Do you wear your PFD (open water)

-- Last Updated: Jan-27-14 5:09 PM EST --

Been reading the second Deep Trouble book "More Deep Trouble" book. Seems like I often read people not wearing the PFD's but instead putting them under there deck bunjees.Now I get it when some dont wear a PFD paddling down a creek were you can stand up in the creek. I still wear mine but many dont under those conditions.

BUT in open water do you ALWAYS wear your PFD?? I do. Just curious about others.

Side question, if you bring a VHF or PLB were do you keep it, on you? On me for my answer.

First, you have to assess the degree of
risk associated with not wearing your life jacket, and then, you must decide what level of risk that you, personally, are willing to assume.

I wouldn’t paddle a sea/touring kayak out on open water without wearing my life jacket. But my two-stage risk assessment is mine alone.

Sometimes, because they get tired of dragging for bodies and cleaning up after us, state or federal agencies dictate that we must wear life jackets whether we like it or not. Right now, that applies mostly on whitewater rivers.

I call them life jackets because that is their primary purpose, to save lives. “PFD” is a typical government euphemism, if not an outright evasion of the real issue.

depends on what you call open water
I have paddled in fairly close proximity to shore on a warm water lake without a PFD now and again as I have on a straightforward and relatively narrow Class I stream.

I would not paddle on a wide, deep river or attempt a significant open water crossing without a PFD, however.

Open water for me
would be a lake and yes I wear it

  1. Its like a seat belt once your get used to wearing it you just wear it.

  2. Most of the time we paddle with kids in the group so we wear them to set the example.

I always wear mine.
I’m never in “open” water.

I think wearing the PFD in rocky creeks is very important, since the likelihood of cracking your head on a rock and becoming unconscious is greater than when in open water.

My PLB is attached to my PFD
and that is attached to me. No doubt in anyones view the Gulf of Mexioo is open water. We did 11 miles today off Cedar Key …in a fog with 100 ft visibility. Losing anything was not an option.

In this case I would have needed all free hands to get back in and not lose the painter on the boat. Within five seconds it could have been buried in the fog.

I always wear it on the ocean.

Always, regardless

– Last Updated: Jan-31-14 10:35 PM EST –

If I am not wearing it for the sake of flotation I have it on because I have stuff in the pockets I might want fast, like the waterproof camera or a nut bar. For the little added money it costs to get one that is really comfortable, I don't see any reason not to do that.

BTW, saw a photo in the latest Eddie Bauer ad with three paddler offshore down in Baja somewhere, rock cliffs behind by at least a quarter of a mile so if they did capsize in any real trip it was going to have to be handled on the water. Guess what they were wearing? The prettily colored technical jackets that Eddie Bauer was advertising on that page, completely unblocked by anything as silly as a PFD. On the facing page, they listed their highly qualified guides in each of the sports.

I know that they were models, and there was a motor boat nearby just out of the shot as well as a guide telling them how to hold the paddle and go in to help if they did capsize. We saw a publicity shoot like this happening where we vacation on the coast on Maine a couple of years back. It was pretty funny when we came in from a paddle out to Eastern Egg wet, hungry and in faded PFD's and dry suits that used to be whatever color. Not exactly a match for the models in clean clothes trying to figure out which end of the paddle was up. We felt sorry for the kayak guide they had hired.

But I still find it galling that someone like Eddie Bauer will, on the facing pages, tout their highly qualified guides and place more emphasis on the cute colors of their clothes than fundamental safe practices. They are supposed to be about the outdoors, especially in this display. If they want to be about the new spring colors they don't need the boats to do it.

Later PS - I don't expect folks who do crew to wear a PFD, though I have seen less than comfy practices from the motor boat escorting the shell with all that stuff. I would probably try to make a waist mounted inflatable work if I cared about racing in a kayak. But I would as soon watch paint dry as race myself, so it is not an issue.

probably wouldn’t save you
Only a Type I PFD, which virtually no recreational boaters wear, has much of a chance of floating you with your airway out of the water.

Open water…

– Last Updated: Jan-28-14 12:22 PM EST –

I don't paddle open water; never wanted too, and have no plans to ever paddle open water.

I do paddle on a large lake, flatwater, moving water, and occasionally some whitewater rivers.
It doesn't matter what venue I paddle; I always wear my pfd. Season does not matter; it can be 20 degrees, or 100 degrees. My wife always wears her pfd; as do the vast majority of my padding friends.

If those I don't know, choose not to wear a pfd, and they are an adult; that is their decision.
I would have empathy for their family if dire natural consequences resulted.

Ex Lifeguard Instructor, and Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor(Never used as excuse to not wear pfd)

First question: no, not always

– Last Updated: Jan-27-14 7:04 PM EST –

Second question the PLB is on my PFD. My PFD is either on me or on the rear deck of the yak.
My vhf is always tethered to the front deck.

Jack L

always - feel naked without it
I always wear my PFD. Feel naked without it. Even wear it when SUPing.

VHF location is a bit more convoluted. If with others, and doing stuff like surfing or rock gardening, it may be in day hatch (to keep out of the way). But if solo, it is attached to me.

I am planning to buy a PLB when I get the cash, and it will be stored in a pocket that is built into the water bladder pack that is permanently attached to my PFD. So will be with meat all times.

I always wear my pfd—and when I have my vhf, it’s in the pocket on the pfd

PFD is a habit

– Last Updated: Jan-27-14 7:55 PM EST –

Getting a good fitting, comfortable , PFD "may"
take a slight teeny bit of effort, i.e. you
might have to try out a few different manufacturers
and various models by clipping them onto your body.

After that, it goes on my body just like my swim trunks,
or paddling pants or drysuit. It's that natural a move.

People make all sort of excuses for not wearing one
and I believe its because they haven't been
scared enough by mother nature just yet in their paddling

It's a little like that cyclist who flips
over his handle bars on concrete
and then wears a helmet

I ALWAYS wear my PFD
well, I did go on a cruise a few years ago and didn’t wear it on the ship. I wear it on whitewater, flatwater, lakes, river, saltwater marsh, creeks, and swamps- in a canoe, a kayak, a duck, or a raft.

That’s me. You do what you want. Call it what you want as well: a lifejacket, pfd, lifevest- it doesn’t matter. If you wear it your safer than if you don’t. I’ve never finished a day of paddling and thought- I wish I hadn’t worn my lifejacket today. On the other hand there have been many days I was glad I made the decision to wear it. Personally, I find “open water” to be one of the most intimidating environments,a place where I would want to wear a pfd the most. A change in shore topography/weather/wind/waves can result in a sudden shift in conditions. I’m an old boyscout, better to “be prepared”. As far as shallow being safer, that’s where I dislocated a shoulder - glad I had my lifejacket on that day as well. It makes a nice sling. check it out at 4:17

It’s become second nature and a wise habit.

Inflatable belt?
An area kayak shop had a picture of one of their salesman out on the gulf and it appeared he wasn’t wearing his PFD. So many people commented they posted a caption saying he had on an inflatable belt type PFD

I wear my Astral unless I’m spending more time dragging my canoe than paddling, then I switch to my Fisherman’s PFD

1. I was a man overboard one time, in the middle of the Chesapeake, and all I had was my shorts. A passing boat picked me up after I survival bobbed for a few hours. A few hours by myself, during which my survival odds were dwindling, made an impression, and that’s an experience I will never repeat, because I wear that PFD all the time, even on power boats.

2. Wearing the pfd models good behavior for people that might not know any better.


…if I’m out on the water, it’s on me.

It saved my life.
See pg 251 of More Deep Trouble. I made enough stupid mistakes and assumptions that day that my survival margin was razor thin. A Dr. told me later I was within minutes of losing consciousness.

The PFD’s flotation kept me higher in the water and provided insulation , while saving effort to stay afloat.

I always wear it and keep my radio on it or in the deck bag.



ALWAYS! my rule is lifejacket on
WHENEVER I am on the water, openwater, closedwater, shallowwater, deepwater.