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PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) are an important part of kayaking that some do not put much thought into. We want to make it easy for you to find the right one that works for you and that is going to be comfortable. Everyone should wear a PFD when yaking.
When looking for a PFD it is important to choose the right one. The PFD you choose may change depending on the type of yaking you'll be doing.
Below you will find the five types of PFD's and what they are intended for. I don't imagine many of you will need a class IV for yaking but knowledge is power and if you know what it is and what it's for you are better prepared to choose the right one.
Class I PFD
Offshore Life Jackets
These vests are designed for rough or remote waters where rescue may take some time. They provide the most buoyancy, are excellent for flotation and will turn most unconscious persons face up in the water.
Class II PFD
These are mostly appropriate for use in calm waters when quick rescue is likely. While very buoyant, these vests may not turn some unconscious wears face up in the water.
Class III PFD
These life jackets (vests) are great for calm waters where a rescue if needed would be quick. These are not recommenced for rough waters since they will not turn most unconscious people face up. These are the most common for wakeboarder, skiers, and surfers.
Class IV PFD
According to Idaho Boating Laws, any vessels 16 feet in length or longer (except canoes and kayaks of any length) must have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV PFD on board and readily accessible. Since a Type IV is not designed to be worn, it is neither for rough waters or for anyone who is unable to hold on to it.
Class V PFD
These are often developed and customized specifically for specific sports such as kayaking, wakeboarding, or windsurfing.
To be acceptable, Type V PFDs must be used in accordance with their label.
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