7 Best PFD for kayaking 2023: Personal Flotation Devices go hand in hand with kayaking. There are several threats kayaker goes through while moving on water. Life jackets and PFDs are essential for canoers as well as stand-up paddlers too. PFDs cannot be sold until it is approved by US Coast Guard. Although it has a multitude of usage, our primary focus is on Kayaking Personal Flotation Device. This article will share a purchasing guide to help you choose the proper PFD jackets for your next trip. Besides that, we will also review the top 7 PFDs for kayaking 2023 in the online market.
- Types of Kayak PFDs 2023:
- Standard PFDs
- Standard PFD pros:
- Standard PFDs cons:
- Inflatable PFDs:
- Inflatable PFDs pros:
- Inflatable PFD cons:
- Features to look out for in PFDs:
- Ventilating Mesh:
- #1: NRS cVest Mesh Back PFD
- #2: Summer Mae Inflatable Life Jacket Automatic/Manual Inflatable PFD
- #3: Stohlquist FIT Youth (50-90 Lbs.) High Mobility PFD Life Jacket Vest – Coast Guard Approved for Kids
- #4: Airhead Orca Life Jacket | PFD Made of Soft Kwik-Dry Neolite Material
- #5: NRS Vapor Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)
- #6: Harmony Gear Kickback II Two Tone
- #7: Oceans 7 USCG Universal Fit Adult Sized Life Jacket, US Coast Guard Approved
- Our recommendation:
Types of Kayak PFDs 2023:
There are two types of PFDs in the market:
Standard PFDs are usually used by the recreational kayaker. These PFDs do not need to be inflated as it contains foam. The buoyancy in this PFD is inherent and keeps the user floating in case of an emergency. Most such jackets are known to be Type 3 USCG-approved.
Standard PFD pros:
- Inherently buoyant:Standard PFD does not need to be activated in the water as it offers optimum buoyancy.
- Low Maintenance:Besides keeping it clean and dry, it does not need additional care.
- Contain Pockets: Pockets are themost significant plus point in the standard PFDs. Users can keep all their precious belonging, including mobile phones and cash, in case of emergency.
Standard PFDs cons:
- Heavy:The PFD can get heavy for the users due to its overall design. Therefore, the paddling kayaker might not be able to move comfortably.
- Raising temperature:Standard PFD can get unsettlingly hot on sweltering summer days. The foam inside the jacket can make you sweat like crazy.
These PFDs are ergonomically designed, making them the slim and lightweight option. The inflatable jacket is categorized as type 3 and type 5 United States Coast Guard-approved PFD. This type of jacket is either automatic or manual. The automatic ones get inflated once it is submerged into water. In contrast, the inflatable ones come with a cord that needs to be pulled for inflating purposes. It works on a CO2 gas cartridge.
Inflatable PFDs pros:
- Utmost comfort:These personal floating devices offer the user premium comfort while paddling and do not cause any obstruction.
- Cool:As it covers a contoured area of the body than the standard PFD. Besides that, its ergonomic design keeps the user ventilated even in the scorching heat of the sun.
Inflatable PFD cons:
- Required maintenance:These inflatable PFDs require a lot of maintenance than the standard PFDs. Once the vest is inflated, it requires a new CO2 cartridge replacement.
- Not suitable for high-impact activities:The kayak jacket is highly unsuitable for whitewater kayakers as it does not offer proper buoyancy in rigorous currents. Besides that, it is also not suitable for individuals under the age of sixteen as this PFD can get hard to handle.
Features to look out for in PFDs:
Following are crucial information to consider while purchasing the jacket:
When kayaking pockets are significant, it gives space for keeping precious belongings water-free during an emergency. Ost pockets are designed to be on the front.
Knives can be attached to the front with the help of tabs. Always analyze the number of tabs and their location on the vest.
Bright colors always highlight the visibility of the user. Usually, bright orange and yellow colors are preferred for the PFD jacket.
Mesh in the PFDs makes it breathable during sweltering summer days kayaking. Check the mesh design on the vest and choose according to the hotness level of weather in areas you kayak.
Usually, the PFDs require twelve pounds of flotation to keep the user above water. Do not consider the number we have sourced only. If you can find higher floatation PFD, then go for it as it will take you over the water surface without much hassle with a lesser chance of drowning.
#1: NRS cVest Mesh Back PFD
It is a highly versatile PFD that works best on both canoers and kayakers. The ergonomic construction of the vest does not let the users feel hot even in high heat. NRS has never disappointed its user regarding PFDs; from high quality to efficient designing, users get it all with their kayaking vests. Although it is an excellent quality kayak, we would still not recommend it to short-height kayakers as its length is very generous. There are six large-sized pockets in this PFD model that allows users to carry all their precious belonging at a time. Many attachment points are available in the PFD that allows users to carry protective gears like knives.
The kayaking PFD is considered a Type 3 vest with 16.5 floatation’s in the USCG category. The front entry zipper giver full customization to the users. When it comes to overall construction, rip stop nylon is used on the outer and inner surfaces. As per the honest reviews, this kayaking PFD is perfect for sea tours. If you are a large-framed individual, this life vest is made to cater to your needs.
- It contains six large-sized pockets
- It comes in beautiful colors
- It is light in weight
- It is expensive
- The jacket is not ideal for medium-sized or small-sized individuals
#2: Summer Mae Inflatable Life Jacket Automatic/Manual Inflatable PFD
It is Japan’s one of the largest jacket assortments. The PFD comes under self-inflation, making it convenient for users to touch water surfaces during a kayaking trip. Wearing and taking off the jacket is extremely easy as it comes with straightforward pinch buckles. According to the manufacturer, the CO2 cartridge takes about 3 seconds to fully inflate the vest in water. Besides that, it is a universal PFD that fits every individual under 150Kgs of weight.
The PFD jacket from Summer Mae gets compact once deflated, making it easy to carry it to places. Once purchased, the kayak jacket can be reused. Automatic PFDs can be scary for the user as it instills a fear of not opening at the right place and time. However, this PFD has gone through extensive tests ensuring proper inflation to the users when required.
- It is safe for reuse
- The PFD is compact in size
- It has a unique design than others sourced on the list
- The PFD pulls up in the back, making it uncomfortable for the user
- It is not suitable for people with a weight of over 150 kgs
#3: Stohlquist FIT Youth (50-90 Lbs.) High Mobility PFD Life Jacket Vest – Coast Guard Approved for Kids
When reviewing PFDs, we did not forget to source about life vests ideal for kids. Water safety is equally important for kids as it is for adults. The front zip entrance of the life vest makes it easy for young adults to wear the life vest and adjust it according to their bodies. The quick buckles in the life vest ensure that PFD will not pull up to their torso during use. This life vest comes with one large pocket that allows kids to keep their belongings water-free when it comes to pockets.
The Stohlquist PFD is made from 200-denier Nylon fabric, making it abrasion and rip-resistant. When it comes to the inside of the jacket, it is made from 200-denier oxford material. Kids can wear the jacket all day long comfortably as the jacket contains-an excellent ventilation system. Multiple sizes and colors are available for this Stohlquist PFD model.
- It is cheaper than others on the list
- It provides 12-14 buoyancy
- It comes with a v neck cut, making it perfect for younger ages
- The armhole of the jacket is too far down
- Some customers complained regarding the design issues of the life vest
#4: Airhead Orca Life Jacket | PFD Made of Soft Kwik-Dry Neolite Material
Airhead is acing when it comes to manufacturing high-quality life jackets. The US coast guard approved PFD ticks all the corners for customers and provided utmost safety while kayaking. The manufacturer has used Neolite cloth, making it comfortable for the user to wear it throughout the day without sweating too much. Another good thing about his PFD vest is that it comes in many sizes and colors, making a choice easier for the customers.
You can wear the Airhead Orca Life jacket in several types of water without the fear of drowning, as the life jacket is made to keep you above water no matter how aggressive the water stream may be. With a zipper closure and hidden strap, the life jacket remains on the body throughout the day. When it comes to categorizing, the jacket is considered a Type 3 USCG-approved PFD vest.
- It is excellent for water sports
- It is available in child, young adults, and adult sizes
- For added comfort, the life jacket comes with a hinged design
- It is stated to be more expensive than others sourced on the list
- The size charts for the PFD are two generous for medium to small-framed individuals
#5: NRS Vapor Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)
NRS Vapor kayak is known for its elegant yet straightforward design among kayakers and paddlers. The jacket is cheaper than other alternatives in the market. Whether you are a male or a female, the PFD fits perfectly with everyone. While reviewing the product, our primary duty is to inform potential customers about the negative aspects. There are no pockets and any other strap management, making some areas of kayaking difficult.
There are four unique colors available in this model of NRS with a wide range ofsizes too so that people of the different frames can be easily adjusted. If you are looking for a highly lightweight PFD vest, nothing can beat this one. As per the USCG regulation, this PFD is categorized as Type 3 as it offers around 16.5 flotation buoyancy. Another much-talked jacket feature is its adjustable straps that make the PFD contour as per your body shape.
- It is extremely comfortable
- It is cheaper than others on the list
- The PFD is an excellent lightweight option
- Many complained regarding the reusability of the PFD
#6: Harmony Gear Kickback II Two Tone
Harmony has made a great name in the world of Kayaking Gears. The Kickback model is famous among users for its alluring two-tone design and ergonomic construction. There are many sizes available in this jacket so that users can choose as per their needs. Although the price range is slightly higher when compared to others on the list, considering the overall built is premium, the price can be justified. For comfortable portage, the shoulders come with buckles. Most PFD jackets are tough to clean because they can rip with rigorous washing.
On the other hand, Harmony PFD can be washed in the washing machine. The construction fabric is the nylon that keeps breathability and comfortability on higher levels. With two large front pockets, you can keep all your precious belonging in one place during an emergency.
- This PFD is highly Light weight and compact.
- It is easy to wear.
- The PFD is washing machine friendly.
- Many users complained regarding the hefty price rate of the PFD.
#7: Oceans 7 USCG Universal Fit Adult Sized Life Jacket, US Coast Guard Approved
The US Coast Guard-approved PFD jacket does not need an introduction. It has been widely liked by users for its premium quality and efficiency. The open-sided design of the PFD makes users comfortable throughout the day, even ata higher temperature. For inherent buoyancy, the vest contains high-density EPE foam that keeps the person’s head up once it hits the water. It is designed to fit adults above 90lbs. The life jacket comes under the mid-range category when it comes to price. Many users praised the double nylon construction of the jacket.
- It has double nylon construction.
- It is cheaper than others on the list.
- The PFD comes in many sizes.
- The side straps of the jacket are not sturdy.
Although all the sourced PFDs are exceptional, our eyes are set on one exceptional product. Suppose you want to invest your money wisely. In that case, we recommend you purchase NRS cVest PFD as it is a perfect package at a considerable price. Users widely like the product. Its self-inflation property is always on-point too.