Paddle Board Life Jacket - Pakaloa

Paddle Board Life Jacket Guide to Choose

Paddle Board Life Jacket How to Choose The Best One?

People are searching for paddle board life jacket (PFD) to know about it and how it can be beneficial for them. PFD stands for Personal Floatation Device and is also known as a life jacket or life vest. The term Personal Floatation Device is named instead of a life jacket because it sounds professional and also describes you with other technical terms. The popularity of paddle board is increasing day by day and with the time everyone wants to float on water and to take part in water sports which are full of fun and entertainment. Entertainment and fun are important in life but no one should ignore safety.

So, PFD is important which helps you to stay afloat in the water and PFD is one of the essentials of stand-up paddle boarders. There are many kinds of PFD available in the market for people and choosing the best is sometimes a tricky task. The following article will help you to choose the right PFD to enjoy a safe inflatable paddle board ride on the water. 

Types of paddle board life jacket

Different kinds of PFD that can come to your rescue when on water:

Inflatable Belt Packs for SUP

These are really convenient kind of paddle board life jackets for paddle boarders. This is something would recommend all the time. These belt packs can be easily inflated by pulling a ripcord and the magic happens within seconds. It is super convenient because you will need to wear this around your hips like a belt which means you will be hands-free and you will be having maximum freedom of movement. It is really good for people who would need a bit of security when out in the water. The belt pack that I would like to recommend is MTI Adventure wear Fluid 2, Even though it is not the cheapest option but it is definitely worth buying.

Flotation Aids

These are super light-weighted and enables you to freely move as your hands will be free to the point you would not really feel as if you are wearing something extra over you. These are perfect for quick rescue assistance as the person wearing this can turn themselves and be in a face-up position facing the sky until they receive any assistance for their rescue. These can also be used in water skiing or wakeboarding. The Flotation Aid I would like to recommend is the Coleman Floatation vest. It comes with good handling of weight and it comes with a sculpted back for extra support which is necessary when you are in the water.

Nearshore Vests

These vests are perfect if you are in and around calm, in the water where you might require a quick rescue. These are less bulky and less buoyant. Nearshore vests are definitely not something a casual paddler would require or something you would require on a nearby lake. These are used in water of course but somewhere which is calmer like a swimming pool. The Nearshore Vests I would like to suggest is Mustang Nearshore Water Rescue.

Offshore life jackets

These are strong, sturdy, rough, and tough. These are the titans or the kings of the paddle board life jacket world. If you are planning to go hit rough waters or a remote water body then this is the thing you would absolutely need. They have the best buoyancy and turn around heavy bodies in a face-up position. These are perfect ones for somewhere where there is strong water or strong waves.  The offshore jacket I would like to recommend is the Kent Commercial Type. It has a high buoyancy rate and will turn you in the face-up position in no time and keep you floating even in rough waters.

Paddle board life jacket Sizing

While selecting PFD one of the most important things is getting a perfect size. When you go to buy a PFD you will find different sizes for adults and kids. Many people also go for paddling with their dog so paddle board life jacket for a dog is also available in the market and you can also select that according to the size of your dog. 

PFD for adults

The main thing which differentiates adults from a kid is their chest. The chest will determine the size of PFD for adults while weight will determine the size of PFD for kids. To check the chest size, measure your chest at its broadest point. Use your chest number with the manufacturer’s recommendation to get the right size for you. The following are some steps that you can use to get the right PFD. 

  • If you are selecting a standard paddle board life jacket, lose all its straps, put it on, and zip it up. If you are selecting an inflatable PFD, put it on over your head or clip it around your waist. 
  • Start from the waist and tighten up all the straps of the PFD. If your PFD also contains shoulder straps, tighten them last too. The straps shouldn’t be uncomfortable but tight. 
  • If you are selecting a standard PFD, let the shopkeeper pull up the shoulders of the PFD. If it moves tighten the straps and if it keeps moving change the PFD size as it’s too large. 
  • A right size Personal Floatation Device (PFD) must be right, comfortable, and fit like a glove. It should be tight but allow you to move freely while paddling or playing. 

Tips for fit PFD

  • To get your perfect fit PFD, try your PFD in the shop with clothes that you will wear while paddling. It will give you the perfect measurement. 
  • Tight up your PFD and check the movements. It should be comfortable and won’t scratch your shoulders while paddling. To get the exact measurement and to ensure comfortability you can mimic the motion of paddling by grabbing a paddle if available in the shop. It will give you a perfect idea of how you will feel while paddling. 
  • You can test your paddle board life jacket personally, if possible, test it in a pool to see how it works. Your PFD shouldn’t slip up or ride up over your chin while floating. 
  • Selecting a PFD with more straps will allow you to fix your PFD. The more straps a PFD has, the more adjustment can be made to fix it. 
  • Women PFDs are better than unisex PFDs for females as it’s specially made for their body style. 

PFD for kids

We have already talked about sizing differences between kids and adults. Unlike adults, the weight of a kid is measured to get the right and perfect size of the PFD for the kid. Children’s life jackets are further classified according to their age such as PFD for infant, child, or youth. The following is the guide to get paddle board life jacket for kids, children, and youth according to their weight. 

  • Infant PFDs: 8 to 30 pounds
  • Child PFDs: 30 to 50 pounds
  • Youth PFDs: 50 to 90 pounds

PFD for dogs

Some people love their pets to the next level and want to enjoy everything with their pets. There are dogs are good swimmers while some lack confidence in the water. There are other dogs panic away from the seaside. PFDs are also available for the dogs. They are not USCG certified, but still, they can be a lifesaver for your beloved dog and can help your pet to enjoy time in the water. The following are some tips to get the perfect dog life jacket for your dog.

  • The jacket must be tight so that if your dog jumps in the water, it can’t step out of it.
  • Choose the perfect PFD which has easy-release buckles. 
  • Select a paddle board life jacket which is not much stylish and has less potential of catching a snag.
  • Choose the one which has a handle to lift your pet with the pouch out of water. 
How to Choose a Life Jacket for Paddle Boarding - Pakaloa
How to Choose a Life Jacket for Paddle Boarding

PFD Features


Pockets are available in most non-inflatable PFDs. You can store something you like in those pockets, considering the size and placement and the gear you can stow in them.


The PFDs come in bright colors. It makes you visible and more noticeable when you are in the water.


The tabs can help you carry more of somethings as it can be helped to attach a knife if you will or whistle or strobe or any other accessories. You can look for the location of the tabs on the front and the back of your PFDs.

Reflective Tape

This helps in adding visibility in low lighting conditions. It is very useful at night as the reflective tape glows up.


In hot summer conditions, PFDs have built-in ventilation which allows the heat of your body to escape. All you have to do is look for the built-in vents on your PFDs.

Fishing features

Some of the PFDs have hanger space to carry hooks, rod or anything which you would require for fishing. It sometimes has a drop-down pocket tab for working with flies or lures. 

PFD specifications

Flotations or buoyancy is a weight quantity in pounds required to keep the person up in the water. Different adults need different buoyancy to keep them up. The general buoyancy that adults need is 7-12 pounds to keep them up and don’t worry mostly any paddle board life jackets provide more than this amount So no need to spend much time analyzing the number. Keep in mind when comparing buoyancy rates, other factors matter as well like the person’s weight, body fat, lung size, clothing, and most importantly the water conditions i.e. whether it is calm or not.

If you own buoyancy or you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to try one before buying, here is how you compare their buoyancies:

  • Put on your PFD and enter water which is deep but not so deep i.e. deep enough to float without you touching the surface.
  • Tilt your head back and relax your body in a face-up position.
  • Relax your body in such a way that your chin is right above the water and your breathing should be normal. If your chin is not above the water you would need to require a PFD with higher buoyancy.

UCSG classifications

There are five categories of PFDs:

Type I PFDs

These are geared for rough and tough conditions like rough or remote waters where rescue might take a while. They have the most buoyancy and are bulky and turn unconscious people to face-up positions. These are most likely to be found in commercial vessels. These paddle board life jackets are available in inherently buoyant, inflatable, and hybrid designs.

Type II PFDs

These PFDs are geared for calm inland water conditions. These have a very basic design and are less bulky and are intended for where fast rescue is needed. These will turn some unconscious people wearing this turn up in a face-up position on the water. These PFDs are available in inherently buoyant, inflatable, and hybrid designs.


These types of PFDs offer freedom of movement and comfort for continuous wear. These are usually used by paddlers where there is a quick chance of rescue. This may require the person wearing it to tilt their head back to avoid being facedown and keep themselves in the face-up position when being in the water.

Type IV PFDs

These are flotation devices that need to be thrown in the water and bring the person up who needs to be rescued. Examples of these are, buoyant cushions and life rings. Type IV PFDs are not supposed to be worn they are supposed to be helped by grabbing to it or holding it.

Type V PFDs

These should be worn at all times and used for activities specified on the label. These include kayaking, waterskiing, hybrid inflatable vests, windsurfing, and deck suits. These types of PFDs are considered special use devices and are intended for specific activities.

How to put on the PFD?

It’s not a difficult process to put on your PFD for a perfect fit. First, lose all the straps of the PFD, put it on, and zip it up. Then tight all the straps especially the shoulder straps should be right firmly and tight at the end. The straps should be tight but comfortable. You can ask someone to check the movement of your PFD by pulling it up on your shoulders. Tight the straps if PFD moves up and fix it. Now you are ready to enjoy paddling with safety. 

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