can save you. There are now brands which let you face-up when you’re at sea.
2 Important Buying Considerations
Check these tips out to help you with purchasing your very own PFD:
Make Sure It Fits
Bluntly said, it’s going to be useless when it doesn’t fit your body frame. This is the first thing you should check out before anything else. When the time comes that accidents happen, you’ll be able to float properly on water.
In order to get the right fit, you’ll have to do several checkups on vests. You have to loosen all the straps before you can put it on. After which, the adjustment straps should be tightened accordingly.
Next step is pull up the straps that are around on shoulder. Try to think of what will happen when in water and stimulate the situation.
The moment that the life jacket goes up, it’s not a good fit. It’s going to be dangerous in water. Move on to the next one until you’ve found your match.
You can check the comfortability of the jacket by kneeling down and pretend you’re paddling. If you’re doing a full stroke and you’re at ease, it’s already a good indication. Also, chafing shouldn’t be happening.
These PFDs are able to save your life thru displacing water. Basically, it speaks volumes. The more they’re able to displace, the more abundant their buoyancy is.
Make sure that the lifejacket has been approved. It means it has reached the standards, it’s a lot safer that way. However, depending on where you plan to go, you can always go a little bit higher.
When you’re being faced with bubbly water, it doesn’t have much density. It means you’ll drown deeper. It’s the same with fresh water, it comes with lesser density than ocean waters.