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5 Types of Personal Flotation Devices To Consider

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No matter what you plan on doing in the water, it calls for a life jacket. Whether you’re paddleboarding, jet skiing, boating, kayaking, or more, you must have one personal flotation device (PFD) per person on board a vessel.

But how do you know which life jacket is the most appropriate for you? There are five types of personal flotation devices you need to consider. Use this guide to help you find the right one for you.

Type I: Longer Rescue Time

Type I life jackets are jackets that you’d wear in remote or rough waters. You would wear this when you know a rescue team will take a long time to get to you. This specific PFD type will also aid in turning almost anyone over when unconscious and face-down in the water.

Type II: Quick Rescue Time

Type II PFDs are the opposite of type I life jackets. You would wear this PFD in calmer waters when you know a rescue team will help you in a timely manner. These life jackets keep you afloat but cannot turn an unconscious person over. While you would wear a type I PFD on a cruise, you would use a type II vest for a day of fishing near shore.

Type III: Flotation Aids

Type III PFDs are precisely what they say they are; they will aid in flotation but nothing else. You would see someone surfing or skiing wear this type of life jacket. Never wear this PFD in rough waters. You should only wear one in calm waters.

Type IV: Throwable PFDs

Type IV PFDs are the classic throwable life dingy. Please note that you don’t wear these flotation devices; they are only for emergency use. For example, if you fall off your fishing boat, someone can throw you this PFD to help you stay afloat and pull you back toward the vessel.

Type V: Special Use for Sports

The last type of personal flotation device to consider is for special use. Type V life jackets are for specific sports. These devices are typically much smaller in size, so it doesn’t get in the way of the athlete. Some types of V PFDs are just belts that only activate when you pull a cord. Think windsurfing or kiteboarding for this type of life jacket.

Remember, PFDs are necessary to have when you’re on a vessel in the water. Our last takeaway you cannot forget is to ensure your PFD is US Coast Guard-approved to meet the standard buoyancy requirements. When you buy a paddleboard from Green Water Sports, you should purchase a life jacket too!

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.