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Touring Buoyancy Aids

Touring Kayak Buoyancy Aids


Touring Buoyancy aids are a specialist form of personal flotation device (PFD) and are most commonly used by kayakers and canoeists, designed as a flotation device rather than a life saving device.

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 designed with mobility in mind and should fit properly as an ill fitting buoyancy aid can greatly restrict a paddler's movement, causing them to tire quickly. In order to allow for better arm movement, buoyancy aids have front and back foam buoyancy, with little or no foam around the sides.

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
White Water Buoyancy Aids   Buoyancy Aids for White Water

Kayak Buoyancy Aids

Typically the foam that is used for a buoyancy aids is closed cell PVC (polyvinyl chloride), although many manufacturers are beginning to use more recyclable materials. Older designs of buoyancy aids used vertically aligned ribs of foam which went all around the body, however in more modern designs there is normally just front and rear slabs of foam buoyancy, with the sides left clear to allow unrestricted rotation and arm movement. Most buoyancy aids are one of three basic designs:

  • Over the head vest, where a one piece vest is simply pulled over the head.
  • Front zip jacket, where the buoyancy aid is worn like a jacket and zipped up at the front. This does however limit the front buoyancy as it requires two separate panel of foam with a space for the zip.
  • Side zip jacket, with a zip on the side rather than on the front. The added space in one side makes it easier to put on enabling the front buoyancy to be one whole piece.

All buoyancy aids will include some form of strap for tightening the buoyancy aid, in order to prevent it from coming off in the water in the event of the kayak/ boat capsizing. Many white water designs feature multiple straps on the shoulders and waist to ensure the buoyancy aid can not be swept off in fast water. They may also include pockets for storing equipment and a range of safety and rescue features.

There is a large variety of designs to fit every figure and purpose. It is important to have a buoyancy aid that fits comfortably to allow freedom of movement. It is also important that it is suitable for the chosen type of kayaking and the grade of water being paddled.

Sea and Touring Buoyancy Aids

Sea and long distance touring buoyancy aids often feature several large pockets to store essential equipment and perhaps hydration packs. They must be comfortable to wear whilst paddling for long distances and also have low cut sides to allow free movement of the arms.

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
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