Best PFD for Kayaking

Looking for the best PFD to keep you safe and comfortable in the water? We have research on a number of different PFD vests available and observed how they behave underwater in different water conditions.

There are many people out there who don’t understand why it’s important for them to wear a PFD (personal floatation device). As a matter of fact, we get it that sometimes wearing a life-jacket does seem like a burden but know that a good PFD will make your life a whole lot easier at the water.

The basic purpose of a PFD is to provide you ample floatation in case you take a sudden plunge in water but the latest available PFDs come with several innovative features that are bound to add a lot to your water adventure. Even if you believe that you do not need a floatation device for your journey in water, wearing a nice PFD will make you look much more professional.

In this article, we will discuss the features and specifications of the best available kayak PFDs in the market.

Things to Consider When Buying a Kayak PFD

Most of the PFD kayaks that we mentioned in this article are Type III, however, the United States Coast Guard has a total of five different ratings for kayak PFDs. Here, we will explain each type in a little detail so that you can know more about these types and learn in what water conditions they should be used.

Couple together kayaking on the river

Type I

Type I PFDs are mostly referred to as “off-shore life jackets”. They are suitable for all water conditions including open ocean, remote water, stormy conditions, and rough seas. They offer the most buoyancy, typically 22 lbs., and can often turn unconscious people in the face-up position. They usually come in bright colors to improve visibility and provide the best protection. Type I PFDs come in both inflatable and foam-type PFDs. However, there are currently no USCG approved Type I inflatable PFDs in the market.

Type II

Type II PFDs are referred to as “near-shore vests”. These PFDs are more suitable for calm, inland water where chances of immediate rescue are good. They provide less floatation than Type I PFDs, usually a minimum of 15.5 lbs. These PFDs can turn some (not all) unconscious people in a face-up position. These are the usual orange PFDs that are often used to ensure USCG compliance.

Type III

Type III is mostly referred to as “floatation aids”. These PFDs are more suitable for paddlers and sailors where there is a good chance of immediate rescue. They offer a minimum buoyancy of 15.5 lbs. They offer plenty of flexibility and comfort for conscious users. These PFDs are far more comfortable to wear than Type I and Type II PFDs but are only suitable for protected, inland water near shore. Type III PFDs are not able to put the wearer in a face-up position, but they are designed to make it easier for the conscious wearers to put themselves in a face-up position.

Type IV

The Type IV PFDs are referred to as “throwable devices”. These PFDs are designed to be thrown to an overboard victim or to supplement the buoyancy of a person overboard. These PFDs offer a minimum buoyancy of 16.5 lbs. for ring buoy and 18 lbs. for boat cushions. These PFDs are not to be used by non-swimmers, unconscious swimmers, or on rough waters. Generally, they provide the same amount of floatation as Type II or Type III PFDs, but rather than being worn they are typically just thrown by someone on the water to be used in case of an emergency. A type IV throwable device can be a square style, a horseshoe buoy mounted on deck, or a ring buoy.

Type V

The Type V PFDs are referred to as “special-use devices”. These PFDs are designed to be used for special use, for example, sailboard harness, float coats, commercial white-water vest, deck suit, or paddling vest. In order to be accepted by the USCG, these PFDs must have a label that clearly states what activity they are specified for. These PFDs provide more floatation than Type II and Type III PFDs, usually somewhere between 22.5 lbs. to 34 lbs. depending on the style.

Floatation

One of the most important features of a PFD is the floatation it provides in the water. The floatation that you will need in water varies for different water conditions. A floatation of 16 lbs. is considered sufficient for inland waters where there are good chances of immediate rescue. However, if you are going for kayaking in far off places at extreme ocean conditions, you will need a PFD with 22.5 lbs. or above floatation.

Materials

When we talk about the material used for the construction of PFDs, you will often see a term known as “Denier”. This is actually referred to as the strength of the weave in whatever the fabric used to manufacture different parts of your PFD. Generally, for the outer shell of the kayak PFDs, Nylon is a very popular material because of its resistance to abrasion and UV damage.

To provide floatation to any kayak PFD, several different foaming materials are used. But the foaming material used is not of much concern here, instead what floatation level they provide is of more importance.

Sizing

For adults, mostly the measurement of their chest size is more important than their body weight in finding the right-size PFD. PFD brands have different size options available that can accommodate almost every individual. But these sizes do vary from brand to brand. A good practice is to take measurements of the circumference of your chest and shoulders at their broadest points. Then, compare these measurements with the size options offered by different PFD brands.

A good PFD should snug the wearer like a glove while still allowing the arms to move freely without causing any hindrance during paddling.

Comfort

Comfort is one of the most important aspects of any PFD you will wear. If you do not feel comfortable in your PFD on the water, even if everything else is perfect you will end up just not having a good experience in the water. You need to make sure that you get a PFD that is suitable for the water conditions you will be using it in.

A good PFD should be breathable and should not rub on your skin too much.

Reviews of Kayaking PFDs

Here are our top picks of Kayaking PFDs and we have reviewed their specs, pros, and cons in detail to help you decide which one is the best option for you!

1. Astral V-Eight – Most Comfortable PFD for Kayaking

Astral V-eight

Check Astral V-Eight PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
 Patented Airflow System  Runs a bit large
Very Durable  Back panel not great for swimming
Comfortable
Useful Pockets
Velcro Strap Management
Tapered top also works for women

Specs

  • Weight: 1.22 lbs. / 19.52 oz.
  • Floatation: 16.2 pounds
  • Sizing: S/M = 31-37” M/L = 38-44” L/XL = 45-51
  • Liner Fabric: Breathable Polyester Mesh
  • Shell Fabric: 200 x 400 Denier Ripstop Nylon
  • Hardware: Heavy Duty Acetal
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $119.90

Features

  • Breathable Design: airspace design eliminates excessive heat buildup
  • Made for Safety: stay afloat with EVA and PE foam inserts
  • High Mesh Back: ensures comfort with taller kayak seats
  • Free of toxic PVC
  • Adjustable Webbing Side straps

The Astral V-Eight is a highly versatile PFD that is perfect for kayakers living in hot climates. Its patented airflow system eliminates any chances of excessive heat build-up and keeps the kayakers cool and comfortable in the water. The clip and buckle of this PFD jacket are placed very strategically to stop straps from digging into your skin and the interior fabric is comfortable enough to wear over bearskin.

Astral V-Eight’s high mesh back allows comfortable seating in kayaks with taller seatbacks. Its adjustable shoulder straps and webbing side straps make the PFD snug right up to your specific body shape. On top of that, this life jacket is made up of some of the thickest ripstop material with USCG Type III approval and is sure to last for many adventures.

All in all, we love hanging out on the water in the Astral V-Eight and believe that it’s an excellent choice for staying comfortable and safe while you enjoy the water.

2. Stohlquist DRIFTer – Best Low Profile Kayak PFD

Stohlquist drifter

Check Stohlquist Drifter PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
Cross-chest cinch harness & comfort  Can be too bulky to wear in warm weather
Ventilated Shoulders More suitable for flatwater conditions
Low profile provides most movement
Large-zippered pockets

Specs

  • Weight: 1.6 lbs.
  • Floatation: 16 pounds
  • Sizing: SM/MD 33” – 39” LG/XL 40” – 46” XXL 48” – 54”
  • Liner Fabric: 200D Oxford
  • Shell Fabric: 500D Cordura® Nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type III

 Features

  • Non-slip interior panel to prevent it from riding up
  • Ventilated shoulder and lumbar pads
  • Cross-chest cinch strap
  • Ergonomic Wrapture shaped torso
  • Resistant to abrasion and UV damage
  • 4-way accessory lash tabs on front and back shoulder
  • Large Zippered pockets with soft fleece lining
  • Reflective accents

The Stohlquist Drifter is a comfortable and good-looking PFD and is the perfect option for paddlers that usually goes out on flat water. The most amazing feature of this life jacket is its cross-chest cinch strap that can be used to keep the vest tightened throughout the day.

The outer shell of this vest is made up of a durable Cordura® Nylon shell that stands up to the tough love of paddling. While the inner lining is made up of softer oxford nylon that keeps the vest comfortable from inside. Its adjustable shoulder straps follow your movement actively without hindering it. It has large zippered pockets with a soft fleece lining that is great for storing extra gear or to keep your hands warm on cold days.

This PFD comes with reflective accents that make you visible to other boaters under low light conditions. Moreover, it has 4-way lash tabs on front and back that allow you to hang your desired accessories like strobes, knives, etc.

3. Stohlquist Rocker – Best Touring Kayak PFD

Sthlquist Rocker PFD

Check Stohlquist Rocker PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
The WRAPTURE shaped torso combined with the full mobility shoulders offer great mobility in water & safe Limited sizing options
High-quality construction The shoulder straps can cause some discomfort
 Adjustable fit for various sized people Low cut design in the back leaves a little gap from where debris or foreign objects can enter.
 Adjustable fit for various sized people
 Comfortable
 Greater storage areas to store phone and other accessories
 Greater buoyancy
 Mesh pockets for secure storage of valuable items

Specs

  • Floatation: 16 pounds
  • Sizing: XXL: 48 – 54 inches L/XL: 40 – 46 inches S/M: 33 – 39 inches
  • Liner Fabric: 200D Oxford
  • Shell Fabric: 500D Cordura® Nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $112.46

Features

  • Body-wrapping, ergonomically articulated WRAPTURE shaped torso
  • Cross-chest cinch harness
  • Reflective accents
  • Ventilated lumbar pad
  • Adjustable and stretchable shoulder pads that move with your body without creating hindrance
  • Low-cut, front-zip entry with zipper grip tab

The Stohlquist Rocker comes with a durable nylon shell that makes it long-lasting and resistant to UV exposure and abrasion. Just like the Stohlquist Drifter, this vest also comes with a cross-chest cinch strap that keeps it from riding up while you are swimming or paddling in the water.

This life jacket has adjustable shoulder straps and six additional adjustment points that allow you to get the perfect fit according to your body shape. It has ballistic nylon shoulders that have stiffeners in them for portaging and added protection.

Stohlquist Rocker has a large streamlined main pocket for secure storage where you can place a water bottle or other accessory. Apart from this, it has a D-ring so that you can park your whistle, keys, or Chapstick conveniently and a front accessory lash tab for strobes or knives attachment

This vest also comes with 3M reflective accents that provide high visibility in low light conditions.

4. NRS Ninja – Best Personal Floatation Device for Kayaking

NRS Ninja PFD

Check NRS Ninja PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
Excellent paddling mobility Bulky
Works great for short torsos Key loop catcher in the pocket zipper
Breathable and open design Un-bending and flat
High-quality construction Rough looking straps
Best next-to-skin feel Foam is not flexible
Comfortable

Specs

  • Weight: 1.95 lbs.
  • Floatation: 16.5 pounds
  • Sizing: XXL: 42 – 50 inches
  • Liner Fabric: Breathable Polyester Mesh
  • Shell Fabric: 200-denier urethane-coated ripstop nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $90.95 – $149.99

 Features

  • Soft PVC-free foam floatation panels
  • 4 side adjustments and 2 shoulder adjustments for perfect fitting
  • Soft and stretchy interior for extra comfort
  • Side entry with quick-release buckles for easy on and off
  • Ample adjustability
  • Floating front panels that adjust to your body’s shape
  • Large front zippered pocket

The NRS Ninja PFD is ideal for boaters with a shorter torso. It has a massive open shoulder area with two shoulder adjustments and four side adjustments which makes it a good choice for hardcore paddlers. The vest has a soft and stretchable interior fabric and cushioned shoulder straps which allows it to flex as you move and enhances the overall breathability of the vest.

It has many useful features like a large-zippered front pocket and a front panel to keep your hands warm when you are taking a quick break from paddling. NRS Ninja has a side entry system with a quick-release buckle on either side that makes it easier to put it on and off as needed.

It has paddle-friendly features like an off-center knife tab and durable material to see you through your wild adventures. NRS has a reputation for making some quality products and this vest is no different. The straps are thick and durable, the seams are reinforced, and the plastic buckles and clips are sturdy. Moreover, this life jacket comes with a lifetime manufacturing warranty as well.

5. Stohlquist Edge – Best Kayak PFD for Sailors

Stohlquist Edge

Check Stohlquist Edge PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
Aesthetic appearance with simple design Fitting is better on men than on women
Good quality construction material A front pocket zipper can get stuck
Larger arm openings
Extremely buoyant foam
Available in different sizes
Side-mounted zipper cuts down on front bulk
Budget-friendly

Specs

  • Weight: 1 lb.
  • Floatation: 15 lbs. / 8 oz.
  • Sizing: S/M: 33 – 39 inches XXL/XXXL: 48 – 54 inches
  • Shell Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Inner lining: 200 denier oxford liner
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $74.96 – $99.95

Features

  • Ergonomic WRAPTURE shaped torso
  • Low-cut, offset front-zip entry
  • Top-loading front pocket
  • Large arm openings
  • Mesh sides to ensure maximum ventilation
  • Reflective accents
  • Adjustable straps on the shoulder, four side pulls, and front waist buckle

Stohlquist Edge is a popular PFD among sailors and crews on racing yachts because of its great flexibility and buoyancy in water. If you are planning to spend many hours in the water, this PFD is a perfect option for you. The large arm openings and mesh sides allow unrestricted arm movement and maximum ventilation. If you are wearing the right size, you will not even feel that you are wearing a PFD.

The offset front-zip entry on this vest provides a large top-loading front pocket which allows you to carry all your needed accessories. The vest also features soft buoyancy foam and comes in graded sizing to create the perfectly fitting PFDs for a wide range of paddlers.

It has contoured and padded shoulder straps for extra comfort during paddling. Stohlquist Edge vest comes with the standard clamshell pocket with the horizontal zipper that is quite spacious. Its 3M reflective accents offer high visibility in the water.

6. Astral Ronny – Best PFD for Sea Kayaking

Astral Ronny PFD

Check Astal Ronny on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
Plenty of storage pockets for accessories. No crotch strap
Open breathable design No harness hold clip
Heavy-duty hardwares
Super-thing mesh lining at the back
Six adjustment point to provide better fitting

Specs

  • Weight: 1.02 pounds
  • Floatation: 16 lbs.
  • Sizing: S/M (31-37”), M/L (38-44”), L/XL (45-51”)
  • Shell Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Inner lining: 200 Denier High Tenacity Nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $59.97 – $99.95

Features

  • Mesh Liner for additional comfort and safety
  • Multiple front storage pockets to easily access your smaller gear
  • Center front zip and adjustable buckles at side
  • Back panel made of super-thin foam and mesh
  • Heavy-duty hardware and zippers with Self-locking Vislon Teeth
  • Beverage Holder

Astral Ronny PFD is meant for providing protection and comfort when taking a journey in the recreational kayaks with high-seat backs. It’s back panel is made out of extremely thin mesh and foam for a super comfortable ride in the water. The vest’s outer nylon shell is very durable and provides superior resistance against any cuts or tears. Its internal mesh liner webbing provides additional breathability that allows moisture to escape and helps you keep cool in the hot weather.

To add to your convenience, it has multiple front storage pockets for fishing gear or other accessories. It comes with one collapsible pocket as well which is specially designed for placing a beverage to help you keep hydrated.

Astral Ronny PFD also has an accessory lash tab that provides easy access and a secure storage place for an attachable rescue knife. The Astral Ronny is designed with heavy-duty hardware and zippers with self-locking teeth for a better hold.

7. NRS Ion – Best Kayak PFD for Paddling

NRS ION PFD

Check NRS Ion PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
AirMesh inner panels for better airflow Some people find the size too small
Fleece-lined handwarming pouch Only one storage pocket
Front pocket with dual entry to store accessories
Light-weight and comfortable
Padded shoulders
A knife lash tab
Reasonable price

Specs

  • Weight: 2.05 lbs.
  • Floatation: 16.5 lbs.
  • Sizing: L/XL: 42 – 52 inches XL/XXL: 50 – 56 inches XS/M: 30 – 42 inches
  • Shell Fabric: 400-denier urethane-coated ripstop nylon
  • Inner lining: 200 Denier Nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $67.82 – $109.95

Features

  • Six-panel design built with super soft foam for a flexible fit that effortlessly wraps around your torso and flows with your movement
  • 400 deniers ripstop nylon ensures durability
  • AirMesh inner panels that provide ample ventilation along the spine
  • Fleece-lined handwarmer pouch
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Large dual entry front zippered pockets that secure keep your accessories secure on the water
  • Lash tab, shoulder strap garages, and reflective accents

NRS Ion is a sleek and neat PFD that is designed with paddlers in mind. This is a low-profile PFD with an innovative six-panel design that snugs to your body effortlessly and moves with you seamlessly as you paddle.

It has a raised foam panel along your spine that increases the overall air-flow and comfort in this vest. NRS Ion is made up of a ripstop nylon outer shell which ensures its durability for years. One of the coolest features of this vest is its dual-entry front pocket with vertically placed zips on both sides which is convenient to open and close quickly.

For colder days, this life jacket has a fleece-lined hand-warming pouch to keep your finger warm when you are not paddling. NRS Ion is a light-weight PFD and adjusts well to most body shapes. It doesn’t ride upon you, so it scores high for comfort as well.

8. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic – Best Inflatable PFD for Kayaking

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic PFD

Check Onyx MoveVent Dynamic PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
The innovative vented channels keep you cool all-day Can feel bulky for skinny people
Adjustable shoulders create a snug fit Only one pocket
SOLAS grade reflective accents for visibility Can be hard to get the right size
Budget-friendly
Large armholes for better ventilation
Bubble foam for added comfort

Specs

  • Floatation: 15.5 lbs.
  • Sizing: XS/S = 28”-36” M/L = 36”-44” XL/XXL = 44”-56”
  • Shell Fabric: 200-denier nylon ripstop
  • Inner lining: Nylon Oxford
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $48.04 – $69.99

Features

  • Soft, light-weight floatation foam
  • SOLAS grade reflective material for visibility
  • Drying loop on the back
  • Expandable zippered pocket with mesh drainage
  • Attached whistle for safety
  • Shoulder adjustments with neoprene comfort pads
  • Adjustable side belts
  • Lash tab for small accessories
  • Mesh in the lower back that fits high back seats and sit-on-top kayaks
  • Provides excellent mobility for recreational paddle sports

When it comes to the best combination of comfort, fitting, functionality, and cost, Onyx MoveVent Dynamic tops the list. Whether it be kayaking, boating, or paddling, this PDF vest has what it takes to provide the user the best day out on the water. One of the best features of this PDF is the ease of movement it provides because of its large armholes. The ventilation system this PFD offers is also great because of the side belts.

This Onyx PDF comes with neoprene comfort shoulder pads that are fully adjustable. To add to that, the front of this vest is very sculpted and well-designed to provide comfort and better flexibility.

There is one expandable zippered pocket with mesh drainage which is fairly big and ergonomically located on the front. This Onyx vest comes with SOLAS grade reflective accents to provide greater visibility in the water. Apart from this, there is an attached whistle, a drying loop at the back, and a zip assist loop.

9. NRS Zen – Featured Best Type 5 PFD

NRS Zen PFD

Check NRS Zen PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
Mesh Sleeve No side protection
Centered and isolated quick release Can feel a bit blocky
Great buoyancy despite being super low-profile Knife tab is in a loose area
Side buckles make it easy to put it on and off quickly
Fleece lined hand pouch
Six adjustable points for a customized fit

Specs

  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Floatation: 17.5 lbs.
  • Sizing: S/M (31-37”), L/XL (38-44”), XXL (45-51”)
  • Shell Fabric: 400 deniers ripstop nylon with Cordura® reinforcements
  • Inner lining: 200 Denier Nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type V
  • Price: $199.95

Features

  • Un-restricted range of motion
  • Quick-release rescue belt
  • Integrated hand warmer
  • 6-adjustment points that ensure a personalized fit
  • Compartmentalized clamshell pocket
  • Padded armholes and sides which provide crucial impact protection
  • Floating front panel that moves freely with your upper body

The NRS Zen is a Type V life jacket that delivers 17.5 pounds of floatation. The low-profile of the Zen allows unrestricted range of movement in the water. This lifejacket is a perfect option for swift water kayakers that might need rescue capability.

The PFD has a quick-release belt with a carabiner attachment that allows you to attach a tow rope, strobe attachment, and a lash tab. This quick-release belt will also enable you to quickly release from any attachment if you feel that your safety is at risk.

NRS Zen has a floating front panel that moves freely with your upper body. It also comes with padded armholes and sides that provide crucial impact protection. This vest also has the tendency to turn an unconscious wearer in the face-up position. Another admirable feature is its compartmentalized clamshell pocket which is big enough to stow and organize a small first-aid kit or other rescue essentials.

10. Astral Layla – Best Women PFD for Kayaking

Astral Layla

Check Astral Layla PFD on Amazon

 

Pros Cons
Excellent fit for every woman no matter the size Full coverage can be hot
Made for safety. Stays afloat with organic Kapok Runs a bit large
Very durable
Offers excellent mobility
Secure comfort
Aesthetically pleasing
Adjustable and great sizing options

Specs

  • Weight: 1. lbs.
  • Floatation: 16.5 lbs.
  • Sizing: XS = 27-31″ S/M = 31-37” M/L = 38-44” L/XL = 45-51”
  • Shell Fabric: 200 x 400 Denier Ripstop Nylon
  • Inner lining: 200 Denier High Tenacity Nylon
  • USCG Rating: Type III
  • Price: $139.95

 Features

  • Women-specific architecture with multi-panel hinge and internally sculpted bust cups
  • Super soft organic Kapok floatation for a comfortable fit and ample flexibility
  • Quick-release belt compatibility
  • Front entry zipper
  • Secure and organized front pocket with an internal divider and a key clip to keep your small gear at hand and organized
  • High-quality construction material

Astral Layla is our top pick for women PFD. It is specifically designed to fit the women’s body shape with multiple adjustment features. It comes in four different sizes and three adjustable side straps so finding the precise fit for different body shapes and sizes is super convenient.

Another great feature of this PFD is the side zip which makes it easy to get on and off. It has numerous internal stretching panels that help this jacket stretch and move effortlessly. The conveniently placed stretchy mesh keeps it breathable and comfortable no matter how you paddle. Not only this PFD has great features but it also looks very trendy and stylish.

From the added durability of using Kapok fibers instead of foam in the front to comfortable fabric and rightly placed pockets, Astral Layla really excels in providing the best comfort and safety features.

PFD Kayak Features Explained

Adjustment Points

These are the places where a kayak PFD can be adjusted to fit your body shape. Typically, the more adjustment points a PFD has the more likely it is to fit perfectly on a wider variety of body sizes without causing any discomfort or pinching. Most of the good PFDs available in the market have 6 adjustment points on average.

Quick-release Rescue Belt

Not all kayak PFDs come with a quick-release rescue belt. A quick-release rescue belt best serves the Swiftwater paddlers or the kayakers who are kayaking in extreme ocean conditions. This belt is usually used to attach a rope to the kayaker’s PFD, which can then be used to rescue another kayaker or swimmer.

Entry System

An entry system refers to how the PFD goes on the wearer. Kayak PFDs comes with a number of different entry options which include

  • Front Entry (Zippered entry at the front, right in the middle of the vest)
  • Side Entry (Zipper at one side of the PFD)
  • Offset Front Entry (Zippered entry at the front, but is slightly offset to one side)
  • Over-the-head entry (no zip entry, this PFD slides on the wearer’s head)

Lash Tab and Attachment Points

Lash tab and attachment points are the places on your PFD where you can securely attach any additional accessory that you want to keep on you while you are in the water. These accessories can include knives, whistle, tow tethers, and strobes.

Clamshell Pocket

Some of the PFDs come with a clamshell pocket. As the name suggests, these PFDs open up like a clamshell. The benefit of this type of pocket is that you can easily locate smaller items stored in a clamshell pocket as compared to the standard zippered pockets.

Conclusion

The advancement in technology and more attention to aesthetics and safety features have resulted in a wider variety of comfortable and flexible PFD options available. If you are still not wearing a PFD because you don’t feel comfortable in it, you are putting yourself and others who are on board with you at risk. Over 80% of all boating fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a PFD vest. Therefore, we encourage you to find a PFD for you in which you feel most comfortable and breathy and put it on whenever you are in the water.

With your safety and comfort in mind, we have tested and reviewed the best available PFD jackets available in the market to help you find the best floatation wearable that you need.

We hope this guide can help you to find the perfect PFD and stay afloat and happy no matter where your journey is.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference between a Lifejacket and a PFD?

There are a number of functional differences between the two, but in essence, a PFD is designed to support a conscious person (which is why they are also mostly referred to as “Buoyancy Aid”), while lifejackets are designed to support those who are unconscious in the water. 

What is a Type 3 PFD?

Type 3 PFDs are specifically designed for activities where the kayakers, adventurers can see the shore on calm and inland waters. These PFDs are also known as “inshore buoyant vests”. 

What PFD has the greatest amount of buoyancy?

A type 1 PFD or the “Offshore Life Jacket” provides the greatest buoyancy compared to all available PFD types. It is effective for all waters including open, rough, and remote waters where rescue may be delayed. It is designed to turn the unconscious wearers in the face-up position. 

How do I choose a PFD for kayaking?

A properly sized standard PFD should snug the wearer like a glove, while still allowing him to move freely and not chafe while paddling and playing in the water.

How long does a PFD last?

The maximum lifespan of a buoyancy aid or a foam-filled life jacket is ten years. Typically, these PFDs do not require any maintenance at all. 

How much weight will a Lifejacket hold up?

A lifejacket typically provides seven to ten pounds of buoyancy which is more than enough to keep an average person afloat. 

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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