Safety Gear - Whats in your PFD?

@string said:
YOU Must NEVER use your knife for anything but saving your life or someone else’s!
Only virgin blades can save you.

That must be why mine keep leaving me.

Lets see… the rules for paddling the Yukon 1000 mile race require that in a pocket, or attached to your PFD contain several items. A whistle and another signal device (mirror), a fire starting kit, a small knife, a credit card, $20U.S, $20CDN, and an emergency mylar or other (SOS) bivy sack. I include a spare set of batteries for my GPS, plus a set for my SPOT (a separate requirement). Except for the CC, CDN cash and bivy, everything else is normally always in my PFD pocket (Kokotat Orbit) for regular normal paddling trips.

When paddling whitewater, I wear an Astral Green Jacket PFD with a zippered pocket on the front. On the outside of the PFD is a fixed blade knife and a whistle. This Type V jacket has a quick release tow tether and I have a “cowtail” tow tether in a small side pocket of the PFD.

I carry an 80’ heavy duty throw bag in the boat, and wear a 60’ lighter throw bag on a quick release belt. Also around my waist is a loop of 1" tubular webbing for a drag system anchor secured with a locking carabiner.

Inside the pocket of the PFD are three more locking 'biners, two prussik loops, three lightweight pulleys and a small folding saw. When doing day trips or longer in semi-remote areas in cold weather I have also carried lightweight, 2 person bothy bag (bivy shelter), magnesium fire starter, and tinder.


@string said:
YOU Must NEVER use your knife for anything but saving your life or someone else’s!
Only virgin blades can save you.

Hey, who’s to say it didn’t? Some people get pretty nasty when they’re hungry!!

@pblanc said:
2 person bothy bag

Handy for those inconvenient drownings, but doesn’t that get heavy when you zip up 2 bodies inside?

A bothy is not a bivy sack. It is more like a very small, two person tent without a floor. It rolls up very compact and the sil-nylon ones are very light. It “erects” virtually instantaneously. It is big enough to cover two people in a sitting position huddled fairly close together. You hold up the center with a paddle, hiking pole, a stick, or just your heads, and there is enough fabric to tuck underneath you to sit on to secure it.

It is an extremely quick way to get a severely hypothermic individual sheltered from wind and/or rain and warm them with the body heat of another inidividual, so long as the hypothermic person is able to sit up with the help of the second individual.

But you would not want to spend the weekend together in one.

Did anyone else get my play on words? Bothy -> BODY


I’ve been in a bothy bag before, for less than 5 minutes before I started to overheat. I went out to enjoy the cold rain.

cigarettes and fire

Yeah - I saw that

Although I some how find my thing of something to put cheap wine in.

Sounds like most everyone is conscientious about carrying safety/emergency gear with them. One word of caution, do not attach anything to your zipper pull on your PFD (you often see paddlers attach their whistle to the pull). Upon a re-entry recovery, whatever is attached to zipper pull can become snagged on kayak or attachments and as paddler climbs up onto deck, the item catches and caused the PFD to unzip. If you fall back into the water, your lifejacket can slip off - creating a new problem for you. Be Safe, Be Smart, Have fun out there (see more safety tips at or read the safety tips else here on

@Mike.S said:
What do you carry for safety equipment while kayaking?
I primarily do Sea Kayaking in and around the island of Martha’s Vineyard 10 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. I carry a lot of safety equipment to help protect myself should an emergency arise.

I wear a Kokatat MSFit PFD (has lots of pockets) and in colder times a Kokatat Radius Drysuit.

In/On my PFD: Whistle, compact airhorn, signal mirror, luggage tag type photo ID with emergency contact info, sea dye (green), waterproof flashlight with sos flash pattern, ResQlink + PLB (epirb), smoke flare (orange), Marine VHF radio with MMSI distress code (MMSI registered to my kayak), NRS Titanium Pilot rescue knife, sunscreen/chapstick, hand held compass, two glow sticks, Kokatat Tributary Hydration Pack, waterproof strobe light on back lash tab, in the hydration extra pocket I carry two hand held flares. I also wear a rescue throw/tow line (50ft) with a 25ft Sea Rescue Streamer. It sounds like a lot and YES I still float in the water with all the extra equipment.

On my deck: I carry an “Floating Emergency Rescue Dry Bag” to quickly grab if I go in the water under rough conditions with possibility of getting separated from my kayak. This dry bag has a flare gun with 8 additional flares, two glow sticks, spare batteries (for VHF radio, strobe and flashlight) compact emergency blanket, neoprene hat, small 1st aid kit with Zofran for nausea, Motrin, sunblock, chap stick and cell phone in second waterproof pouch, current float plan with spare waterproof chart, multi tool.

I then carry the standard on my deck: Second paddle, hand pump, sponge, paddle float, deck compass, luggage tag type emergency info ID card and marine chart

It may be a little overkill but I do kayak in the ocean with strong winds and currents. I rather have as much as I can vs wishing I had something that I don’t. For those not sure of the Sea Rescue Streamer check it out of the web. I saw it on Shark Tank and knew I needed one of those also.
As far as my skill levels I have good skills and have taken several safety classes and feel comfortable using my equipment and skills to get back into my kayak.
What do you carry to be safe, its always nice to chat with others to see what they carry.

Wow! A wishlist for Everyone! Thanks for sharing! :slight_smile: