Life vests


Curious about Wooden Canoes

Quickly: is there a suggested brand of good, cheap life vests worth investing in? And where's a good place to shop for them?

Personal Floatation Device

JCanoe 714,

Please don't jeapordize the liability of the WCHA. Please use the term Personal Floatation Device. There is no longer anything called a Life Vest or Life Preserver, because they will not save your life nor preserve your life. If they did in the latter case, all of us old people would wear one constantly.

I buy the ones on sale and fit kind of OK. The most important thing is that they are worn properly. You buy them at the big sporting goods super stores, that is if you have them near you. Walmart may even have them.

Remember float with your head up and feet downstream.

PFD choices are highly personal

If you are going to use a PFD as intended it must be worn while paddling. It also should not ride up when actually floating you in the water which means it must fit well. A particular problem on us belly enhanced types. It should not restrict normal paddling movements which means large arm holes. It needs to be highly adjustable as it will be worn over a wide variety of clothing. In my experience there are literally a dozen or more that meet my criteria but for the most part you will be looking in the $50 to $100 range for a suitable model. They aren't intended as a supplemental seat cushion which is how way too many are used. The previous statement is an opinion, your mileage may vary.
Good and real cheap may not be possible. I advise being as fussy about your pfds as you are about your canoe and paddle. Too often pfds (and wearing them) are an after-thought

I’ve been paddling a lot for 14 years or so. Early on, I got cheap pfds and they were pretty uncomfortable. About 10 years ago, someone—maybe it was here at the forum, or an Assembly—said many professional guides use Seda pfds. I got some from Piragis (Boundary Waters Catalogue) and have been 100% happy with them ever since. My daughters wear them when they paddle with me and have no complaints about fit. They’re constructed of a large number of vertical pockets filled with floatation, have a strong zipper, waist ties, and two large Velcro flapped pockets. I never know I’m wearing one when I’m paddling, except maybe when it’s kind of hot.

Start with the best you can get: it’s cheaper in the long run. You’ll wear it if it’s a good one and that makes all the difference.

Very often the attitude I encounter among casual paddlers is, “if I’m wearing a pfd, it indicates that I don’t have confidence in my skills.” I take the opposite view. Paddlers who don’t wear pfds are advertising their incompetence. Good paddlers know accidents can happen anywhere anytime to the best paddler and it’s a courtesy to other paddlers who may get involved in rescuing you to have the pfd on.

True story. My first paddle this spring I encountered a kayaker on the river. Top of the line kayak and paddle, but paddling sans shirt and pfd. Now it was a warm day but there was still ice in the backwaters so think of what the water temp was.

Back years ago the cleaner at the banking firm i was working at bought a used canoe the seller threw in two life jackets and two paddles with the sale
the cleaner "Phil" was going to do the Machias River with it that weekend I saw Phil the following monday he was all hunched up and could hardly move his arms and upper body. I inquired as to what happened to him and he said that he paddled the length of the Machias but wearing the life jackets nearly killed him and his wife as they were too tight around their arms even though they said large adult i asked him to bring one in for me to look at and the next day Phil brought in two adult large life cushions he had worn one of them the length of the Machias while paddling his wife the other. I quickly told him as i was walking away "so that i could burst out laughing in private" that cushions were to sit on
Here is the list of desireable elements to be had in PFDs:

They can be:




The catch is that you can only choose two from the list.

A good, cheap PFD will not be comfortable. If it's not comfortable, you won't wear it all the time as you should.

So, go out and get a good, comfortable PFD and don't worry about the cost.
Probably not

Wal Mart specials would do. My guess is the chances of swimming would be reduced in a boat that large. What fits one well and is comfortable won't do for another so you're down to simple functionality.
Wow. So many responses to one question... Ok, how about this: a good, comfortable PFD (i'll likely be buying a good one for myself; less expensive for guests) from an inexpensive retailer...? How does that work?
oh Hi everybody. I am a new member. Concerning PFD, I look for an approved one, solid construction, high buoyancy and a very good fit. Also, is it gonna be used in a kayak or canoe!. Bye for now....................Sandpiper
My first thought about a "comfortable" PFD was that comfortable means it's a decent knee pad.

I wonder if my PFDs are comfortable to wear - I should try one sometime.

I'm still disappointed that the Class IV PFD is no longer legal - that was a truly comfortable PFD - and you didn't have to think about actually wearing it.