It goes without saying that you should have a life jacket on when your out on the water. It's estimated that about 10 people a day lose their life to accidental drowning in the U.S. alone. Last year over 372,000 people died of drowning worldwide. I'm not writing this to convince you to put on your life jacket. If you have half a brain, and care about your family you already use one. If you need a refresher on life jacket use or fitment follow the link here. The reason I'm writing this is to explain the different types of PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices), and how I decide which one to wear on the water.
Back when I first started kayaking I just used whatever PFD I had around. To be honest I never really gave them much thought. However, as I've progressed through the years I have found that I prefer to wear different PFD's depending on the angling situation and water conditions. What am I talking about? Let's take a look at 3 different life jacket styles and when I wear each type.
|Perfect those cool fall mornings.|
|They look small, but are perfect for the paddle sport enthusiast.|
|Lightweight and out of the way, great for warm weather kayaking.|
So just to recap:
Pros: Inexpensive, Lots of flotation, Warm
Cons: Heavy, Not accommodating to a paddlers range of motion, Warm
Paddling Specific PFD
Pros: Accommodates a paddlers range of motion, Cut for backrests, Good flotation
Cons: Pricey, Can still feel bulky when paddling
Pros: Lightweight, Extremely comfortable, Good flotation
Cons: Expensive, Has to be inflated in order to work
Hopefully this helps explain the common PFD's you'll see on the water. As you can see, I let the conditions dictate the type of PFD I need. Like everything else in fishing, what life jacket style you use is a personal choice. The important thing is that you remember to wear one.