I’m not quite what you’d call a “prepper”, but I have been known to try to consider plenty of likely (and not-so-likely) scenarios and make sure I’m well prepared to handle them.
In keeping with this tradition, I try to stock the limited space in my PFD with useful and possibly life-saving items. I think I’m more prepared than many, but there’s also room for improvement with what I carry. I’m going to list everything below and I encourage you to add your own list and a picture or two, along with your own justifications for carrying said items. Everyone paddles in different environments and under differing conditions, so there’s no one-size-fits all solution here. I’ll be picking and choosing what works for me, and I hope some others can pick up some useful tips as well.
My paddling environment is mostly Georgian Bay (fresh water) , Ontario, Canada. I paddle year-round being much more conservative with distances from shore and overall day trip distances during the winter. Of course I carry lots of other safety, survival and comfort gear but the idea of this post is to look at what you’re left with have if separated from your boat and gear.
My PFD (Kokatat Outfit)
Mounted to outside:
- Fox40 whistle
- Short serrated knife
- Digital watch
- Pig tail with carabiners - attached to tow belt and shoulder strap while paddling, used with short tow line in Pocket 1.
Inside mesh sleeve:
- Kyocera Brigadier smart phone (tethered, very waterproof)
Pocket 1 (my right):
- 20’ floating loose poly braided line, carabiner and brummel eye splice (eye attaches to pig tail carabiner to use as tow rope, easily removed and quickly re-stowed in non-tangling lay)
- Vehicle key (small outside mesh zippered pocket, tethered)
- VHF Radio
Pocket 2 (my left):
- “Ditch kit” in waterproof container: (Lighter [fire], cotton pads [fire], 2 orange garbage bags [shelter, signaling], safety pins [repair, first aid], fishing hooks, weights and line [food - maybe, repair], mirror [signaling], bandages, alcohol wipe)
What could be added/improved?
- Better signaling options - flares?
- Smaller more reliable fire starter
- Better shelter option, while still being very small
- Additional first aid supplies