Whistle on PFD

The article on the paddling.net homepage mentions not attaching a whistle to the zipper on your PFD. It says it is unsafe and makes you look like a dork (or something like that). I have one attached to my PFD zipper and don’t care about looking like a dork, but if there is a safey issue, I’d like to know it. All I can think of is the possibility of it snagging on something and unzipping the PFD. But I have a buckle backup.

I saw that too, LRed.

– Last Updated: Aug-11-06 9:20 PM EST –

I wondered the same thing. Use it and unzip the PFD was all I could think also.

Now, a warped skeg, I can see how that'd be a safety issue. But a pea-less whistle on a PFD zipper?


"marks you as a major rookie!"
Isn’t that reason enough?

But seriously, it could catch while doing a paddle float re=entry and unzip your PFD.

My biggest concern, and the reason I don’t attatch one to my zip is that I think there is a chance of damaging (breaking) the zipper slider. That would result in a manufacturer repair, or replacement ($$)


Or not. Whatever.

yup pretty dorky
and isn’t it hard to reach it to get a good hoot on it?

spent the evening out kayaking on the windy sea. pretty intense, good thing i made it back alive, what with my safety compromised boat. gotta do something about that warped skeg before it leads to my demise…

If it’s on a tie that’s long enough to
use it without taking it off it can whip around and hit you in the eye or snag on something and unzip the PFD. And it’s in the way of cross strokes.

I fasten mine on my left shoulder where it’s out of the way and can be used hands free if necessary. Like the time some drunks were shooting at stuff in the river and I needed both hands to paddle while I blew the whistle to get their attention.

why would you
attach it to your zipper? Not sure about the dorkiness factor but it seems as if depending on the pfd, that you would be expending more energy and tying up more resources (i.e., two hands) to get to it when all you have to do is attach it to your shoulder as mentioned above and blow your little heart out.

If anyone has seen my non tilley hat you would understand that I am an expert on “dorkiness” and I don’t think the whistle applies. My waterproof socks, white legs, and double spray skirt on the other hand are not a pretty picture…and probably do qualify for the dorkiness award.



The 17th unwritten rule…
…of boating is: When wearing boating gear, the

farther you are from your boat, the dorkier you


If out of the boat
Even with the Kokatat PFD having internal clips I wouldn’t want the zipper to be pulled loose due to a snagged whistle, since I have a knife and magnifying plate for reading charts in the inner pocklet behind the zipper. I can see that happening even being the rescuer in an assisted one - at my size I really have to be hard onto the other person’s boat and rigging to stabilize it for a big person. And I can see access problems w/it on the zipper no matter how you cut it, especially since I have found that only the larger whistles make enough noise to be useful in a real situation.

My most serious concern with it on the zipper though - I had one occassion in July where I could have needed it when out of the boat. My paddling companions were well ahead of me on a day paddle and unaware that I had blown my scull to cool off. I ended up rolling up, but realized later that the way I had it tethered on a loose line to my shoulder would have been the only way to safely get to it while swimming. I’ve rolled any number of times with the whistle and/or nose clips hanging (after being wet for the better part of the last two seasons I need to use a mask and ear plugs to protect against sinus and various orifice issues) and have never had those dangling smaller things be a problem.

I have mine teathered on a short …
bungie tied to my PFD pocket. The bungie allows the line to be short, but still stretch to my mouth when needed. I’ve had this set up for three years and do a fair amount of rescue practice and have never had a problem with the whistle. I have also carried one of those mini key chain style LED flashlights on my PFD zipper pull for several years and not had any problem doing rescue practices or having the zipper catch and come open. It is a lot thinner than the whistle though. I had a rescue hook cliped into the sheath attached to the lash point and this comes out of the sheath frequently during rescue practices, so now I tuck the body of the hook in the PFD pocket and it is no longer a problem. The one item I have lost three times during rescue practices is the bite valve on my PFD mounted hydrator. It doesn’t take much to pull off a platypus valve.


I have a whistle on my zipper pull…
…and I just tuck it and the line attached to it inside of my PFD. The whistle stays out of the way between chest and PFD, and is handy if/when needed.


I can’t find the post
but within the past year someone posted about how he almost bit it because he kept getting entangled on his whistle while upsidedown. The whistle floated up into his hands. Why tempt fate? Put it somewhere out of the way, like on a shoulder strap.

Interesting comments
Thanks for the replies. It gives me a lot to think about. Might try the shoulder attachment. However, the way my PFD fits me, the whistle is easily accessible on the zipper pull. Need one hand free to get it. I do not have it on a string, just the “keychain” style ring attached to the zipper pull. I’ve been wearing it this way for at least a couple of years and don’t recall having any problems doing re-entries during rescue practice.

put the dang whistle where you feel most comfortable. Then go out ( with a safty boat near by) and practice s bunch of self rescues. The way I get into boat is different then the way the canunut gets in a boat. Talking about self rescue doesn’t mean you are capable of it or that you will do it the same way as the poster. I have swamped the boat I was in a bunch of times and self recovered, in moderate to medium waves. Other boats / partners I swim for shore, so practice.

If the whistle gives you no problem after 5-10 practice runs leave it there and laugh at the dork factor. If it effects your safty get it out of there.

Who says it has to dangle?

– Last Updated: Aug-13-06 6:42 AM EST –

I've never undersood why anyone says it has to dangle, given the obvious problems with snagging or other consequences of loose lines.

I keep mine on a short tether to the ring inside a pocket, and stuff the whistle and tether into the near upper corner of the pocket. It's about 10-12 inches from my mouth, and there are no exposed lines on the pfd.

Can I get to it fast enough when it's in my pocket? Actually, it's probably faster. I know exactly where the whistle itself is, and it's right at the pocket corner, so I don't even have to open the flap. But if it's dangling I don't know precisely where it is, and have to fumble for it or reel it in by the tether... not that half a second is ever going to be crucial in deploying a whistle.


So Much…
over where to hang a whistle… :slight_smile:


Wondered what that orange thing hanging
off my pfd, thanks for the information.

Just make sure that you can get to your whistle when you want to without having to rummage through pockets to get it.

As to the dorkage image; remember kayakers can wear mango drytops, have a lime green kayak and a raddish spraydeck and call it fashionable because it’s functional (safety). We just won’t tell them that the colors were on sale. Remember the people that are judging are on land and not having nearly as much fun as you are on the water.

See you on the water, fashionable so :wink: