The Best PFD for Kayaking: Stay Safe With These 7 Picks

Wondering about the best pfd for kayaking? We look at the best 7 pfds for kayaking in this article

best pfd for kayaking
What is the best pfd for kayaking? We list the top 7 in this article.

Kayaking is an exciting water activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. However, like any water sport, it is essential to prioritize safety by wearing the right gear, including a lifejacket, or PFD, which stands for personal flotation device. Choosing the right lifejacket can be challenging, especially with so many options available. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the best pfds for kayaking, so you can make an informed decision and stay safe on the water.

There are five types of PFDs, but only three are suitable for kayaking:

  1. Type III PFD: This is the most popular PFD for kayaking. It is designed to be comfortable, lightweight, and flexible, allowing you to move freely. Type III PFDs have a minimum buoyancy of 15.5 pounds and are suitable for calm, inland water.
  2. Type V PFD: This is a specialized PFD designed for specific activities such as whitewater kayaking, rafting, or sailing. Type V PFDs have a minimum buoyancy of 15.5 pounds but provide additional features such as harnesses, tow systems, and pockets.
  3. Inflatable PFD: This type of PFD is designed to be compact and comfortable. Inflatable PFDs are available in both manual and automatic inflation options. They are ideal for kayakers who want a minimalist design and more mobility.

What To Look For When Choosing A PFD For Kayaking

When selecting a PFD for kayaking, there are several factors you need to consider. These include:

  1. Buoyancy: The level of buoyancy required will depend on your weight, body type, and the type of water you will be kayaking in.  Look for one that's U.S. Coast Guard Approved.
  2. Fit: A PFD must fit correctly to be effective. Ensure you try on a PFD before purchasing it to ensure it fits snugly and does not ride up.
  3. Comfort: A comfortable PFD is essential when kayaking for an extended period. Look for features such as adjustable straps, padding, and ventilation.
  4. Visibility: Choose a PFD with bright colors or reflective strips to increase your visibility in the water.
  5. Durability: A PFD should be made of high-quality materials that can withstand wear and tear. Look for PFDs with sturdy zippers, durable stitching, and resistant fabrics.

What is the best PFD for kayaking?

After considering all the essential factors, we have selected the following PFDs as the 7 best pfds for kayaking:

1. Stohlquist Women's Flo Lifejacket

Women's Specific Flo Lifejacket PFD For Precise Fitting

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Designed specifically for women, the Stohlquist Women's Flo Lifejacket offers a comfortable and secure fit. It is made with a cross-chest cinch harness that keeps the vest from riding up, ensuring that it stays in place, even during more challenging kayaking trips. The jacket also has a mesh back that provides excellent ventilation, making it ideal for warmer weather.

2. Astral BlueJacket Lifejacket

16.4lbs of Buoyancy And A Hydration Sleeve With Hose

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The Astral BlueJacket Lifejacket is an excellent choice for kayakers who prefer a more lightweight and flexible option. It features a low profile design, making it comfortable to wear for extended periods. Additionally, the jacket has a unique back design that allows for increased mobility and breathability.

3. NRS Chinook Fishing PFD

PFD Designed For Kayak Fishing

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If you're a kayaker who also enjoys fishing, the NRS Chinook Fishing PFD is the perfect lifejacket for you. This jacket has several pockets designed specifically for fishing gear, making it convenient to store your tackle and other essentials. It is also made with a high-back design, ensuring that the jacket stays in place, even when you're leaning back in your kayak.

4. Kokatat Maximus Centurion Lifejacket

Top-Rated PFD With Best-In-Class Flotation

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The Kokatat Maximus Centurion Lifejacket is an excellent choice for more experienced kayakers who want a high-performance vest. It is designed with a low profile that allows for maximum mobility, making it ideal for whitewater kayaking. The jacket is also made with durable materials that can withstand wear and tear from more extreme kayaking conditions.

5. NRS cVest Lifejacket

Six Adjustment Points For Customized Fit, With 3M Reflective Accents

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The NRS cVest Lifejacket is a versatile jacket that can be used for a variety of water activities, including kayaking. It features several pockets that can hold essential items such as snacks, sunscreen, and a whistle. Additionally, the jacket has a mesh back that provides excellent ventilation, keeping you cool and comfortable during warmer weather.

6. ONYX M-16 Belt Pack Inflatable PFD

Super Convenient Inflatable PFD

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The Coast Guard approved ONYX M-16 Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket (PFD is a really convenient version of a life jacket. The belt pack design makes it easy to wear, and the low profile design ensures that it won't interfere with your movement.

This PFD has a 16 gram CO2 charge that provides 17 lbs. of buoyancy when inflated. The secure pull clips to the life jacket and allows for quick release when pulled for inflation, and the oral inflation tube allows for up to 26.5 lbs of additional buoyancy.

7. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest

Expandable Zippered Pockets With Mesh Drainage

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The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest is designed with a mesh lower back that fits high back seats, making it comfortable for extended periods of use. The shoulder adjustments with neoprene comfort pads also ensure a perfect fit that won't rub or chafe. The life vest features SOLAS grade reflective material for maximum visibility to others on the water.the heavy-duty nylon fabric and lightweight flotation foam ensure that the life vest is durable and long-lasting. The attached whistle adds an extra layer of safety, and the zip assist loop at the zipper base makes it easy to put on and take off.

Here's a HOT TIP: ALL PFDs work better when they're WORN!

Best PFDs For Kayaking FAQs:

A PFD choice may be equally important as buying the right kayak. If you still can’t decide, maybe these FAQs will help you make the choice that’s right for you.

How should a lifejacket fit for kayaking?

A lifejacket for kayaking should fit snugly. It should be comfortable enough to wear for extended periods, but not be too tight.  The arm openings should allow for a full range of motion.

Do I need a specific type of lifejacket for kayaking?

Yes, it is recommended to wear a lifejacket specifically designed for kayaking. These jackets offer more mobility and ventilation, making them ideal for this water sport.

What is a PFD?

A PFD, or personal flotation device, is a type of life jacket that is worn to provide buoyancy and keep the wearer afloat in water. PFDs come in different types and styles, each designed for specific activities and water conditions.

Why do I need a PFD for kayaking?

Kayaking can be unpredictable and dangerous. A PFD is an essential piece of safety equipment that can help keep you afloat in case of an accident. Additionally, some states and countries require kayakers to wear a PFD while on the water.

What types of PFDs are best for kayaking?

The best type of PFD for kayaking depends on the type of kayaking you plan to do and the water conditions. In general, kayakers should look for PFDs that are designed for paddle sports and provide a comfortable fit, freedom of movement, and ample buoyancy.

What features should I look for in a PFD for kayaking?

When choosing a PFD for kayaking, look for features that will provide comfort, convenience, and safety. These may include adjustable straps for a customized fit, mesh panels for breathability, pockets for storage, reflective material for visibility, and a whistle or other signaling device for emergency situations.

Do I need a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD for kayaking?

Yes, in the United States, kayakers are required by law to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while on the water. The PFD must be the appropriate size and type for the intended wearer and activity.

How often should I replace my PFD for kayaking?

It is recommended to replace your PFD every 5 years, or sooner if it shows signs of wear and tear, damage, or fading. It is important to regularly inspect your PFD for any damage or signs of deterioration and replace it if necessary.

Can I use a PFD designed for another water activity, such as boating or fishing, for kayaking?

It is recommended to use a PFD that is specifically designed for paddle sports because these PFDs are designed with features that provide comfort, freedom of movement, and buoyancy for these activities.

Can you wear an inflatable PFD on a PWC?

You probably didn't realize this but inflatable PFDs are not allowed on PWCs. All PFDs must be in good condition and must be readily accessible for both PWC riders and passengers.

What is the difference between a kayak PFD and a regular life vest?

PFDs, unlike traditional lifejackets, are more comfortable because they are designed for constant wear. However, they do not generally offer the same level of protection as lifejackets for staying afloat and turning an unconscious person onto their back so you can breathe.

Best PFD For Kayaking - Conclusion:

Choosing the right lifejacket for kayaking is essential for your safety and comfort on the water. The Stohlquist Women's Flo Lifejacket, Astral BlueJacket Lifejacket, NRS Chinook Fishing PFD, Kokatat Maximus Centurion Lifejacket, and NRS cVest Lifejacket are all great options for kayakers. Consider your kayaking needs and personal preferences when selecting a lifejacket. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when participating in any water activity.

By wearing the right lifejacket, you can enjoy kayaking with confidence, knowing that you are well-protected in case of an accident. Don't forget to also check the regulations in your area regarding lifejacket requirements.

Cheers to the great outdoors,

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