What personal incident convinced you to always wear your PFD?

I just read the account of almost drowning on Lake Michigan.
Mine was paddling the Edisto on Dec 27 a few years ago. The air temp was 70 and the water was 41. I was wearing a bathing suit and a t-shirt. The river was high and the section we were in was narrow and stump infested. I still remember being pitched over the bow when the canoe capsized and going under briefly . THE PFD popped me up . If a safety idea needed reinforcement, that was it.


I have never not worn mine all the time, but I have also done enough rescues over the years and seen enough folks almost drown due to either not wearing a PFD , wearing a really bad one (ala 1970’s Montgomery Wards), or not wearing them properly to reinforce my good habit. The worst was a couple in a coleman canoe wrapped around a bridge piling in very swift water with their feet trapped under the seats and no PFDs. If not for two of our strongest paddlers being able to reach them and hold their heads out of the water by their hair, they would have been gone in minutes.


No personal incident, just common sense.


Totally true. It shouldn’t take a near death experience to convince you to wear one. I’ve read enough stories of people drowning to not want to be the next.


Yes, also never considered not doing so. My years flying hang gliders maybe emphasized that you just don’t “not use” a standard and convenient piece of safety equipment. My PDF is quite comfortable, no reason not to wear it, and now it would feel very weird to be out without it. My one and only unplanned swim so far would not have been fatal without it, but I was a LOT happier with it on (and it probably helped me to save my partners kayak as it floated by). always on AND zipped up for me.

One time I was coming back downstream on an unfamiliar section of river with lots of fallen trees and misjudged one and couldn’t duck low enough and took a full body shot and light head bump on the tree as I came to a sudden stop holding the tree. I saw stars (more like bugs) and had a mild shock response but after a few moments I was fine and continued. I was happy to be wearing a PFD being alone in the woods.

I think one can’t really know why you might really need one. All kinds of things happen that almost never happen.

Used my brain.


What a concept!

It escapes many till they’re going under for the last count sadly.

My PFD is hot as hell and made for jet skiing and wakeboarding but I wouldn’t go without it.

Comfortable PFD are worth the $$$ and last a long time.


Back in 2004. Was my first trip with my local club. I had my PFD on, but it wasn’t zipped or buckled. I was politely told to do both, and have ever since.

This was us - I’m wearing an old ribbed PFD - you can see the belt isn’t buckled.


Best paddling advice I ever got.

I got old. Somewhere my ego decided survival was more important than looks. Besides I needed a place for camera, horn, wallet , phone, etc. Paddling and fishing vests often come with pockets.

When I got my first kayak, I made a promise to my wife to always wear a pfd, every time, whether alone or with others. Now I’m old like Overstreet, so continuing to keep the promise just seems like good sense.

All of them.

When I gave up my gills.

1 Like

no discrete incident. Just practicing putting one on in the water and trying to at the same time hold on to boat and paddle

1 Like

The latest was this week when we dipped a rail on the drift boat and half filled the boat with water. I was able to pull over and pump it out.

All of the rivers in the West are high, cold and fast and running about one river classification higher than normal.

I hit four different ponds and lakes today and with the exception of two little kids hitching a ride on their moms paddle board, I didn’t see anyone wearing one besides me. I guess the new motto of New Hampshire is “Live Free or Die Drowning.”

1 Like

My failure to advance past what they called “5th Grade” after 3 years in childhood swimming classes, which amounted to swimming the length of the pool without dying

1 Like