If a life jacket fits properly

It will help keep your head above the water. Too big, and the life jacket will ride up around your face. Too small, it will not be able to keep your body afloat. Life jackets designed for adults will not work for children!

Try It On For Size
  • #1 Check the manufacturer’s label to ensure that the life jacket is a proper fit for your size and weight.
  • #2 Make sure the jacket is properly fastened.
  • #3 Hold your arms straight up over your head.
  • #4 Ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings and gently pull up.
  • #5 Make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the jacket does not ride up over your chin or face.
For the best fit, try the life jacket in shallow water under safe and supervised conditions.

What to Look for in a Kayaking Lifejacket

by Renee Mac

The most important thing you can look for in a lifejacket is a good comfortable fit. From my experience PFDs (lifejackets) can fit each person very differently. If the fit is not right then you will find yourself getting very uncomfortable while kayaking and not wanting to wear it.

I used to always wear a regular unisex lifejacket while kayakiung. It was a cheap model that I had forever and it was always bugging me. I would get extremely hot in it and it would pinch and rub my skin.

Get a PFD That is Designed for You

Eventually I decided to look for a PFD that actually fit my body and that I didn't mind wearing. I didn't have much choice in the town where I live so I began my search online. I was nervous because obviously when buying online I would not have the opportunity to try it on first.

However I read a lot of reviews and did a fair amount of research and eventually settled on one that was designed to fit a woman's body. Once I received it and wore it a few times, I could not believe the difference in how it felt as compared to the old one I used to wear.

Firs of all it actually fit me and didn't bulk out in all the wrong places. Second it had a mesh lower back and super large arm holes which kept me cool and comfortable in hot weather. Third it didn't ride up while I was paddling. What a difference!

There are lifejackets that are made specifically for men and others that are specifically for woman. A unisex PFD is fine as an extra but I would highly recommend investing in one that is designed specifically for your body as I think you will be much happier with it in the long run.

I didn't mind spending a little extra on mine as I figure it is really one time purchase. If you buy a good one, it will be extremely well made and likely last you for many, many years.

What to Look For

For a comfortable fit watch for these key things:

  • A PFD that states it conforms to your body

  • Mesh back or siding helps to breathe

  • Large armholes does not restrict movement while paddling

  • Big pockets a very handy feature

  • Various adjustable straps helps with proper fit

Then read the reviews and see what others have to say about the lifejackets you are considering.

To learn much more about quality kayaking gear visit where you'll find comprehensive reviews on kayaks and gear including my review of the Stohlquist Cruiser PFD.

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