Standup paddle board PFD

I’ve been surfing the net and looking at inflatable paddle boards to take camping. Most photos I come across lack PFDs. Do most people where them?

Based on what I see on the water here a very small percentage of people on paddle boards actually wear a pfd. Sometimes it is hard to see if they are wearing a belt pack inflatable though, unless you’re very close. Some have a pfd on the board but many have nothing. CG requires a pfd and whistle, same as a kayak, but no mandate to wear unless it is an inflatable pfd.

In Maryland the USCG and Marine Police are very aggressive in requiring people on SUPs to have a PFD. Most people seem to like the compact belt worn Type V inflatables which must be worn and not just carried. Type IIIs only need to be present and readily available. However, I’ve never seen the value of a PFD not worn properly. If you lose your board, there goes the PFD. Same if you slip and hit your head or suffer some sort of medical issue. A PFD is very difficult to put on once you are in the water, especially while trying to hold on to your board and paddle in rough conditions.

Around Annapolis, no PFD $125. No whistle or other sound producing device, another $125. On inland waters most states still follow USCG regulations.

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I also came across some article about winter paddling on a stand up paddle board. It seem most just advocate staying close to shore and if it’s calm conditions then dressing like your going out for a jog. I guess the kayak community has been around longer and a bit more knowledgeable.

That article is absolutely stunning in its ignorance of the dangers of cold water as well as its lack of knowledge of federal and state boating requirements. I would be tempted to write to the author and the publication and ask them what they could possibly be thinking.

It’s just like when a retailer sells a SUP. You would think that they would inform the buyer what the on-water requirements were and take the opportunity to sell them a PFD and whistle.

I have debated this with a friend of mine who is an avid SUPer and never wears a PFD. His argument is that surfers don’t wear PFD and do just fine. My counter argument is that surfing is much harder than SUPing and this creates a community that is more knowledgeable about the risks of the sport. In cold water, surfers wear heavy wetsuits as getting wet is part of the game. Surfers are around the surf zone where getting back to shore tends not to be a big problem. By contrast, many people in an SUP think they won’t take a swim and don’t know the danger of cold water or adventure in tidal zones without understanding what can go wrong. Maybe you just get cautious after going through some scary situations.

I’m shopping a Bote paddle board on the REI website.before you can add it to your shopping cart you must click accept on a pop up window that lists USCG requirements and some other warnings. At least it’s a start.

There is a USCG exception to having or wearing a PFD in a surf or swim zone. I’m not sure of why this is other than the fact that you will probably spend a lot of time actually swimming and it will prevent a swimmer from ducking under breaking waves or make it more difficult if on a board. Some states prohibit any type of vessel in a swim zone including surf boards. Other states and local jurisdictions require a leash on a surf board or SUP in a swim or surf zone both to reduce the chance of a person being left without a means of flotation or having a loose board endanger other people. Outside of a marked swim zone or in a surf zone, an approved PFD is required at all times.

It has been my experience that there is a vastly greater possibility for a person on a SUP ending up in the water than someone in a kayak.

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Always. No matter what kind of water craft.

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When SUPing, I wear a type III pfd (the same one I would wear when kayaking) and also am leashed to the board.

As said above, the law is a SUP is a vessel, except if in a surf zone or marked swim zone. So outside of the surf or swim zone, a PFD must be carried on the SUP (or if using the Type V inflatable, must be worn) or you could get a citation.

That said, there is an argument that the board itself inherently floats (at least in hard board case - maybe not for inflatables) and that if you are leashed to the board so you can’t get separated, that should count in place of a PFD. But for now, the law does require PFDs as stated above.

This all said, if you are back country camping away from rangers or coast guard, likely not going to be a legal issue.

The SUP industry fought to have an SUP count as a floatation device going back for at least 15 years and has been grumbling about it ever since. The USCG decisively rejected that idea and declared an SUP as a vessel on 10/3/2008.

As Peter mentioned above. The coast guard on the Pacific coast and most shore lifeguards do not require a PFD when using an SUP in the surfzone. Except for the smallest most high performance boards, an SUP is almost impossible to guarantee to stay with the board without a leash in heavy surf. Almost all SUP surfers wear leashes except in competitions where they may interfere with foot maneuvers. In practice with a leash and proper immersion protection, an experienced SUP surfer is just as safe without a PFD. It makes sense to require a PFD be available for touring, whitewater and especially for rentals or beginner paddlers. In reality a leash is much more important for safety than the PFD, if an inexperienced paddler falls in windy conditions, the board will often be out of their ability to swim to it in seconds.

Just to be clear on my original post. I plan on wearing a PFD as I do kayaking or sailing. I just found it surprising that so many don’t.

Wear one of these type V to meet pfd and be SUP stylish. No it has limitations and not as good as a type III