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How to Choose a Life Jacket, Life Vest, Personal Floatation Device (PDF) for Recreational Kayaking

The U.S. Coast Guard rates personal floatation devices (PFD, life jacket, life vest) for buoyancy and provides a "Think Safe" pamphlet with every approved PFD. The USCG recommends wearing one whenever operating a human-powered watercraft, while some states require them.

#1: Recreational Boating PFD Types

The first item to consider when buying a PFD is the category. Type III and V are typically used by paddlers. Each USCG approved personal flotation device has a label printed on the inside. Look for the “INTENDED USE:” to see if it is approved for kayaking.

Type I: Offshore Life Jackets

Bulky and meant for open ocean, rough seas, or remote water, where rescue may be slow.

Type II: Near-shore Buoyant Vests

Meant for calm, inland waters, or where fast rescue is likely.

Type III: Flotation Aids

Meant for calm, inland waters, or where fast rescue is likely and designed with comfort and freedom of movement.

Type IV: Throwable PDFs

Ring buoys and boat cushions are thrown to someone in trouble.

Type V: Special-use Devices

Read the label to see for which activity the PFD is meant.

Post Date: 8/8/2014

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