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Buoyancy Aids - PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

Kayaking Buoyancy Aids
   


Buoyancy aids for kayaking are a type of Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and are essential kit for all Kayakers and Canoeists, regardless of what aspects of the sport they follow. Buoyancy aids are designed to work in assisting flotation and this is where they differ from lifejackets. Rather than keeping the wearers head out of the water, it simple assists you in floating without impeding your freedom of movement.

Any experienced paddler will tell you that buoyancy aid is ESSENTIAL for anyone going out in a kayak, be it general paddling on a calm river or the sea or bashing through some white water. The one time you neglect your buoyancy aid is the one time you'll regret it.

Buoyancy aids are all designed with mobility in mind. Because of this, a buoyancy aid which fits poorly can be a severe restriction to a paddler's range of movement, preventing proper paddling technique. This can cause a paddler to tire quickly and can become incredibly uncomfortable.



Buoyancy Aids  

An essential bit of kit for any paddler is a decent buoyancy aid.

Whether you are looking for something comfortable with plenty of pockets for long stints touring or out on the sea. Or perhaps you want a tough buoyancy aid that straps down tight so it won't rip off if you bail in rough water.

Touring Buoyancy Aids   Buoyancy Aids for Touring
White Water Buoyancy Aids   Buoyancy Aids for White Water

Kayak Buoyancy Aids

Buoyancy aids usually comprise a vest with buoyant solid foam at the front and back, there will be very little, is any, foam at the sides, as this would get in the way of arm movement. All buoyancy aids which are designed for kayaking and canoeing are made using a foam-core rather than inflatable pockets. This is due to the nature of use, it means you can not puncture the buoyancy aid.

Buoyancy aids come in three basic styles:

  • "Vest", one-piece vest which is put on by pulling it over the head.
  • "Jacket", zipped at the front, easier to put on than a vest type, but does reduce the front buoyancy as some of the foam is lost to add the zip.
  • "Side Zip" essentially a combination of vest and jacket but with the zip running up the side, where there is no foam. This makes it easier to pull the aid over the head, and yet allows the front buoyancy to be left whole.

All buoyancy aids will feature straps to let you tighten it to fit properly. Your buoyancy aid should be a snug fit, without restricting movement. This prevents it from slipping off if you end up in the water. White water designs are likely to have multiple straps on the shoulders and around waist. This prevents the buoyancy aid from being pulled off by fast water or by swimming down a drop. Many buoyancy aides also include at least one pockets to store equipment and some come with a range of safety features.

Buoyancy aids come in a wide variety of designs, each has it's benefits depending on your figure and purpose. The most important feature any buoyancy aid can have is that it fits comfortably and allows freedom of movement. After that you should narrow down on whether it is suitable for your chosen discipline. Then that it is appropriate for the grade of water you will choose to paddle. Obviously every discipline will have different needs and although there are buoyancy aids which can be used across disciplines, you should consider several factors when choosing your buoyancy aid.


Sea and Touring Buoyancy Aids

For sea kayaking or any medium to long distance touring you will want a buoyancy aid with several pockets to store any essential equipment. A number of these style of buoyancy aids also have built-in or attachable hydration packs. It is important that they are as comfortable to wear as possible, as you will be paddling long distances and any disomfort will become worse during a trip. Many include open cut sides allowing the arms totally free movement. Newer designs are following the trend of whitewater buoyancy aids, and include lower cut fronts, as this allows paddlers to lean forward more easily.

 

Whitewater Buoyancy Aids

Whitewater paddlers typically want buoyancy aids which are designed specifically for use in such rough waters. Critically they are designed to provide sufficient buoyancy to support the paddler in fast flowing rivers. In white water a paddler who bails and ends up taking a swim, will need more buoyancy to counter the force of the water. These aids are more bulky than many other designs, which is down to the extra foam. Whitewater buoyancy aids are shorter at the front to improve mobility and to allow the paddler to more easily lean forward. All designs for whitewater use will include shoulder and side straps, this allows them to be tighened securely and prevent them being swept off in rapids or down drops.

They also usually feature at least one pocket for storign the essentials, such as a knife, karabiner and a tow line. Some also include harnesses for carrying out 'live bait' rescues, but without the proper training this can be dangerous to both rescuer and rescuee.

 
Buoyancy Aids Devon
General Purpose Buoyancy Aids

General purpose buoyancy aids can be used for whatever type of boating or watersport you do. This type of buoyancy aid can be used for dinghy sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing boats, as a swimming aid, snorkeling, windsurfing, surfing etc.
At AS Watersports, Devon we have a wide range of general purpose buoyancy aids available in a range of styles and designs, so you will be sure to find something you like.

General Purpose Buoyancy aids are typically lightweight and have floats on both front and back in separate compartments, making movement whilst wearing the vest easy, as arm movement is not restricted by side floats.
 
Buoyancy Aids Devon
 
Junior Buoyancy Aids

At AS Watersports we offer a range of Junior buoyancy aids to suit children of all ages. Junior buoyancy aids typically have the same features of general purpose buoyancy aids including being lightweight, front and back float panels for unrestricted paddling. Junior buoyancy aids will also feature some form of strap for tightening the buoyancy aid, preventing it from coming off in the water in the event of the kayak capsizing.
 
Buoyancy Aids Devon
 
Buoyancy Aid Accessories

Once you have your buoyancy aid you can buy a range of accessories, these include harnesses, hydration pouches and karabiners.
Buoyancy Aids Devon
 
Buoyancy Aids  

An essential bit of kit for any paddler is a decent buoyancy aid.

Whether you are looking for something comfortable with plenty of pockets for long stints touring or out on the sea. Or perhaps you want a tough buoyancy aid that straps down tight so it won't rip off if you bail in rough water.

Kayak Buoyancy Aids   Buoyancy Aids information
Touring Buoyancy Aids   Buoyancy Aids for Touring
White Water Buoyancy Aids   Buoyancy Aids for White Water

Kayak Buoyancy Aids

 
 
 
 
     

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