Which PFD for kids: Canoe in still water

Just looking for some guidance here. Would like to take the kids canoeing on a lazy brown river near my house. No rough water anywhere, and the time on water is limited – maybe an hour or so tops in a trip. It’s really just local paddling. The river might be 100’ at the widest (Narrower sometimes).

My kids are two skinny girls – 8 and 5. Though both have taken lessons, neither are swimmers – the youngest hasn’t learned yet and the older is too unsure of herself.

What kind of PFDs do I need? The outdoor store near where I live sold me two Type III style PFDs for 50-90lb kids, but it seems big on the little one, and also reading the literature with the PFD, it’s indicating that for kids who can’t swim, a type II is better.

Any practical advice here?

Also, is being on the rive like being in the ocean – there needs to be a PFD for each adult on board as well? (though not necessarily worn).

I’m asking specifically on a slow moving, calm river on a canoe. I realize the answer could be different on a big lake or on salt water.

Thanks for any help.

Many states require life jackets worn
by any child under 13 on any water, and I’d never allow a child (or adult even) in a canoe or yak anywhere without a properly fitted life jacket on, no matter how good they claim to swim. Should be snug enough so shoulder straps don’t go past their ears when pulled up. Shop around for a good fitting one in a color or pattern they like. My thoughts. R

I can’t answer on the size or type.

– Last Updated: May-17-09 9:34 AM EST –

for the kids, but it id only common sense to have a PFD for every adult as well.
I can swim as well as anyone, but I don't leave home without my PFD.
Most of the time it is on the back deck and I don't wear it, but once yearly I practice putting it on while I am in the water.
I would not let a non swimmer in a kayak or a canoe unless they were wearing a properly fitted PFD
On the ocean and any place where the coast guard has jurisdiction it is mandatory to have a pfd for each person in the boat. they don't have to be worn, but they have to be on board.
If it is good enough for them, then it is good enough for me where there are no rules.


Thoughts from dad 2 dad
Dad MUST wear P.F.D. at ALL TIMES.If you have a problem, due to not wearing a P.F.D., What are your kids gonna done then?

After you get good fitting PFDs, take the kids to a pool or still water, let them PLAY around with the PFD on. It will prove to them and you that;; “see you float,no troubles”.

I would look
at the MTI Adventurewear products. They have a pretty good assortment of kid specific life jackets that are adjustable to grow with your kids and they are reasonably priced. Child life jackets are selected based on the child’s weight more than overall size, but it’s important to get one that fits well and doesn’t ride up when in the water. A well fitted type III will float non-swimmers. A type II is designed to keep the head out of the water (turn the victim face up if they are unconscious). Type III’s are generally more comfortable to wear and that’s really important, especially for non swimmers.

Keep the swimming lessons going as well. I failed beginning swimming because I couldn’t float. Still can’t without a pfd.



Crotch Straps NM

+1 on Crotch Straps, they are a really
good idea. My little one is right around 47 pounds, so not quite large enough to fit the next size jackets (50-90, and 24" chest.) The jacket she wears now is fairly secure on her body, but because she is so thin there really isn’t any structure or “v” shape to her body that will keep the jacket from riding up, and the crotch strap takes care of this.

I am sure there are many ways of thinking on this, but I wear a PFD at all times when boating with my kid, the last thing I need to be doing in the event of a capsize etc., is to be looking for and trying to put my PFD on. With it on, all I need to be concerned with is insuring that she is safe and comfortable.

Astral Otter
Fits a huge range and looks like a scaled down adult pfd. Fits onto skinny kid bodies very well.

False Economy
Why use 2 words when 146 will do?

For someone so interested
in saving key strokes, thank you so, so much for taking your precious time to add a comment of no relevance to the question at hand…great work!

Back to the topic, Astral Otter is a great jacket, and is what my little one will wear as soon as it fits.

If you can, take them swimming
in their PFD’s. That will help ease any anxiety they might have, and you should be able to figure out if the PFD they are wearing is working for them or not.