If you are paddle boarding in an area of the ocean or lake that is outside the designated area for swimming or surfing, you need to have the best life jacket for paddle boarding.
If you have a minor on your paddle board or on their paddle board, they must wear a life jacket all the time they are on water.
So, which life jacket is appropriate for you when you are enjoying stand up paddle boarding?
There are different types of life jackets for paddle boarding. They offer different things and most are approved by the United States Coast Guard.
To help you cut through the chase, here is everything you should know about the best paddle boarding life jackets.
What kind of life jacket is best for paddle boarding?
Off the cuff, get a Type III Life jacket for stand up paddle boarding. It has the best characteristics, one of them being that if you fall into the water, you can float until rescue comes.
Keep reading to see the top life jackets that you can buy to keep you safe and confident on the paddle board.
1. Stohlquist Edge Life Jacket
There are many good things to say about this life jacket. It has an incredibly convenient pocket on the front side.
Your personal items like meds and snacks are within easy reach all the time. There is also another zipped side pocket where you can keep more items.
This is a Type III life jacket that is USCG-approved. Thus, if you are a real water sports enthusiast, this jacket will keep you safe when you are doing white water rafting, paddle boarding on the river or in the ocean.
You also get nice, wide adjustable straps. Even if you wear it on your bare back, the straps are not going to cut into your shoulders. This flotation device is adjustable for size both at the shoulders and the waist.
This is a very comfortable jacket. It is padded, and is designed in an ergonomic style, which conforms to the shape of your torso. You can wear it for a long time without feeling any discomfort.
The only disadvantage with this life jacket for water sports is that it feels too small. When ordering, get a size up.
2. Onyx A M-24 Automatic and Manual Inflatable PFD Life Jacket
We have mentioned that there are different types of life jackets. This one from Onyx is a Type V jacket. It is approved by the U.S.C.G so you can order it with confidence.
If you fall into the water while wearing this life jacket, it is going to inflate automatically. Also, it has a handle that you can pull to inflate it.
And that is not all! You can also inflate it with your mouth because it comes with a valve designed for just that.
This is a low profile jacket, which means that it does not have much thickness. In fact, you can even forget you are wearing one.
It consists mostly of the waist strap, two straps that run down the torso, the front side, and a small padded patch at the shoulders.
While it lacks the bells and whistles that full-blown flotation devices come with, it is still very efficient, affordable and simplistic in design.
The main disadvantage is that it is designed to keep you safe only in calmer waters. Do not use it in wild waters, or for adventures such as swimming in the ocean.
3. Astral GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD
This one is a very expensive life jacket, but you will get the value of your money back through the features it comes with.
First, it is approved by the US Coast Guard as a Type V life jacket. The outer material is made of PVC and for flotation, the company has used foam inserts.
Secondly, the jacket comes in a two-panel design, which gives a better fit as compared to one-panel designs. It prevents the flotation device from riding up your torso when you are in the water.
Thirdly, you get so many storage options on this jacket. There is the large front pocket that has a zippered closure. This pocket also has a few compartments for rope storage and for your personal items.
There are also various attachments for knives, strobe, whistle, GPS device and more. On the right and left sides, there are pockets offering extra storage space.
Fourthly, this is a high quality flotation device and despite the closed design, your arms will stay very free for easier swimming or using your SUP paddle. It is not restrictive in any way.
The main disadvantage with this life jacket is the cost. It is also best for white water paddle boarding. If your adventures are restricted to the calm waters, there is no need to buy this one.
Best women’s life jacket for paddle boarding
There is no need to look for a gender specific life jacket for stand up paddle boarding. What you need most is to know your size.
Women usually have smaller frames, shorter torso and narrower shoulders. Therefore, when you are ordering one, check the sizing chart provided by the company properly.
From the list of the three flotation devices that we have analyzed here, women paddle boarding beginners would be more suited to the Astral GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD.
It is feature-rich and it does not cost too much money. Besides, most men complain that the sizes run small, so a woman might find her regular size very fitting.
What is the best type of life jacket for paddle boarding
Choosing the best type of life jacket for paddle boarding need not be too hard. However, first, you need to understand the different types of life jackets.
Here are a few criteria to bear in mind when you want to buy a good life jacket for SUP adventure:
It is Coast Guard-approved
Life jackets are for your safety in the water, to keep you afloat and alive when you fall in the water and you are too tired to swim.
You can also wear these devices if you are sailing on a boat. It will keep you alive if the boat capsizes, until rescue comes.
Read the product description to know whether the life jacket you want to buy is U.S.C.G approved.
Type I or II life jacket
Type I and II life jacket are designed to be able to turn you face up in the water. That’s why they are recommended for off-shore water sports and sailing.
If you hit your head on the paddle board while falling and you lose consciousness, this life jacket is going to turn you over.
Type II life jackets are designed to be used closer to the shore. Please note that the Types I and II life jackets have a higher buoyancy rating as compared to the Types III, IV and V flotation devices.
Since it is hard to go off-shore when you are paddle boarding, you can get the Type III life jacket.
For wild water rafting, kayaking, canoeing and for offshore sailing, the Type I life jacket would be the best for you.
Should have storage pockets and adjustable straps
When you are in the water, you want to bring a few personal items with you. These include snacks, a cellphone in a waterproof bag and others.
Also, it is a requirement that you have a whistle, and a strobe on your person if you are going to paddle board out of the designated zone for swimming or surfing.
A frontal storage pocket would be nice, as would a few other side pockets with zips for security of your items.
To fit you properly, a flotation device should come with adjustable straps across the chest, on the shoulders and on the waist.
Do I need a PFD when paddle boarding?
According to the Coast Guard, a paddleboard is considered a water vessel. You are required to have a life jacket on the paddle board, not necessarily on your person.
However, it is best to wear the PFD on your person once you get out of the zone designated for swimming or surfing.
If you have a child on your paddle board, they should wear their PFD on their person all the time, even when they are not going to be close to the shore.
Water sports are a lot of fun. However, the sea is unpredictable and it can turn fast, without notice. If this happens, you had better have your PFD on you.
Can you paddle board with a life jacket?
That is the whole point about this post. You should follow the Coast Guard Rules for wearing a life jacket for SUP.
If you have a minor on board or on their own SUP board, ensure they are wearing their life jackets for their safety.
They need to wear them whether they are paddle boarding in the surfing, swimming or bathing designated areas, or not.
For your, you only need to have the life jacket on the paddle board when you are in the surfing and swimming areas. When you are out of this zone, you need to wear it.
For visibility, the life jackets come with reflective material or strips. This makes it easy for other people in the water to see you.
What’s the difference between Type 2 and Type 3 life vest?
A Type II life vest for paddle boarding or kayaking is going to turn you upwards when you are incapacitated in the water. It can turn you upwards horizontally or vertically.
That way, you will not inhale water into your lungs, which can cause primary or secondary drowning.
A Type III is slightly different from the Type II one, although both of them have a buoyancy rate of 15.5 pounds or more.
However, the Type III life vest is not going to turn you upwards. Therefore, if you are unconscious while in the water, the life vest might not prevent you from inhaling water into your lungs.
To get the best life jacket for paddle boarding, look for one that is approved by the US Coast Guard for various water activities.
The three we have reviewed here for you should give you a good idea of what you need. Don’t just get a good PFD (personal flotation device). Also get a good inflatable or solid paddle board.
With good paddle boarding gear, a good life jacket for SUP, you will feel more confident in the water. Even if you are a beginner paddle boarder, you will learn fast.