Ever needed a pfd or a helmet?

Yes for the PFD no for the helmet.
I have never brained myself in the little WW or surfing I do but I was playing in Salmoneir when a colleague bashed his head pretty soundly and he had a helmet on.

PFD and Dry suit have kept me out of a great deal of trouble a couple of times and the confidence they instill allowed one rescue that looked simple but was in truth a bugger.


and that’s another key
…one less thing to think about when your time to think is limited.

I figure my dead body will float higher
with a PFD, so it can be delivered sooner to my widow.

Boat to the head
At Little Falls of the Potomac, in a tandem canoe, we stopped and scouted. I clipped my helmet to a thwart as we climbed the rocks to pick our line. We jumped back in the boat and I forgot to put the helmet back on.

One thing I hate about capsizing with no other boats around, there’s nobody to tell you what happened. So I’m not sure exactly how we ended up in the water, but we did. My partner swam free, and I grabbed a painter and was floating along behind the canoe just like the book says, feet up, paddle in one hand. The volume and force of water in Little Falls is daunting for open boaters, but it is known as a forgiving place to screw up, because you usually wash through and there are no more rapids below it. That eventually happened, but not before the canoe went into a hole and stopped. I followed close behind, saw the canoe coming, and tried to dive under. This is supposed to be about helmets, but maybe it was my pfd that kept me from getting under the boat. Anyway, the boat hit me on the forehead and split the skin open. It wasn’t a particualry hard hit, but forehead skin is soft!

So, yes, I have needed a helmet. I’ve swum plenty of rapids, too, and while maybe I could have done it without PFD, it is a nice comfort. I have also been poked by protruding limbs a few times that made me happy to have the padding of the pfd. Got stuck in the canoe once and dragged over some rocks. Didn’t hit my helmet, but was very happy to have the pfd take most of the hit from the rocks. Might not need it, but sure like my PFD.

I forgot it last Saturday and felt naked. I was with a strong group on a mild section of water, so I went anyways, but I felt naked.


PFD … yup
every time ah’ git in de water. Sink like a lead Pamlico. Helmet - only when ah’ paddled bow wit me ex-wife.

Fat Elmo

Yes to both…

– Last Updated: Dec-04-07 2:13 PM EST –

Anytime I paddle I wear my pfd.
Anytime I paddle whitewater I wear both pfd and helmet.

Helmet has saved my head from some nasty shots; mostly rocks, but once from my own canoe.
I think if I hadn't been wearing the helmet when the canoe hit me, it would have knocked me out.

Pfd has saved me from some nasty shots to my back & ribs. Has also assisted me in swimming (unintentionally) some class IIIs.

I'm officially out of the "pfd wars"; do whatever you want too.

P.S. I "always" carry a spare paddle, a throw bag, & a first aid kit too.

I think
we just went through all this about two weeks ago in another thread

No…to both
Reading the threads shows there is a time and place for everything and this is the choir. If you feel you need it… wear it. Just don’t let your safety standards violate another paddlers right to make the same choice.

and please don’t add the whining story about “if I have to save you”

To wear or not to wear?
I always carry a PFD and wear it most of the time. But frankly, one of the most likely ways I see myself dying is getting run down by a powerboat. I’ve already had one very close call with one of those small jet drive powered boats showing off in a narrow estuary. The best escape might be to jump off the surfski and swim down below the props. Wearing a PFD would be deadly in this situation.

Here is a story with pics about some guys (Greg Barton & Adam Van K) who had a near miss with a powerboat:


Here is a story of a couple guys that did not get out of the way in time:


i have clobbered my forehead by a harsh breaking wave while heading out surfing before…

plus been run over by a friend accidental surfing too…

pfd: yep…got into a situation last year where i was in the water out of boat for a bit and a cg boat came and picked me up…

i now also wear a tow belt surfing too…


greg also has a story about not wearing
a pfd and wishing he really had one.

Florida paddlers
Speaking of pfd’s can any of you Florida paddlers recommend a low profile relatively cool pfd? It’s December and I’m still cooking when I go out. I feel like I’m wearing a down vest.

PFD yes
28 years ago, in my very foolish youth, I lost a canoe by wrapping it around a boulder after going over a cascade. The PFDs provided good floatation as my bride and I tried to free the boat and gather our gear. It really came in handy after the sun went down for warmth as we hiked out to our car. We broke so many paddling safety rules that I’m embarrassed to think about it. We didn’t even own helmets.

Now I always wear one if paddling or sailing alone. If in the kayak, I tend to wear it even in company of others. I wear it less often if in the canoe with someone, all things being dependent on the conditions.

That’s called a bobber
It makes it easier for the sharks…If you don’t think you need a PFD,then by all means don’t wear it…Can I have your boat after you’re gone?

You Can Probably Get Away With Neither
and live to a ripe old age, if you’re a consistent warm water, pond paddler.


I once had to write a report on the
death of an expert WW canoeist who drowned while paddling without a PFD, on a warm day, on a very easy stretch of river.

He had a seizure disorder that was not completely controlled by medication.

His buddies noticed he was not with them, turned upriver and saw his boat. If he had been wearing his PFD, they might have spotted him as well, in time to prevent drowning or at least in time for CPR to be effective. But without a PFD, he wasn’t spotted in time.

In more difficult whitewater, turbulence and currents are such that a person may drown even though wearing a PFD, but that PFD means that others may be able to try CPR. I remember an account of someone who wet-exited at the top of the Chattooga Narrows in high water. He and his PFD were pulled way down below and didn’t reappear for several minutes. When he came up, he was blue and barely breathing. With no PFD, he would not have come up, or would not have been spotted and pulled out of the water.

I only needed a seatbelt once.

– Last Updated: Dec-05-07 2:40 PM EST –

Other than the time I rolled my Explorer nearly 9 years ago, I have never been in an accident.

I wear my pfd with the hope I will never need it. Actually, there was one time I wasn't wearing it and wished I had. Some friends and I were kayak surfing (not even very big waves on the Texas coast in summer) and I wiped out, stood up, and my friend Garth hit me in the ribs, cracking one or two. I was groaning in my sleep for a couple weeks after that. Had I been wearing my PFD it might have provided some cushioning.

Nope, I go commando
Was that too much information?

…and it’s only november.

What is the point?
I’ve never needed a seatbelt in a car, but I still use it.

I’ve never needed my spare tire, but I still have one.

I’ve never needed a seatbelt in an airplane, but I still use it.

I’ve never needed homeowner’s insurance, but I still own it.

I’ve never needed a smoke detector, but I still have one.

I’ve never needed a carbon monoxide detector, but I still have one.

I’ve never needed to look both ways when crossing the street, but I still do.

I never needed to wear a batting helmet when I played baseball, but I still did.

What I don’t get is why people think a PFD is a nuisance. Are those people really that fragile or just provocative?