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Best Paddle Board Life Jackets – Top 11 Best PFDs for SUP and Other Paddlesports (2024)

best paddle board life jackets life vests pfd for sup board paddling

Stand up paddle boarding is generally considered safe. But it is a water sport and things can still go wrong. When paddling, you should always wear a PFD.

PFDs (personal flotation devices) come in many shapes and sizes. It’s easy to get confused by different styles and rating systems. While safety is the most important thing, you also want to be able to paddle in comfort.

To cut through the confusion, I’ve reviewed 11 paddle board life jackets, including the best options for adults, kids, and dogs. This guide will help you decide which SUP PFD is the best and safest option for you.

The Onyx M-16 is my top pick for the best PFD for stand up paddle boarding in 2024. Read on to find out why.

RELATED: Discover the best accessories for paddle boarding of 2024 

Stand Up Paddle PFDs Comparison Table

Best Overall

Onyx M-16 Belt PFD

Onyx M-16 Belt PFD

Slim, featherweight inflatable belt for expert swimmers

The Onyx M-16 is the ultimate lightweight PFD for competent swimmers who want an unobtrusive safety device. It will never get in the way of your paddling and yoga and won’t give you tan lines!

Slower to inflate than some other PFDs.



Stearns Manual Belt Pack

Stearns Manual Belt Pack

A compact PFD belt that’s easy to use

This compact belt pack is easy to inflate with either hand and comes in a choice of colors. The clear window makes it easy to check that it’s armed and ready to inflate.

Bulkier and more expensive than the Onyx M-16


Best Budget

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest

Affordable life vest with good freedom of movement

The large arm cutouts on the MoveVent make it easy to paddle. It’s comfortable, even in hot weather, and great value for money.

The foam is bulky and the sizing runs large.



NRS Ninja Vest

NRS Ninja Vest

Exceptional range of movement for a foam life vest

The Ninja vest concentrates the flotation foam in the center of the front and back. This gives you maximum freedom of movement for paddling.

Heavy and the straps can cut into your neck.


Best For Women

Astral Layla Women’s PFD Vest

Astral Layla Women’s PFD Vest

Flexible, tailored fit that’s designed for women

Cut specifically for women, the design, soft foam, and three side straps mean the Layla can be adjusted to fit women of all shapes and sizes.

Top-notch comfort comes at a price—the Layla is expensive!



Astral Linda Women’s PFD Vest

Astral Linda Women’s PFD Vest

Lightweight, breathable vest for hot weather

The Linda’s thin foam back makes it the most comfortable PFD for use in kayak seats—great if you’re fishing. It’s also a great choice for hot weather.

The lash tab is almost inaccessible and therefore useless



NRS Women’s Siren Vest

NRS Women’s Siren Vest

Comfortable vest with a wrap-around fit

The wrap-around fit and large armholes give plenty of room for your shoulders to move. It’s also very durable and backed by a lifetime warranty.

It’s heavy and best suited to small-busted women


Best For Teens

Stohlquist Youth Fit Vest

Stohlquist Youth Fit Vest

Budget vest for teens and small adults

The Stohlquist Youth Fit comes in two sizes to fit people up to 125 pounds and is cut to give freedom of movement for paddling or swimming.

It can ride up when you jump into the water.


Best For Kids

Stohlquist Child PFD Vest

Stohlquist Child PFD Vest

Slim-fitting PFD with double-collar support

The double collar supports your child’s head and neck and the slim fit and bright colors make it attractive to kids.

It’s not guaranteed to turn your child face-up.


Best For Dogs

NRS Canine PFD Vest

NRS Canine PFD Vest

Rugged, secure design that fits most dogs

Fits your pooch comfortably and securely. Very durable with a strong grab handle and a handy zip pocket for treats and toys.

The limited range of sizes may not fit every dog.



Stohlquist Dog PFD Vest

Stohlquist Dog PFD Vest

Slim jacket in a wide range of sizes

The Stohlquist vest comes in 7 sizes, making it a great choice for small dogs who may not fit in other brands.

Color options aren’t great for visibility


Best SUP Belt PFDs

1. Onyx M-16 Belt Pack Stand Up Paddle PFD – Best Overall Paddle Board Life Jacket

Onyx M 16 best sup pfd - best paddle board life jacket - belt pfd life vest

Some paddle boarders complain that personal floatation devices are uncomfortable and restrict movement. 

You won’t have that problem with the Onyx M-16. That’s one of the reasons why I love it. 

The belt pack PFD is worn around the waist, as you can guess from the name. It doesn’t interfere with your paddling movement at all. After a while, you won’t even think about it. You can fish, do yoga and have fun without it getting in your way.

In case of an emergency, simply pull the cord to inflate the life jacket.

There’s a D-ring attachment for you to attach any small accessories that you want to keep close. 

The Onyx M-16 has a 200D nylon oxford protective cover and comes in three colors.

This USCG-approved Type V inflatable PFD is a universal adult size. It will fit chest sizes 30 to 52 inches and a waist size of up to 52 inches. 

What I Like
  • Small and lightweight: It’s easy to forget you’re wearing it.
  • Doesn’t restrict your movement: The belt design doesn’t restrict your movement at all, making it a great option for yoga or other SUP acrobatics.
  • One size fits all: the belt is easily adjusted to fit a range of body shapes.
  • Option to increase buoyancy: The CO2 cartridge provides 17 pounds of buoyancy, but you can top this up to 26.5 pounds using the inflation tube.
  • Good value for money: It’s cheaper than many other PFDs.
What I Don’t Like
  • Slow to inflate compared to other models: The Onyx M-16 is best used by competent swimmers on calm waters.
  • Only suitable for expert swimmers: The belt pack requires more effort to deploy and use than other PFDs.

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2. Stearns 16 Gram Manual Belt Pack PFD For Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stearns Inflatable Belt Pack Lifejacket paddle boarding personal flotation device

First, I like the fact that you get color options with the Stearns 16 Gram belt pack. It comes in gold, blue, and red. Not only do the colors look great, but they are also bright and improve visibility which is good for safety. 

This personal flotation device will fit adults with a chest size from 30 to 52 inches and over 80 pounds. 

It has a nice compact design and is very easy to use. Simply buckle the belt pack around your waist and go on your paddle boarding adventures. In case of emergency, pull the cord and it will inflate automatically. 

The Stearns 16 Gram is United States Coast Guard-approved.

What I Like
  • Clear arming status window: This makes it easy to check that your belt packed is ready to inflate.
  • Pull cord is centrally located: It’s easy to deploy with either hand.
  • Easy to attach accessories: The spring clip makes it easy to attach a whistle or other small accessories.
  • Universal sizing: You don’t have to worry about ordering the wrong size vest.
  • Choice of colors: Coordinate your PFD with your board.
What I Don’t Like
  • Bulkier than the M16: While it’s still much less obtrusive than a vest-style PFD, the Stearns belt is larger than the Onyx M16.
  • Small pocket: It’s nice to have a pocket but it’s a bit too small to be useful.

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Best Paddle Board Life Vests (Type II & III)

3. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic SUP Life Vest – Best Budget SUP PFD

onyx movevent dynamic sup life vest best paddle board life vest life vests for paddling paddleboarders kayaking

A good life vest doesn’t have to be expensive and the MoveVent Dynamic is proof of that.

The Dynamic’s lightweight flotation foam is soft and flexible. It conforms to your body for a perfect fit. 

You can still comfortably use the MoveVent Dynamic when you choose to convert your SUP into a kayak. The mesh panel at the back is designed to accommodate kayak seats.

There are few things more annoying than a life vest that just won’t fit properly. But you don’t have to worry about that with the Dynamic floatation device. It is available in three sizes and features six adjustment straps

Stand up paddle boards aren’t that big and paddlers can always appreciate a little extra storage. You’ll be happy to know that this SUP PFD comes with a large expandable zippered pocket. It also has a lash tab for small accessories. 

The MoveVent Dynamic is a USCG-approved lifejacket.

What I Like
  • High-back design: The foam back is high enough to fit over a kayak seat, making it more comfortable if your SUP has a seat.
  • Very affordable: The MoveVent Dynamic vest is great value for money. Unlike many budget PFDs, it’s comfortable and doesn’t restrict your paddling.
  • Whistle included: The attached whistle means you don’t have to worry about adding this important safety item to your kit.
  • Lightweight: You might expect a budget PFD to be heavy, but that’s not the case with the MoveVent.
  • Expandable pocket: The zippered pocket is a handy space to store keys or a small snack.
What I Don’t Like
  • Bulkier than other jackets: While the MoveVent does give your arms plenty of freedom to move, the foam used is bulkier than more expensive vests.
  • Sizing runs big: If you’re small, you may find that even the XS/S size is too big for you.
  • Cheaper fabric can rub: As you might expect for a budget PFD, the fabric is coarser than more expensive models. I’d recommend wearing a layer underneath to prevent chafing.

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4. NRS Ninja Personal Flotation Device 

nrs ninja lifejacket life vest pfd paddleboarding paddlesport

I love the design of the NRS Ninja paddle board PFD. Its flotation foam is packed into only two small panels. This gives you more freedom than you would typically have with a traditional life jacket.

The NRS Ninja has AirMesh fabric on the inner panels and shoulder straps for maximum airflow. 

You can get this stand up paddle PFD in four colors: teal, red, lime, and black. 

It comes in three sizes and has six adjustment points to ensure that it fits snugly regardless of your body type. 

The Ninja has a front clamshell pocket with internal organization as well as a lash tab. It is a Type III life jacket with U.S Coast Guard certification. 

It is a great option if you want complete freedom of movement when paddling, and you don’t mind a little sun on your shoulders.

What I Like
  • Exceptional freedom of movement: The foam on the Ninja is concentrated in the center of your front and back, giving your arms plenty of space to swing.
  • Good for short people: The Ninja is a good option for young people and adults with short torsos.
  • Clamshell pocket: The large, double-zippered pocket contains multiple organizational features including a key clip and internal zip pocket.
  • Handwarmer pocket: A welcome feature for cold fingers!
  • Very durable: Reinforced seams, sturdy buckles, and ripstop fabric mean you don’t have to worry about accidental damage.
What I Don’t Like
  • Heavier than other PFDs: At over 2 pounds, the Ninja is twice the weight of some PFDs.
  • Doesn’t fit everyone: Slim women may find it hard to get the Ninja snug enough around the waist, especially if you have larger breasts.
  • Neck straps can rub: The straps cut close around your neck. This gives your shoulders great freedom of movement, but you may find the straps cut into your neck a bit.

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PFD Vests For Women

5. Astral Layla Women’s PFD – Best Life Vest for Women 

Astral Layla womens best pfd for sup best paddle board life jacket for women

The Astral Layla is hands down one of the best PFDs for women out there. 

Other than its stylish color options, it is tailored to perfectly fit the female figure.

It has hinged princess seams and sculpted bust cups. This allows for maximum chest room and easy adjustment for that perfect fit. 

The paddle board PFD has a large front pocket and is also compatible with a quick-release belt. It features a side zip to make it super easy to put on and take off. 

Every single detail on the Astral Layla is designed to make it the most comfortable PFD for women. My wife loves it!

What I Like
  • Tailored fit: The vest is designed to wrap around breasts, rather than squeezing them out, and the three adjustable side straps give a precise fit.
  • Flexible, soft foam: The soft Kapok foam molds to your body giving a close, comfortable fit.
  • Can be repaired: If you puncture the foam in most PFDs, you have to replace it. The Kapok foam in the Layla can be patched—or you can send it off to Astral who’ll repair it for you.
  • Handy pockets: The large front pocket contains two pockets plus a bungee cord to keep things organized.
  • Looks great: The flattering fit and color choices make this one stylish PFD.
What I Don’t Like
  • Expensive: The Astral is one of the most expensive PFDs on the market, but many women say it’s worth every cent!
  • Can get hot: The full coverage PFD is less breathable than other models and can get hot in warm weather.

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6. Astral E-Linda Women’s PFD For Paddle Boarding And Kayaking

astral linda lifejacket life vest for women for stand up paddle boarding and kayaking

The Astral Linda personal floatation device has a unique Thin-Vent back feature. The foam at the back panel is super thin. If you have a high back seat, maybe for SUP fishing, you will find it very comfortable. 

We like the thin mesh strip at the back. Life jackets can be uncomfortable on super hot days. This nice feature allows for circulation, keeping you cool.

You can get the Astral Linda in four beautiful colors: cherry red, lilac navy, clearwater blue, and crimson black. 

You should consider this USCG Type III life vest if your SUP adventures involve sitting in a SUP kayak seat for long periods. 

What I Like
  • Good for kayak seats: The thin foam on the back panel of the Linda makes it one of the most comfortable life jackets to use with a kayak seat.
  • Very lightweight: The Linda weighs just over a pound making it the lightest adult life vest in this review.
  • Good for hot weather: Breathable mesh paneling and a ventilation strip on the back helps keep you cool.
  • Low profile: The thin body-hugging foam means the Linda vest fits close to your body.
What I Don’t Like
  • Cover on the lash tab: The lash tab is covered by a fabric sleeve that’s so tight it’s hard to mount anything on the tab
  • Only two side straps: It’s a minor detail, but the Linda has two straps compared to the Layla’s three, making the fit slightly less customizable

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7. NRS Women’s Siren Personal Flotation Device 

NRS Siren Personal Flotation Device life jacket for Women for paddleboarding kayaking

The NRS Siren is another great vest for female paddle boarders. Its comfortable design features soft foam divided into six different panels. It fits nicely without being too bulky or restricting paddling movement.

The PFD has inner mesh panels that will keep you cool and happy throughout the day.  

You can buy the NRS Siren in three sizes and it has six adjustment points for a perfect fit. The shoulder straps are padded for added comfort and the vest has reflective accents for visibility.

There’s also a handy front zipper pocket. You can never have too much storage.

What I Like
  • Wrap-around fit: Six foam segments make it easy to wrap the vest around your torso to give a secure fit without it being overly tight.
  • Great range of movement: The narrow back and slim design give your arms and shoulders plenty of freedom to move about, making it easy to paddle.
  • Comfortable against your skin: The Siren’s soft inner fabric makes it comfortable to wear with a bikini or swimsuit.
  • Lifetime warranty: NRS vests are designed to last and are backed by a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
What I Don’t Like
  • Not great for large-busted women: The design of the Siren pushes your breasts out to the side. It’s not uncomfortable (I’m told), but it can look a bit odd.
  • Heavier than other models: The Siren is heavy, but the fit is good enough that you don’t really notice the extra weight.

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PFD Vests For Children

8. Stohlquist Youth Fit PFD Life Jacket – Best Paddle Board PFD For Teens 

stohlquist youth pfd

Getting the right life jacket for teens can be a difficult task. For them to keep it on, the fabric has to be soft and it has to fit nicely. 

The Stohlquist Youth Fit is my top recommendation if you are looking for a PFD that your young paddler will want to wear.

It is not restrictive and it allows the paddler to move freely. It’s great for stand up paddle boarding as well as other water sports.

The Stohlquist youth life vest is easy to put on, thanks to the three-buckle entry. It has a thin mesh back panel for comfort with high seatbacks. 

This Type III paddle board life jacket is USCG-approved. There are two sizes, fitting kids who weigh 50–90 pounds, and teens who weigh 75-125 pounds. 

What I Like
  • Large armholes: The Stohlquist Youth Fit is designed for paddling sports and the sculpted cut gives plenty of freedom to paddle.
  • Good fit: It’s hard to find a life jacket that fits all kids, but the Youth Fit does a reasonable job of fitting different shapes and sizes.
  • Choice of bright colors: You can buy lime, blue, and red versions (as well as black) that make it easy to locate your child on (or in) the water.
  • Great value for money: All the features you need for a very reasonable price.
What I Don’t Like
  • Rides up at the back: Because the armholes are so large, this vest can sometimes shift up around the neck if your kid jumps into the water.
  • Poor durability: You get what you pay for when it comes to durability. This isn’t the most durable jacket, so it’s best kept for occasional use.

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9. Stohlquist Child PFD– Best Life Jacket For Kids 

stohquist child pfd

As a parent, I don’t want to leave anything to chance as far as my child’s safety is concerned. For toddlers and young children, I want a PFD that’s comfortable, but most importantly, safe.

The Stohlquist Child personal flotation device fits children weighing 30–50 pounds. 

Even though it is a kid’s PFD, I love that it’s not restrictive and it offers full mobility. They can swim and have a good time outside like everyone else. 

The life jacket has head support as well as an adjustable crotch strap to keep it in place. It is breathable with large armholes for comfort. 

This Type III flotation device only weighs 0.8 pounds. 

What I Like
  • Double collar design: The inner collar gives your child extra neck support while the outer one supports their head when floating on their back.
  • Crotch strap: This is a must to prevent toddlers from slipping out of the vest.
  • Grab handle: If your child tumbles overboard, this lets you quickly grab them and pull them out.
  • Slim fitting: This PFD is much slimmer than others, making it less likely your child will complain about having to wear it!
  • High visibility colors: You can quickly pick your child out in the water if they get into difficulty. Choose the red vest for maximum visibility.
What I Don’t Like
  • Won’t flip your child onto their back: This is made clear in the description, but worth reiterating. Your child needs to have some swimming skills!

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Best Life Jackets for Dogs

10. NRS Canine PFD – Best SUP PFD For Dogs

Everyone in the family should wear a SUP life vest–and that includes the furry members.

The NRS Canine features a 1000D Cordura shell for unmatched durability

There are three adjustment straps to ensure that the life jacket fits snugly and securely. 

You’ll love the grab handle at the top of the PFD. It makes it easy to get your pup back onto the paddle board when he jumps.

The NRS Canine is available in five different sizes.

It has reflective tape for high visibility. 

You should check it out if you have a dog that loves SUP boarding just as much as you do.

What I Like
  • Very secure: The twin belly straps keep the jacket in position with no slipping or twisting.
  • Rugged and durable: You don’t have to worry about your pooch trashing his jacket. This PFD will be good for years.
  • High visibility design: Red is pretty visible in the water and the NRS Canine has reflective strips to help in low-light conditions.
  • Useful pocket: The zippered pocket on the back is large enough to store a leash, ball, or snacks, plus emergency information.
What I Don’t Like
  • Only five sizes: The NRS Canine will fit most dogs (including large breeds), but if your dog falls between sizes, you may struggle to get a good fit.

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11. Stohlquist Dog PFD 

stohlguist dog

This is another great option for paddlers with dogs.  

The Stohlquist Dog life jacket can fit pretty much any dog, regardless of shape and size. It comes in nine sizes.

One feature that makes this a fantastic PFD for dogs is the extra flotation foam under the chest. It keeps your pup’s airway out of the water when it is swimming. 

The grab handle is conveniently placed for easy retrieval of your dog. 

I love that this personal flotation device has reflective accents for visibility. 

What I Like
  • Choice of seven sizes: This makes the Stohlquist PFD is a better choice for small dogs.
  • Large grab handle: Easy to grab and haul your pup out of the water.
  • Supports airway: The foam chest panel helps keep your dog’s head out of the water.
  • Sleek design: This PFD is lightweight and slim-fitting, so your dog should be happy to wear it all day.
What I Don’t Like
  • Non-visible colors: Blue and yellow aren’t great colors for visibility in the water. Pink is better, but it may not be your first choice for a male dog.

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How to Choose a Life Jacket for Stand Up Paddle Boarding

A SUP PFD (personal floatation device), is a vest, jacket, or hip belt that you wear while paddle boarding. A PFD helps keep you afloat and increases your chances of survival in case of emergency.

The term “PFD” is often used interchangeably with “life jacket”. Technically, a life jacket is a buoyancy aid with neck support that’s designed to ensure an unconscious person floats on their back with their airway open. However, many people these days refer to any vest-style buoyancy aid as a “life jacket”.

A PFD is an important safety device that could save your life. It’s important to buy one that fits correctly, provides an appropriate level of buoyancy, and that you’ll wear!

Here’s what you need to know to find the right personal flotation device for you. 

Three Types of SUP PFD

When shopping for a PFD, you’ll come across three different PFD designs. Each has pros and cons.

Life Vest

This is basically a vest with floatation foam. It is the most common type of PFD. 

Although life vests tend to be bulky, life vests usually have zippered pockets and accessory attachment points. This makes them great for fishing.

Another advantage is that they don’t need inflating. As long as your vest is fitted correctly, it’ll keep you afloat if you fall into the water. 

Suspender Harness

A suspender harness is an inflatable PFD. It’s not as bulky as a life vest and it’s only inflated when you fall into the water.

It may inflate automatically or require manual inflation. 

With manual inflation, you pull a cord to inflate your PFD in case of an emergency. If it is an automatic PFD, it will inflate automatically when submerged. 

An automatic suspender harness can really save your life if, for some reason, you can’t pull the cord. 

Then again, falling in the water is a part of SUP and it is not always an emergency. If you regularly end up in the water, you’ll get through a lot of CO2 cartridges with a PFD that automatically inflates.

PFD Belt

This is the best option for paddle boarding because it doesn’t affect your paddling movement at all. 

A PFD belt stays completely out of your way. 

If you fall into the water, just pull the cord to inflate your PFD. 

Do You Have to Wear a Life Jacket on a Stand Up Paddle Board?

You do. Safety should always come first when you’re paddle boarding. Besides, life jackets on paddle boards are required by law. 

Everyone under the age of 13 has to wear a USCG-approved life jacket when on a paddleboard. This is according to USCG regulations. 

Everyone else is required to bring a PFD on the stand up paddle board. (But you should make it a personal rule to always wear yours). 

Every state has its own PFD laws

What To Consider When Buying a Stand Up Paddle PFD 

When choosing a life jacket for paddle boarding, here are some factors to bear in mind. 

1. Design: Is It A Comfortable Life Jacket?

An uncomfortable life jacket is a sure way to ruin your paddling adventures. You want something that you can wear for hours and even forget that you have it on. 

The right life jacket should conform to your body while allowing you to paddle and move freely. If you plan on sitting a lot, get one with a thin back panel so you can lean back on your seat comfortably. This is especially important if you have a SUP kayak seat with a high back. 

2. PFD Size: Does It Fit You?

To find a paddle boarding life jacket that fits you properly, consider your chest size, waist size, and weight. 

To be honest, buying a PFD for adults can be tricky when it comes to size. Even knowing your body measurements may not be enough, as sizing varies from one manufacturer to another.

Your best option is to try it on. The fit should be snug (not tight) and it shouldn’t slide up to your ears. 

If you’re buying a life jacket for kids, you only need to know their body weight. 

3. Life Jacket Classification – How Much Buoyancy Do You Need?

PFDs can either be inflatable or “inherently buoyant”. Inherently buoyant jackets are made from foam and don’t need to be inflated. This makes them a safer option for children, non-swimmers, and extreme survival situations.

Inflatable PFDs may inflate automatically or require the user to inflate them. If you have a life jacket that inflates automatically and you end up in the water, you’ll need to replace the gas cartridge before using it again. For this reason, most SUP boarders opt for manually-inflated PFDs.

US Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices fall into one of five categories, based on the style and level of buoyancy provided. 

  • Type I: most buoyant and heat-retaining life jacket, will turn most unconscious users face up. These life jackets are almost always inherently buoyant.
  • Type II: high level of buoyancy for all water conditions, less bulky than Type I PFDs. Can be inherently buoyant or inflatable.
  • Type III: designed for users on calm or inland waters, not designed to turn an unconscious person face-up. Mostly inflatable, but you can also get foam jackets (e.g. for kids).
  • Type IV: throwable flotation devices, such as ring buoys, not designed for paddle boarding.
  • Type V: “special use” life jackets that are designed for specific activities. Either hybrid or fully inflatable. PFD belts fall into this category.

4. Style: Do You Want a Life Vest, Suspender Harness, or PFD Belt?

Do you prefer a belt PFD, harness, or life vest?

They are all great for stand up paddling. So it’s a matter of personal preferences and your favorite SUP activity. 

For recreational paddling, you can choose a belt PFD or a harness if you think a vest would be too bulky. For fishing, you may want a life vest because of the storage options they offer. 

5. Material: Is It Durable?

A good life jacket material should be comfortable, easy to clean, and durable. 

Nylon and neoprene are great because not only are they long-lasting and reliable, but they also dry quickly. 

6. Ease of Use: Can You Quickly Inflate It in an Emergency?

A stand up paddle PFD doesn’t have to be complicated. Nobody wants to struggle every time they want to wear, take off, or adjust their life jacket. 

A simple zip and/or buckle straps are good enough as long as they work well. 

If it comes with attachment points for paddleboarding accessories, they should also be easy to figure out. 

Of course, the most important aspect is how easy it is to inflate in an emergency.

How To Clean and Maintain Your Stand Up Paddle Board PFD

To effectively clean a life jacket while retaining its integrity, select a mild cleaning solution like soap and water, alcohol spray, or a multipurpose cleaner suitable for marine equipment.

Gently apply the solution to the jacket, scrubbing softly to remove dirt without compromising the material. Rinse thoroughly to avoid residue.

Air drying is crucial; never use a dryer. Avoid harsh chemicals, store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and consider a UV protectant spray to maintain condition.

How To Stay Safe When Paddle Boarding

Other than wearing your PFD (at all times), here are things you can do to stay safe while paddle boarding. 

Wear a Leash

First, invest in a high-quality and comfortable leash. 

The purpose of a leash is to ensure that you are not separated from your paddle board when you fall off. 

Your board can quickly drift away, leaving you stranded. This is not a situation you would want to be in. 

Assess Your Skill Level

It is easy to overestimate what you can do when it comes to SUP and the water in general. But if you are not an experienced paddle boarder, avoid rough conditions. Stick to what you are sure you can handle. 

Check the Water and Weather Conditions

This is especially important when you’re heading out to a remote place or a spot you are not familiar with. 

Assess the wind, currents, waves, temperature, and other factors. Talk to local paddlers if it is your first time there.

Stand Up Paddle PFD FAQs

Do You Need a PFD on a Paddle Board?

When it comes to paddle boarding, one question that often arises is, “Do you need a PFD on a paddle board?” The short answer is yes, you do need a personal flotation device (PFD) while paddle boarding, and here’s why.

Firstly, safety is paramount in all water sports, including paddle boarding. A PFD, or personal flotation device, is a life-saving piece of equipment designed to keep you afloat in the water. When you’re paddle boarding, whether on a calm lake or the open ocean, unexpected situations can occur. Falling off your paddle board can be dangerous, especially if you’re far from shore or in cold water. Wearing the best PFD for paddle boarding ensures that you stay buoyant and can prevent drowning.

Several types of PFDs are suitable for paddle boarding. The best life jacket or vest for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. A paddle board life jacket is a great option, offering comfort and mobility while ensuring safety. Many paddle boarders prefer a low profile or inflatable PFD because it provides freedom of movement, which is crucial for paddling.

Inflatable vests, such as the Onyx MoveVent or MTI brand vests, are popular choices due to their lightweight and compact design. These vests can be easily inflated with a pull of a cord, making them a convenient and unobtrusive option for paddle boarding. Additionally, some PFD models come with a pouch or belt, making them even more versatile and easy to wear.

For those who engage in various paddle sports, such as kayaking or rafting, a good PFD is essential. Brands like Astral and NRS offer premium life jackets that provide excellent buoyancy and are designed for comfort and durability. These vests are made with advanced technology to ensure they are lightweight yet highly effective.

In terms of functionality, the best PFDs for paddle boarding offer features such as adjustable straps, quick-release buckles, and ample ventilation to keep you cool. Some life vests also come with additional storage pockets, allowing you to carry essential supplies while on the water.

It’s important to note that regulations often require the use of a PFD when paddle boarding. The U.S. Coast Guard, for example, mandates that a PFD must be worn or carried on board by all paddle boarders. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and, more importantly, put your safety at risk.

When choosing the best life jacket for paddle boarding, consider factors such as fit, buoyancy, and comfort. A well-fitted PFD should not restrict your movement and should stay securely in place even if you fall into the water. Testing different life jacket brands and models can help you find the perfect match for your paddling needs.

In conclusion, wearing a PFD while paddle boarding is not just a recommendation – it’s a necessity. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, investing in a great PFD ensures that you can enjoy your time on the water safely. With a variety of options available, from low profile inflatable vests to more traditional life jackets, there is a perfect PFD out there to suit your paddle boarding adventures.

How Do Belt PFDs Work?

Belt PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) are an innovative and convenient type of life-saving equipment particularly popular among paddle boarding enthusiasts. Unlike traditional life jackets or vests, belt PFDs are worn around the waist, providing a low-profile solution for those who want safety without compromising freedom of movement. Here’s a detailed look at how the belt PFDs work and why they might be the best PFD option for your paddle boarding adventures.

Design and Wearability

Belt PFDs are designed to be worn around the waist, similar to a belt. Belt PFDs are incredibly compact and lightweight, making them a great choice for those who prefer not to wear a bulky life jacket while paddle boarding. This design offers a significant advantage in terms of comfort and mobility, allowing paddleboarders to move freely and enjoy their time on the water without feeling encumbered by a traditional life vest.

Activation Mechanism

Most belt PFDs use a manual activation mechanism. When needed, the wearer pulls a tab or handle, which triggers the release of a CO2 cartridge. This cartridge then inflates the PFD, transforming it from a compact belt into a buoyant life-saving device. This manual activation gives paddleboarders control over when to deploy their PFD, ensuring it is only used in genuine emergencies. The process is simple and quick, making it highly effective in critical situations.

Inflatable Technology

The core technology behind belt PFDs involves inflatable bladders. These bladders, once inflated by the CO2 cartridge, provide the necessary buoyancy to keep the wearer afloat. The inflatable nature of these devices allows them to be compact when not in use, and rapidly deployable when needed. This inflatable technology is what makes belt PFDs a top choice for many paddle boarders, offering a balance of convenience, safety, and functionality.

Great for Paddle Boarding

Belt PFDs are particularly suited for paddle sports, including paddle boarding, because of their low-profile design and ease of use. For paddleboarders, having a great PFD that doesn’t interfere with paddling is crucial. These devices provide the safety of a traditional life jacket without the bulk, allowing for an enjoyable and unrestricted paddling experience. The compact design also makes it easier to carry other equipment, such as paddles, without feeling weighed down.

Top Brands and Reliability

Several top brands, including Onyx and NRS, offer high-quality belt PFDs. These brands are known for their rigorous testing and reliability, ensuring that their products will perform when needed. The Onyx M-16, MoveVent and NRS belt PFDs, for example, are popular choices among paddleboarders due to their durability and effective design. Investing in a belt PFD from a reputable brand ensures that you have a reliable personal flotation device that meets safety standards.

Maintenance and Testing

Maintaining a belt PFD is straightforward but essential for ensuring its functionality. Regularly check the CO2 cartridge and replace it if it has been used or is damaged. Testing the inflation mechanism periodically is also recommended to ensure it will work when needed. Proper maintenance guarantees that the PFD remains in top condition, providing peace of mind while enjoying water sports.

In summary, belt PFDs offer a great solution for paddle boarders looking for the best PFD that combines safety, comfort, and ease of use. Their innovative design, manual activation mechanism, and inflatable technology make them a top choice for those engaging in paddle sports. By choosing a belt PFD from a trusted brand and maintaining it properly, paddleboarders can enjoy a safe and unhindered experience on the water.

Can Inflatable Life Jackets Be Reused?

Yes, inflatable life jackets can be reused, making them a great option for paddle boarding and other water sports. They offer a convenient and effective way to ensure safety without the bulk of traditional life vests. However, there are several important factors to consider to maintain their functionality and ensure they remain the best PFD choice for your needs.

Maintenance and Inspection

Inflatable life jackets are designed to be reused, but they require regular maintenance and inspection. After each use, it’s crucial to inspect the vest for any signs of wear and tear. Look for punctures, leaks, or damage to the outer shell of the life vest and seams. Ensuring that the life jacket is in good condition will provide confidence that it will perform correctly when needed.

CO2 Cartridge and Activation Mechanism

One of the key components of an inflatable life jacket is the CO2 cartridge, which inflates the jacket when activated. The cartridge must be checked regularly to ensure it is full and properly secured. Many PFD brands, such as Onyx and Astral, provide clear instructions on how to inspect and replace the CO2 cartridge. It’s important to replace the cartridge after each inflation, even if it was used in a non-emergency situation, to ensure that the life jacket is ready for future use.

The activation mechanism should also be tested periodically. Some inflatable life vests have a manual pull cord, while others offer automatic activation when submerged in water. Familiarize yourself with the specific activation mechanism of your life jacket and perform regular tests according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Repacking the Jacket

After an inflatable life jacket has been used, it needs to be properly deflated and repacked. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure that the jacket is correctly folded and stowed. This step is crucial for maintaining the low profile and comfort that makes inflatable life jackets popular among paddleboarders and other water sports enthusiasts.

Storage and Care

Storing your inflatable life jacket in a cool, dry place will help prolong its life. Avoid exposing the jacket to direct sunlight for extended periods, as UV rays can degrade the materials over time. Keeping the jacket clean and free from salt, sand, and other debris will also help maintain its condition.

Choosing the Best PFD

When selecting the best life jacket for paddle boarding, consider the following factors:

  1. Fit and Comfort: Ensure the vest fits snugly but allows for freedom of movement. A great PFD will not hinder your paddling or other activities.
  2. Buoyancy: Check the buoyancy rating to ensure it meets your needs. Inflatable life vests generally provide adequate buoyancy for most paddle sports.
  3. Brand and Quality: Opt for reputable brands like Onyx or Astral, which are known for their durable and reliable products.
  4. Features: Look for additional features such as pockets, reflective strips, and compatibility with other safety gear.

In summary, inflatable life jackets are a reusable and effective safety option for paddle boarding and other water sports. With proper maintenance, inspection, and care, these life vests can provide reliable protection while allowing you to enjoy your time on the water. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and replace the CO2 cartridge after each use to ensure your jacket is ready for any situation.

Life Vest Vs Inflatable Belt: Which Is Better for SUP Beginners?

When it comes to stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), safety is paramount. Choosing between a life vest and an inflatable belt can be challenging, especially for beginners. To help you make an informed decision, let’s explore the differences and benefits of each PFD type, considering various factors like comfort, safety, and functionality.

Life Vests

Life vests, also known as personal flotation devices (PFDs), are a traditional and reliable choice for SUP beginners. They provide excellent buoyancy, ensuring that you stay afloat in the water. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Safety: Life vests are highly buoyant and offer immediate flotation without requiring any activation. This makes them the best paddle board life vest for beginners who may not be familiar with the workings of inflatable devices.
  2. Comfort: Modern life vests, such as the Onyx MoveVent, are designed to be lightweight and comfortable, allowing for a full range of motion while paddling. They come in various sizes and styles, making it easy to find a good fit for any body type.
  3. Functionality: Life vests typically feature multiple pockets and attachment points for carrying essential gear, such as whistles, water bottles, or even snacks. This added functionality can be very beneficial during long paddling sessions or in emergency situations.
  4. Durability: Life vests are made from robust materials that can withstand rough use, making them a durable choice for various water sports, including kayaking, rafting, and SUP paddling.

Inflatable Belts

Inflatable belts, also known as inflatable PFDs or inflatable life belts, offer a different approach to safety. These low-profile devices are worn around the waist and can be inflated manually when needed. Here’s why they might be a good option:

  1. Low Profile: Inflatable belts are unobtrusive and allow for greater freedom of movement, making them ideal for those who prefer a minimalist approach. This can be particularly beneficial for SUP racing or long-distance paddling where comfort and flexibility are crucial.
  2. Convenience: These belt PFDs are compact and easy to store, often coming with a small pouch for carrying. They don’t interfere with your paddling technique, providing a more natural paddling experience.
  3. Technology and Activation: Most inflatable belts, such as the ones from brands like Onyx and MTI, use CO2 cartridges for inflation. They feature a pull tab for manual activation, which deploys the flotation device within seconds. Some models also have an oral inflation tube as a backup.
  4. Versatility: Inflatable belts are suitable for various water sports beyond paddle boarding, including kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling. Their versatility makes them a great option for multi-sport enthusiasts.

Which Is Better for SUP Beginners?

For beginners, a life vest is generally the best choice for several reasons:

  • Immediate Safety: A life vest provides instant flotation without needing any activation. This is crucial for beginners who may panic or forget to activate an inflatable belt in an emergency.
  • Ease of Use: Life vests are straightforward and don’t require any maintenance other than regular checks for wear and tear. In contrast, inflatable belts require checking the CO2 cartridges and ensuring the activation mechanism is functional.
  • Buoyancy: Life vests offer higher buoyancy than inflatable belts, which can be critical in keeping a beginner’s head above water, especially in rough conditions.

However, for more experienced paddlers or those looking for a less bulky option, an inflatable belt can be a great choice due to its low profile and freedom of movement.

In conclusion, while both life vests and inflatable belts have their advantages, the best PFD for SUP beginners is a traditional life vest. It offers superior safety, ease of use, and reliability, ensuring that you can enjoy your paddle boarding experience with peace of mind. As you gain more experience and confidence on the water, you might find an inflatable belt to be a suitable option for its convenience and comfort.

What are the US Coast Guard regulations for life jackets on paddle boards?

When paddle boarding, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has specific regulations for life jackets (PFDs). Paddle boarders must have a USCG-approved life jacket on board at all times. While wearing a life jacket is not always mandatory for adults, it is required for children under 13 in most states. The best PFDs for paddle boarding include inflatable vests and low-profile life jackets, which provide safety without compromising comfort or mobility.

For paddleboarding, it’s important to choose a good, high-quality PFD that suits your activity. For instance, the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest is a great PFD that offers good mobility and comfort, making it an excellent choice for paddle sports. Similarly, the NRS Ninja PFD is known for its exceptional range of movement, making it another great option for paddle boarding.

In summary, always have a life jacket on your paddle board, ensure it’s USCG-approved, and choose a PFD that provides both safety and comfort for the best paddle boarding experience.

How do I maintain and care for my paddle board life vest?

Maintaining and caring for your paddle board life vest is essential to ensure its longevity and performance.

Whether you have the best paddle board life vest or a more basic model, proper care can make a significant difference in its functionality and safety.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to maintain and care for your paddle boarding life vest.

Regular Inspection and Cleaning

First and foremost, it’s crucial to inspect your life vest regularly. Before each paddle boarding session, check for any visible damage such as tears, rips, or worn areas. Inspect the buckles, zippers, and straps to ensure they are functioning correctly. The best life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) will last longer if you identify and address minor issues early.

After each paddling session, rinse your vest with fresh water to remove salt, sand, and dirt. This is especially important if you’ve been paddling in the ocean. Saltwater can degrade the materials over time, affecting the vest’s buoyancy and durability. Use a mild soap if necessary, but avoid harsh detergents or bleach, as these can damage the fabric and flotation material.

Drying and Storage

Proper drying is essential to prevent mold and mildew. After rinsing, hang your life vest in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Excessive UV exposure can weaken the material, so it’s best to let your PFD air dry in a shaded spot. Ensure the vest is completely dry before storing it to avoid mildew growth, which can compromise the vest’s integrity and safety.

Store your life vest in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving it in damp or humid areas, such as a wet basement or garage. Hanging the vest on a hanger can help maintain its shape and ensure it’s ready for your next paddle boarding adventure.

Special Care for Inflatable Vests

If you use an inflatable life vest, such as those equipped with CO2 cartridges, additional care is required. Regularly check the CO2 cartridge to ensure it is properly installed and has not been discharged. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing the inflation mechanism of the life vest. It’s a good idea to manually inflate the vest periodically to check for leaks and ensure the valve and inflation system are functioning correctly.

Final PFD Maintenance Tips

  1. Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Always adhere to the care and maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer. PFD brands like Onyx and NRS offer specific guidelines for their products.
  2. Replace When Necessary: Even the best life jackets have a limited lifespan. If your vest shows signs of significant wear or damage, it’s time to invest in a new one.
  3. Emergency Kit: Keep a small repair kit on hand for minor repairs. This kit can include patches, extra buckles, and a multi-tool.

By following these maintenance and care tips, you can ensure your paddle board life vest remains in top condition, providing the best possible safety and performance during your paddle boarding and other water sports adventures. Remember, a well-maintained life vest is crucial for your safety on the water.

What is the best life vest for hot weather paddle boarding?

Choosing the best life vest for hot weather paddle boarding involves considering both comfort and safety. When paddle boarding in hot weather, it’s crucial to have a personal flotation device (PFD) that is not only effective but also keeps you cool and comfortable. Here are some key points to help you find the ideal PFD for paddle boarding in hot weather:

Key Features to Look for in a Hot Weather PFD

  1. Ventilation
    • Look for life vests with mesh panels or ventilation channels. These features allow airflow, reducing heat buildup and keeping you cooler during your paddle boarding sessions.
  2. Lightweight Design
    • A lightweight PFD will be less cumbersome and more comfortable in hot conditions. Lightweight materials and construction help ensure that you don’t feel weighed down while paddling.
  3. Low Profile
    • A low-profile life vest offers greater freedom of movement, which is crucial for paddle sports. This design helps in maintaining balance and maneuverability on the paddleboard.
  4. Adjustability
    • Adjustable straps and secure closures like zippers and buckles help achieve a comfortable and snug fit. Being able to customize the fit of your PFD ensures that it stays in place and provides optimal safety without causing discomfort.

Why These Features Matter

For paddle boarding, the combination of safety and comfort is paramount. A great PFD life vest for hot weather should maintain buoyancy and safety while preventing overheating. Reputable PFD brands in the market often incorporate these features into their designs, ensuring high-quality construction tailored for paddlesport activities.

Other Considerations

  • Material: Choose materials that are quick-drying and have moisture-wicking properties. This helps in keeping the vest comfortable against your skin.
  • Color: Bright colors enhance visibility, which can be an added safety feature in busy waters.
  • Ease of Movement: Ensure the design allows for a full range of motion, crucial for effective paddling and maneuvering.

When paddle boarding in hot weather, choosing the best PFD life vest can significantly enhance your experience.

Prioritize life vests that offer excellent ventilation, lightweight construction, and a comfortable fit. These features ensure that you stay safe and cool, allowing you to enjoy your time on the water to the fullest.

Always opt for a PFD that combines functionality with comfort, making your paddleboarding adventures both enjoyable and secure.

Final Thoughts – What is the Best Paddle Board Life Jacket?

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My top paddle board life jackets include models for every member of the family—including your furry friends.

The Onyx M-16 is at the top of my list. I love how compact it is, allowing you to move and paddle freely. It’s so comfortable, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing it.

You should check out the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic if you’re on a tight budget. It’s more affordable but still reliable and comfortable. The Astral Layla is an amazing option for female paddle boarders. It’s tailored for women and is very adjustable, so you can get a great fit, whatever shape and size you are.

If you have any questions about SUP PFDs feel free to ask us below. Happy paddling!