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Best Life Vest For Paddle Boarding

Stohlquist Betsea Womens Kayak Life Jacket

What PFD is Best for Paddle Boarding?

While many unisex PFDs work well for women, theres something to be said for vests specially designed for female bodies. Thats what the Stolquist Betsea Womens Kayak Life Jacket promises, providing supportive inner cups and an ergonomic WRAPTURE torso configured just for female paddlers. The cross-chest cinch harness only reinforces the secure fit by maintaining the flotation elements lower on the vest and reducing the likelihood of ride-up.

Onyx Movevent Dynamic Sup Life Vest

This PFD from ONYX is excellent for water sports and as a SUP life jacket. It is designed specifically for comfort and usability. There is also a fantastic size range so you can find a great match for your body type. We love that Onyx chose to build this PFD with reflective material – an added safety bonus.

Where to buy:

What we don’t love:

  • The zipper pocket is small: too small for a phone.

The foam panels are strategically placed around the torso and the sides which give comfort. They have utilized mesh panels to help with airflow while wearing and to stop the PFD from rising to your chin in the water. The Onyx Movement Dynamic PFD is a great choice for a paddle boarding – it not only looks good, is lightweight, it will save you in an emergency.

So What Kind Of Pfd Should I Be Looking For

As mentioned, full-body PFDs are good for kids and pets, but for adults, they can be at risk of interfering with a self-rescue and restrict your upper body movement impacting your technique and probably making you sweat if its a warm day or youre on a fitness paddle. Thats why I choose to use a PFD belt such as the Red Paddle Co Airbelt PFD. They work in a similar way to the lifejackets you find on aeroplanes. They fasten around your waist meaning your upper body is unrestricted, and the PFD is deflated and folded up within the belt while youre paddling. To deploy should you require it, simply pull the inflatable bladder out of the pocket, place over your head and inflate by pulling the inflation cord, with no adjustments required.

There have been many situations where I have felt greater confidence on the water thanks to the PFD belt around my waist. I hope I will never need it, but knowing its there and knowing Im prepared for anything makes me a confident and stronger paddler.

Vikki is the founder of She SUPs, a Global Womens SUP Community. She is also a Red Paddle Co AU Brand Ambassador and an ASI Level 2 SUP Instructor. For more information, please visit: or follow @shesups_ on Instagram and Facebook.

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Best Overall Life Jacket

Intended Use:Entry Style:REASONS TO BUY

The Astral E-Ronny is a stand-out life jacket due to its comfortable slim line fit, simple closure system, and dialed features such as pockets and attachment points. The zipper-only front closure provides an exceedingly comfortable fit. The lack of a waist clip avoids that uncomfortably tight squeezing of the stomach that so many other vests create after hours of sitting in a boat. In addition, the side adjustments create an evenly distributed overall feel that we love. Many testers appreciated the thinner top front section, which gives it a natural contour. Narrow shoulder sections and large armholes help keep your arms free enough for longer paddling journeys or activities such as fly fishing. The thinly padded back works well with boat seatbacks, and vented sections in numerous places provide breathability.

Read review:Astral E-Ronny

Life Jackets Maintenance Tips

Best Paddle Board Life Vest [2020] Top Life Jackets for SUP [Reviews]

A failed life jacket can be life-threatening. It is vital to have regular maintenance on your life jacket to ensure all parts of the jacket are in excellent condition.

Therefore, prevent any unwanted accidents caused by malfunctioning life vests.

Here are some tips for maintaining your SUP life jacket:

  • Create a maintenance written record whenever you check and service your life jacket.
  • Always check your life jacket before boating to ensure it is in good condition.
  • Check for any visible sign of wear and tear.
  • Ensure all the buckles and straps are in good condition.
  • Ensure that the buoyancy materials are not lumpy, leak, mildew, or hardened.
  • If there is any sign of deterioration, discard and replace it with a new life jacket.
  • Ensure all the labels are intact and do not remove them from the life jacket, especially USCG approved labels.
  • Avoid using a life jacket as a kneeling pad or boat fender since it will damage the life jacket buoyancy foam.
  • Always rinse your life jacket with fresh water to remove the saltwater after your paddling activity.
  • Avoid using harsh detergent when washing as it can also damage the life jacket.
  • Always store your PFD in good ventilation storage away from dampness and direct sunlight.
  • Ensure the life jacket is completely dry before keeping them in storage to avoid the development of mould and foul smell.
  • Avoid using direct heat appliances such as a hairdryer to dry your life jacket since it will damage the PFD.

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The 5 Types Of Personal Flotation Devices And Life Jackets

Type I PFD

Type I is a basic type of PFD. They are commonly used on commercial vessels and watercraft over 12 feet in length. Sometimes called offshore life jackets, Type I PFDs are able to be used in all water conditions including rough and secluded water areas where it may take time before rescuers can arrive in the event of an accident.

These vests are a bit bulky, but the added foam and fabric help keep in body heat. Another benefit of Type I vests is that they help keep your head high above the water to regain control and view your surroundings.


Type II PFDs are commonly used on inshore waters or in calmer water areas. They are not the best in rougher waters and should only be used by good swimmers.

These vests may require you to tread water in order to keep your head above water for visibility. This type of life vest is used by wakeboarders, kayakers, boaters, and even paddle boarders where the chance of immediate rescue happens quickly.


Type III PFDs provide far less flotation capability than a Type I PFD, so Type IIIs should only be used by very good swimmers. This type provides a more comfortable fit than Type I or Type II PFDs.

Type IIIs are commonly worn like a cold season belt, jacket, or a fish-hunting vest. These personal flotation devices are designed to allow the wearer to float vertically, while the face is above water.


Type V PFD

Oneill Superlite Life Vest

Another ONeill life vest I recommend is the Superlite. This is USCG-approved as a Type III personal flotation device. Like the first one, this is ideal for recreational watersports

This is made with anatomically cut foam flotation paired with a polyester outer shell. This is durable, buoyant, but very comfy to wear. Its also lightweight and doesnt have the bulk of other USCG-approved vests.

Moreover, this has 1.5 webbing belts all over the torso area. It uses quick-release buckles so you can easily adjust the fit or remove the vest if need be.

Unlike the ONeill Reactor Vest, the Superlite has a tighter fit. If you prefer a more relaxed fit, consider ordering one size up.

At the bottom of the vest, theres a key loop that you can use to attach a leash. Overall, this is very buoyant and my 200-lbs. friend is having a great time floating and paddling with this vest.

In addition, the ONeill Superlite vest dries quickly. The outer shell is also water-resistant to keep your chest dry in case water splashes from the paddle.


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Best Youth Life Jacket: Stohlquist Escape Youth Fit Pfd

It’s tough choosing the right PFD for your kids, and they grow so fast! We recommend choosing an affordable life jacket. The Stolhquist Escape Youth Life Jacket is comfortable, tough, and will fit kids 50 lb to 125 lbs with it’s two sizes.

Where to buy:

What we don’t love:

  • The design feels a little outdated

In our testing, this PFD worked out very well when we had our kids on our SUPs. This Coast Guard approved Type III life vest is incredibly soft and very comfortable. There’s nothing worst when your kid has an uncomfortable life jacket he wants to take off. Fret no more, the Stohlquist Escape Youth Fit PFD is a great choice for youth paddle boarders.

Jobe 50 Newton Bodywarmer

Best SUP Life Vest In 2020 For Your Safety!

The Jobe 50 Newton Bodywarmer is a good choice if you are looking for something stylish and warm that doesnt resemble a typical life vest.

  • Some products offer more buoyancy
  • Way to warm for the hottest UK summer days

The Jobe 50 Newton Bodywarmer is one of the best choices if you are looking for something a bit cooler looking. It resembles a body warmer but works as a reasonably powerful 50 Newton flotation device.

The Jobe doesnt even look like a flotation device, which is great if you dont like the way life vests look. It has some casual style to it and might not immediately be recognised as a flotation product at all.

The Jobe is easy to get into and out of. There is a front zipper, and it is just like getting to and out of any other zippered vest. It is made out of strong nylon, and the zippers are well made.

There is even a water drainage system, plus internal pockets and a large range of sizes. Make sure you get the right size because while it probably will fit well, it doesnt use straps like a typical life vest.

This is perfect for winter paddle boarding and is a great additional warm layer.

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Stearns 16 Gram Manual Belt Pack

First, I like the fact that you get color options with the Stearns 16 Gram belt pack. It comes in gold, blue, and red. Not only do the colors look great, but they are also bright and improve visibility which is good for safety.

This personal flotation device will fit adults with a chest size from 30 to 52 inches and over 80 pounds.

It has a nicecompact design and is very easy to use. Simply buckle the belt pack around your waist and go on your paddle boarding adventures. In case of emergency, pull the cord and it will inflate automatically.

The Stearns 16 Gram is United States Coast Guard-approved.

  • Clear arming status window: This makes it easy to check that your belt packed is ready to inflate.
  • Pull cord is centrally located: Its easy to deploy with either hand.
  • Easy to attach accessories: The spring clip makes it easy to attach a whistle or other small accessories.
  • Universal sizing: You dont have to worry about ordering the wrong size vest.
  • Choice of colors: Coordinate your PFD with your board.
  • Bulkier than the M16: While its still much less obtrusive than a vest-style PFD, the Stearns belt is larger than the Onyx M16.
  • Small pocket: Its nice to have a pocket but its a bit too small to be useful.

Astral Layla Womens Pfd Best Life Vest For Women

The Astral Layla is hands down one of the best PFDs for women out there.

Other than its stylish color options, it is tailored to perfectly fit the female figure.

It has hinged princess seams and sculpted bust cups. This allows for maximum chest room and easy adjustment for that perfect fit.

The paddle board PFD has a large front pocket and is also compatible with a quick-release belt. It features a side zip to make it super easy to put on and take off.

Every single detail on the Astral Layla is designed to make it the most comfortable PFD for women. My wife loves it!

  • Tailored fit: The vest is designed to wrap around breasts, rather than squeezing them out, and the three adjustable side straps give a precise fit.
  • Flexible, soft foam: The soft Kapok foam molds to your body giving a close, comfortable fit.
  • Can be repaired: If you puncture the foam in most PFDs, you have to replace it. The Kapok foam in the Layla can be patchedor you can send it off to Astral wholl repair it for you.
  • Handy pockets: The large front pocket contains two pockets plus a bungee cord to keep things organized.
  • Looks great: The flattering fit and color choices make this one stylish PFD.
  • Expensive: The Astral is one of the most expensive PFDs on the market, but many women say its worth every cent!
  • Can get hot: The full coverage PFD is less breathable than other models and can get hot in warm weather.

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Onyx A/m 24 Automatic Life Vest

And last but not least, the Onyx A/M 24 Automatic Vest. This is a harness style Type V life jacket. The belt buckle style fastening and stretchy back make this an excellent choice for most body types. It is highly loved by paddle boarders and water sport enthusiasts.

Where to buy:

  • Made from durable fabric material

What we don’t love:

  • Don’t leave it outside – can self-inflate when not stored properly.

The Onyx A/M 24 Automatic Life Vest is an automatic inflatable PFD that also has a manual option in case the CO2 cartridges run low . The design is predominantly about versatility and comfort with stand up paddle boarding in mind.

Should You Wear A Life Jacket While Paddle Boarding

Best Life Vest for Paddle Boarding

Paddle Boarders need to wear a PFD because it drastically reduces your risk of drowning. In Fact, we compiled some data in the past 4 years from the US Coast Guard on Recreational Boating Statistics and found that 35 out of 39 deaths could have been prevented if the user wore a PFD.

39 94%

While the numbers are pretty low, your survival rate will most likely increase by 94% should you wear a PFD while paddle boarding.

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Stand Up Paddle Pfd Maintenance

You have to take care of your floatation devices the same way you care for your stand up paddle boards. Traditional life jackets are easier to maintain compared to inflatable ones.

After every paddling session, rinse your PFD with fresh water then hang it out to dry.

Check for any tears so the next time you go to the water you dont bring a faulty life jacket.

If you inflated your inflatable PFD, you have to replace the CO2 cylinder. Manufacturers will usually offer instructions on how to do this.

Why You Should Wear A Life Vest While Paddle Boarding

For those who are paddle boarding for long, it might feel like a hassle to wear a life vest. Besides, theres no law or rule that obligates paddlers to wear one. However, the following are the reasons why you should consider wearing a floatation device.

  • It will save your life. The main purpose of life vests is to keep you afloat on the water. In case you fall from your board, you will float to the surface. Take note that you can hit your head on the board, which will disorient you. In this case, a life vest will save you from drowning.
  • It gives you confidence. For non-swimmers or first-time paddle board users, a life jacket gives assurance that they are safe no matter what. This is very true, especially if youre letting your child use a SUP.
  • Your pals arent good swimmers. If no one in your group can swim well in deep waters, I suggest that you wear a life jacket when paddle boarding. This will potentially save you and someone elses life.
  • The water conditions are rough. If youre paddling in moderate to strong currents, you should consider wearing a life jacket. Youll never know when a strong wave will come crashing at you.

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Onyx Movevent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

This Coast Guard-certified Type III PFD by Onyx Outdoor offers a highly breathable, comfy-yet-snug fit thanks to ample mesh, a lightweight, body-conforming foam core, and adjustable shoulder straps buffered with neoprene comfort pads. Youve got zippered pockets with mesh drainage for stowing items, plus a lash tab for attaching accessories the life vest comes with an attached safety whistle. The SOLAS-grade reflectivity heightens your visibility out there on the water, to boot.

What Is A Paddle Boarding Vest

Top 5: Best Life Jacket For Paddle Boarding [Lightweight, Inflatable, PFD]

A PFD is the most critical safety measure any person has when going out on the water. Accidents happen, and the last thing you want to do is drown out at sea. There are various types of PFDs for particular use situations as well as PFD options such as vest, jacket, and belt.

When choosing a PFD, make sure it is

  • Suitable for the location and activity
  • Right size and can support you in the water by providing enough buoyancy
  • It is approved by the United States Coast Guard
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    So What Is The Best Life Jackets For Paddle Boarders

    Hands down the best life jacket is the one you will use. It does not matter what sup life jacket you have if the sup pfd is going to sit back in the car or in the garage.

    For me the best life jacket is a pfd belt style. These inflatable pfds give me maximum mobility, are some of the most comfortable life jackets for recreational paddling adventures and have easy adjustment points for a secure fit and the adjustable waist strap means I do not have to own as many bulky space taking life jackets in various chest size. These life jackets are not suitable for all water sports however and standard life jacket must be used for white water and river running.

    For river running and whitewater the best life jackets are once again the type of life jacket you will use. Type III Life jacket or specialized type V life jacket is what whitewater requires and an inflatable pfd should never be used on white water. You will want a high quality life jacket with multiple adjustment points for a secure fit and proper fitting shoulder straps when looking for a white water sup pfd, it also should have a quick release. And as always a good stand up paddle pfd is your friend, however when it comes to whitewater it is time to break up with your leash. Life jackets are good, leashes are bad.

    The fine for not wearing a life jacket in Utah can be a class b misdemeanor and possibly 6 months jail time and or a fine of up to $1000 all for not having a life jacket or not wearing approved life jackets.

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