What To Look For:
You need to find a PFD that fits properly. It should be snug, and not be able to rise above the head and should allow comfortable breathing. Once you zip, strap and/or buckle it up, you should be able to paddle unrestricted. Put it on and mock paddle, making sure you can move with ease and it doesn’t chafe or hurt. Modern jackets have a “V” shape to them, so that you don’t feel restricted and feel like your just wearing a puffy jacket.
Why You Need It:
You need a PFD – period. And wear it – always. I know, you’re a manly man and an Olympic swimmer who can still manage to portage all day, get surprised and fall out of the boat, getting knocked on the head by a rock in a strong current or rapids and still be able to swim yourself out of that situation. Well it will be easier to do in a PFD, and if you buy a bright yellow one, everyone will be able to see your great swimming skills more easily. Buy a pink one with glitters to show off your fashion sense, or a dark one and paint a skull on it to show what a rebel you are if you must. Just wear it.
How You Can Live Without It:
In the worst case, you won’t.
On The Cheap:
This is something I definitely would scrimp on, considering it can save your life. Again there’s good news though: Most canoe rentals come with a life jacket, and the outfitters will help you size one specifically for you.
What Will Make Them All Jealous:
I’m not really sure how impressive PFDs are to anyone, but you can certainly put some money into a well fitted modern lifejacket. They come with buckles or zippers or straps to match your preference, and often have pockets for convenience. This can really be an upgrade in comfort to rental.
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