Best Paddle Board Life Jackets

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You got your paddle board, now all you need is a life jacket for paddle boarding! And yes it is required for you to have one by most governing bodies like the US Coast Guard and Transport Canada. 

I was in your very position less than a year ago when I had to pick the best paddle board life jacket for my needs. My old one had seen its years and it was getting increasingly uncomfortable to paddle with. So I ended up getting the Onyx Movevent Torsion Life Vest.

Below I will teach you everything I have learned as well as reveal my personal pick. I will also reveal some of the candidates I had in mind for those who want either life vests or automatic inflation PFDs

If you want to learn the specific process I went through to pick a paddle board life jacket check out our Buyers guide which you can see in our Table of contents below

Best Paddle Board Life Jackets

Here is our list of the best Paddleboard life jackets, including our Editor’s pick, our pick for the best lightweight best, our pick for extreme wear, the best belt pack pick, our pick for the best automatic vest, our Woman’s pick, and the best vest for comfort.

They are one of the most important paddle boarding accessories you can have so pick carefully!

The Best life jackets for paddle boarding that I had on my shortlist are the following below:

  1. Onyx Movevent Torsion – (Editors Pick)
  2. Stohlquist Edge PFD – (Paddle Sports Pick)
  3. Astral, GreenJacket – (Premium Pick)
  4. Onyx M16 – (Belt Pick)
  5. Mustang Khimera – (Hybrid Pick)
  6. Astral Layla – (Women’s Fitted Pick)
  7. Onyx M24 – (Automatic Inflation Pick) 

1. Onyx MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Jacket (Editors Pick)


  • Sizes: Medium and Large
  • Materials: Nylon, mesh panels, 
  • Weight: 1.35 lb.
  • Buoyancy Rating: 15.5 lb.
  • Type classification: Type III

Why is the Onyx MoveVent Torsion a Good SUP PFD?

The Onyx MoveVent Torsion paddle board life jacket is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a little bit of extra comfort. The MoveVent makes it possible to adjust the fit of the life jacket to ensure that you have optimal comfort and support while paddling. 

This mesh ventilation system also helps you stay cool and dry, which is especially important when you are out on the water for extended periods and encountered a fall or two.

The Onyx MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Jacket also has some great safety features, including a whistle and reflective tape that will help you be seen in case of an emergency.

When I use it fits snuggly both on your skin during the summer and under some layers during those colder days. Hence why I believe its the best life vest for paddle boarding.

Materials Explained

The Onyx MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Jacket is made from 400 denier nylon ripstop and 200 denier nylon oxford materials. This combination of materials makes the jacket very durable and able to withstand the wear and tear of regular use. 

Bad Hair day! Sorry! 😛

The outer shell is also treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish to help protect it from the elements.

What Customers Think

Customers on Reddit didn’t have any complaints about the onyx MoveVent. Instead, they said the paddle doesn’t get in the way, and the jacket is very stylish. 

I personally have one (as seen in the above picture) and I was pleased with its fitting and size. When you capsize it does not ride up too much and it stays snug to your chest while floating.  


  • Adjustable torso length (22″-26″ range)
  • Comfortable and supportive shoulder straps
  • Cooling channels help keep you dry and comfortable
  • Durable construction with ripstop and oxford materials
  • Reflective tape and whistle for added safety


  • No breast pocket
  • The price is a bit steep
  • The jacket has no rear pocket for storing valuables

2. Stohlquist Edge PFD (Paddle Sports Pick)

Photo from Stohlquist Canada


  • Sizes: S/M, L/XL,2XL
  • Material: PVC, 240 Ripstop, 200 D Nylon
  • Weight: 1.7lbs
  • Buoyancy rating: S/M 15 lb, L/XL 16 lb, 2XL 17lb
  • Type classification: Type III PFD

Why is the Stohlquist Edge PFD a good SUP PFD?

This is a great paddle sports life jacket from Stohquist. The Edge life vest is well suited for paddling on the water with a variety of different vessels thanks to its highback. It features an adjustable torso length so you can choose the perfect fit for you.

You won’t have a problem finding a place to store your valuables while wearing this PFD. There’s no rear pocket, but instead, there’s a small zippered pocket on the right-hand side of this life jacket that you can use to store items like keys, cash, or even a cellphone.

This jacket is very lightweight, making it very easy to wear and paddle around in. It’s also a very comfortable PFD to wear while floating. It’s a contoured fit that snuggly hugs your body while doing all sorts of paddling strokes


This PFD is made from PVC foam material, which makes it very durable and retains its flexibility, so you will not feel uncomfortable wearing this life jacket in the water.

Surrounding the PVC is 200 D Nylon and 240 D ripstop material on the outer shell, making it a jacket that can take a scrape or two. 

It’s easy to adjust the sizing of this PFD using the Velcro straps located at each shoulder, which makes it very suitable for all types of fit.

With the graded size system, you can easily adjust the size of this life jacket to fit you perfectly.

What Customers Think

According to a customer on Reddit, this PFD is great for beginners. The great thing about this paddle board vest is the fact that it can be used for a variety of different uses. In fact on the Stohlquist page, it’s a particular favorite with sailors


  • Made from PVC, making the foam very durable and retains its flexibility
  • Easy to adjust the sizing of this PFD using the Velcro straps located at each shoulder, which makes it very suitable for all types of fit
  • Some room in the pockets
  • Lightweight and will not make you feel uncomfortable when wearing it in the water


  • Not available in more sizes
  • Has a chafing problem according to some customers

3. Astral GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD (Premium Pick)


  • Sizes: S/M, M/L, L/XL
  • Materials: Nylon shell and 500 Denier Cordura
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Buoyancy Rating:16.5 lbs
  • Type Specification: Type V

Why is the Astral, GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD a good SUP PFD?

The Astral GreenJacket is a good SUP pick for those doing some more extreme SUPing. Activities that come to mind include ocean and white water paddling

The Astral, GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD comes in three sizes S/M, M/L, and L/XL.

If you’re looking for a paddle sports life jacket that will keep you afloat and prevent you from drowning, in more tricky conditions then this is an excellent PFD to have on your side.

What I really liked about the Atral Green Jacket is rather than just having pockets to stuff your belongings into, there are compartmental pockets that are within the main pocket allowing you to store, clip any small accessories you want on the go! 

Ideal for your river paddling enthusiasts who want built-in safety features like the quick release system. As well as the rope ready storage underneath the front panel.


The outer layer is made of 500 Denier Cordura, while the inner lining is made of nylon. This material is good because it is lightweight and durable. Meant to take a beating. It’s a favorite among white water kayakers!

The Astral, GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD is very comfortable and easy to put on. It has a good quality zipper, and it will fit most people.

Another reason why I love this PFD is that it has a high level of quality. It comes from a good manufacturer with a lot of experience in the paddling industry.

Though the price is a bit steep, it’s a must-have for the more extreme kayakers and SUP river enthusiasts alike.

What Customers Think

Some customers think that the green jacket is huge though they barely feel it when on water. Customers are full of praise as a few have even noted it is the best life jacket for paddle boarding they have ever worn. 


  • Very comfortable and durable
  • Comes in three sizes
  • High-quality paddle boarding life vest that white water and sea kayakers crave too


  • Slightly more expensive than other paddle sports life jackets
  • Heavy for a paddle sports life jacket

4. Onyx M-16 Belt Pack (Belt Pick) 


  • Size: One size
  • Material: Polyester
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs
  • Buoyancy rating: 17 lbs
  • Type Classification: Type V 

Why is the Onyx M-16 Belt Pack a Good SUP PFD?

The Onyx M-16 Belt Pack is a good SUP PFD because it’s very lightweight. For those who hate the idea of even putting a life vest on. This is one of the lightest and least bulky PFD’s you can use. Which makes it great for SUP racers and yoga enthusiasts alike!

The Onyx M-16 Belt Pack is also one of the cheapest PFD’s you can buy on Amazon.

Onyx M-16 Belt Pack has a few advantages over other paddle sports life jackets such as NRS and Astral, GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD.

Most of that is that it is like wearing a discreet fanny pack (remember those?). The Onyx M-16 Belt Pack is very comfortable to wear, and it’s effortless to adjust the size to fit most body sizes. For the price, you’ll be getting the most value for your money.

The only downside is that after each time you pull the tab to inflate the pillow, you have to replace the CO2 canister.  So for those who are not confident swimmers it’s best to go the life vest route to save money in the long run. 


The M16 is made of polyester followed by a CO2 canister that needs replacing after each use. 

What Customers Think

Customers think this option is cheap and not as bulky and movement restrictive as the vest option. Keep in mind you have to be 16 years old and older in order to use this automatic inflation option.


  • Lightweight
  • Cheapest PFD available
  • Good buoyancy rating


  • Does not inflate automatically
  • Unsuitable for surfing as it’s not waterproof
  • No back pad on the shoulder straps, which can cause discomfort to the user

5. Mustang Khimera PFD  (Hybrid Pick)

Will replace when I have a better picture of my friend in his Mustang PFD!


  • Size: one size
  • Materials: Cordura Polyester oxford, polyethylene foam, nylon
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Buoyancy rating: 20 lbs
  • Type Classification: Type III

Why is the Mustang Khimera PFD a Good SUP PFD?

The Mustang Khimera PFD has been designed to be both a vest and an automatic inflation life vest. The foam in the vest provides 7.5 lbs of buoyancy while the inflatable bladder provides 13 lbs of buoyancy.

 The quick-release, easy adjustability, and comfort make it an ideal choice for anyone wanting a complete protection life jacket. It’s also officially Coast Guard and Transport Canada approved.

With the tailored-to-the-body design of the Mustang Khimera PFD, you can stay sleek while staying protected while in water. Some of its bright colors also make it stand out in the water for emergency situations. In my opinion, light blue is the best-looking option. 


The material used, Cordura polyester oxford, nylon, and polyethylene foam, gives it a durable and long-lasting life and increases buoyancy.

The front pocket also allows you to store smaller items like your cell phone or some snacks. Best to waterproof them though!

Though the price is a bit on the higher side, the comfort you get from this jacket makes it worth it. Of the Life vests, we reviewed it is one of the slimmest, least bulky fits.

What Customers Think

Customers didn’t have a problem with this life jacket and thought it to be low profile. My friend actually uses this jacket and was very happy with his purchase. He likes how lightweight it feels when paddling. When in the water I noticed that the PFD does not go above the ears which is a good sign! 


  • Very comfortable
  • Quick-release buckles
  • Adjustable straps make it a snug fit


  • Can’t use the jacket in freezing water
  • Can get more expensive if you keep using the CO2 canisters. 

6. Astral Layla (Women’s Pick)

From Astral Youtube Video


  • Sizes: XS, S/M, M/L, L/XL
  • Material: 200 X 400 Nylon and PVC free Gaia and PE Foam
  • Weights: 1.7- 1.84 lbs
  • Buoyancy rating: 16.3 lbs
  • Type Classification: Type III

Why is the Astral Layla a Good SUP PFD?

The Astra Layla is the perfect design for Ladies and therefore the best women’s pfd for paddle boarding. This jacket has been designed to fit curvy women seamlessly. In addition, the jacket has breast cups and princess seams that are hinged, thus creating an ideal fit.

The Astral Layla is a very light but comfortable PFD for SUPs. It’s ideal for women who are paddling for more than an hour and want something that is comfortable. 


Astra Layla is made of 200 X 400 nylon and PVC, making it durable and water-resistant. The material is also more environmentally friendly by using a mixture of Organic kapok and Gaia with PE foam. 

What Customers Think?

Customers prefer the astral brand saying that it is very comfortable and of high quality. The Astral Layla is not only comfortable but fits very well, specifically for the more busty gals out there (not everyone are sticks!).

While I am not a lady, I do have some female paddling friends who rave about this life vest. They use it not just for paddle boarding but also for kayaking and boating. 


  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Many pockets which are useful for storing your stuff while paddling
  • Easily adjustable sizing
  • Not expensive compared to other specialty women SUP PFDs
  • Excellent buoyancy rating, which can keep you afloat even if you fall into the water


  • Not made for rough paddling
  • Some reports that its not 100% waterproof

7. Onyx AM 24

Photo from Onyx Youtuve Video


  • Sizes: For people over 80 lbs
  • Materials: Nylon
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Buoyancy rating: 22.5 lbs
  • Type classification: Type V 

Why is the Onyx A/M 24 a Good SUP PFD?

The Onyx A/M 24 is a good choice for SUPs because outside of the belt PFD, it’s the least bulky pick. So if you are looking at those tan lines this could be an option.

Its lightweight, unintrusive design is also a hit with paddle boarders. For those in warm weather, it would also be a good choice. However, much like the Onyx M16, it’s an automatic inflation device.


It is made of nylon material with a CO2 canister. If you are a strong swimmer and want to just have it for regulation/ safety reasons it’s a good pick, but if you are not it can get costly over time. This is because you have to replace the CO2 canister after each use. 

What Customers Think

Most of the customers said that the shoulder strap was a little uncomfortable and was not adjustable.

One customer warned of making sure that you purchase the right re-arming kit. Some do not work with this kind of model. 


  • Lightweight and very comfortable to wear
  • Straightforward to adjust the size,
  • Excellent buoyancy rating, which can keep you afloat even if you fall into the water.


  • Suitable for SUPs but not for more extreme activities because it’s not very durable and can be easily broken
  • You have to make sure you get the right cartridge for it
  • Can self-inflate, so don’t leave it outside

Ask a Stand Up Paddle Boarder: What to Look for in a SUP PFD

Guess what? I was in your position too just under a year ago! I had a cheaper Buoy o Buoy life vest that had definitely seen its fair share over the years. While I had to admire its longevity it was definitely NOT a paddle board life vest. 

My main problem with it was that it took too much space and it felt heavier due to the material. Not to mention my arm would often rub against the panels, often getting the way of my paddle strokes. 

So today I’ll be showing you the thought process I went through to pick a paddle board PFD that was best for my needs.

Where Are You Paddling?

Chances are if you are browsing this article, the vast majority of you will be paddling in calm water conditions like lakes, coastal waters, and calm rivers. So I’ll speak to you folks first!

For calm water conditions either a Type III (The vast majority of life vests) or Type V belt or suspender PFD will be chosen. The type you choose will come down to your preferences. 

Type V belts are ideal for lake use and coastal conditions as long as you are:

  • A confident swimmer
  • You are not near any obstacles where you could hit your head
  • You remember to Replace the C02 canister if already used
  • When its hot out and you don’t want anything wrapped around you

Type III life vest type PFD’s are ideal for

  • People who are not comfortable in the water and can’t swim
  • Going further out in the water
  • Holding smaller items like granola bars, phones, whistles etc
  • A good bet for cooler/ temperate conditions

For folks looking for something in more extreme conditions who have some experience under their belt in white water or coastal conditions. It’s best to stick with Type III PFDs as they can absorb impact. Belt PFDs are not impact resistant so if you become unconscious, there’s not much it can do. PFDs like the Astral Green Jacket are good for more special activities. 

PFD Buoyancy

People often get confused when they read the buoyancy ratings as the first thing they think is “I’m way heavier than the recommended 16 pounds! How the heck will this save me?

The reason for these lower ratings is that this is the approximate weight that is needed to keep your head above the water. Most adults need between 7 and 12 pounds buoyancy depending on a few factors such as their weight, body fat, lung capacity and clothing. 

Below is a table I have taken from the folks at Life Jacket Association as to how much buoyancy you should look for per life vest.

Type Life Jacket/PFD (Adult)Minimum Adult Inherent BuoyancyMinimum Inflatable Buoyancy
Type I22 pounds34 pounds
Type II15.5 pounds34 pounds
Type III15.5 pounds22.5 pounds
Type IV16.5 pounds
Type V18 pounds
Type I Hybrid15.5 pounds (deflated)32 pounds (fully inflated)
Type II & III Hybrid10 pounds (deflated)22 pounds (fully inflated)
Type V Hybrid7.5 pounds (deflated)22 pounds (fully inflated)
Type V Special-Use15.5 to 22 pounds22.5 to 34 pounds

The ones to specifically look for when stand up paddle boarding are bolded. As you can see all of our picks are within the ranges. 

If you pick up a PFD from a reputable paddling manufacturer that is USC, Canada Coast Guard approved you will be in good order. Which brings us to our next point..

Governing Bodies 

One thing people often forget is making sure that the PFD they get is approved by their governing body. In Canada the PFD needs to be Transport Canada approved. In the United Stated you need to be USC (United States Coast Guard Approved). Luckily recently there was an agreement between the two governing bodies to coordinate their PFD standards in 2019.

If you are not from either of those countries you can look on this wikipedia page to find your maritime governing body

Life Vest Comfort

Unfortunately I cannot tell you exactly what PFD is comfortable for you because everyone has different body types, genders etc. 

Things you should think about when choosing a PFD for comfort

  • How hot does my paddling area get?
  • How comfortable am I in the water?
  • Do you mind wearing something a but bulky while paddling?

If you prefer to have as little on you as humanly possible a belt PFD like the Onyx M-16 would probably be your best bet. Keep in mind though, everything you pull the string to inflate the bladder you will need to replace that CO2 canister!

I personally like wearing vest-type PFD’s. Mostly because I’ve worn them almost all my life so I’m used to them. However, I also like how low maintenance they are and that you just need to hang them up to dry. 

A special note for the ladies here. If you prefer vest PFDs I highly recommend investing a bit extra in a women’s PFD. Unisex PFDs do not take into account cupping or bust sizes. This means that if you are paddling for a long time there is a good chance there will be some chafing and irritation. 

Obviously, I’m not a woman (Don’t hear me roar?). However, I have heard from a few female paddling friends that the Astral Layla is a great pick for many different paddling purposes. 

How do you get a PFD to become comfortable? You size it of course!

Get Your PFD Sizing Correct

Below we will show you how to size your PFD based on it’s classification.

How to Size Type III PFD’s

Stand up paddle board Life Jackets and Life Vests are measured by your chest size. If you are not entirely sure how to do this, get a soft measuring tape and measure the circumference of your chest.  Keep that measurement in mind and look at the SUP life vests available that you are interested in.

Sizing can slightly differ from one SUP life jacket to another. So look at a sizing chart (remember your measurement?) and see where it fits in.

Common sizes like Large, Medium often run out of stock quickly, especially within the last few years so I would try to swoop one up sooner rather than later. Sometimes if there is low stock you can end up paying a premium for the size you need from 3rd party sellers, particularly on Amazon.

This happened to me FYI” 

Editors Note

When trying it on a paddle board life vest loosen up all the straps, place it on your shoulders, and zip up! From there tighten up all the straps until it fits on snug. I usually like to adjust from the waist up. 

To tell if it’s properly on tug the shoulder straps in an upwards motion, if the vest rides up to over your ears you need to tighten it up! If this is still an issue you may have to downgrade a size.  

How to Size Type V PFDs

Belt and vest automatic inflation PFDs are much easier to shop for as they are one size fits all. All you need to do is loosen the belt, step into it, place it on your waist and tighten the straps to ensure that it is comfortable. 

When paddling make sure that the PFD is placed below your tummy. This way if you fall off you just need to yank the strap and the automatic inflation bladder will be in front of you. 

To inflate or Not to Inflate?

Probably one of the most common questions I get is “should I get a vest of a belt inflation PFD?”. Usually, my answer is “it depends” which probably causes some annoyances. Below I will outline when to use a belt PFD and when to use a life vest for paddle boarding.

Pros of Type III (Life Vest) PFDs

  • Less maintenance
  • Better suited for people who are not as confident in the water
  • Originally more expensive but you are not spending money on CO2 canisters every time its uses
  • Better if you have personal items close by to you (many swim suits don’t have pockets)
  • Don’t have to do anything when you fall in the water
  • Can be used in more extreme water conditions, but you need to pick the proper one

Cons of Type III (Life Vest) PFDs

  • A good quality PFD can be well over $200
  • Can feel bulky when paddling
  • If you are in a hot climate can feel crowded and hot
  • Not great for tan lines

Pros of Type V Belt/ Vest Inflatable PFDs

  • The lightest weight safety device to wear
  • You can keep cool during those summer months
  • Some like the Onyx M-16 have cool designs
  • The Initial purchase is cheaper

Cons of Type V Belt/ Vest inflatable PFDs

  • Really don’t do much when you are knocked unconscious
  • Can’t be used for Kids 16 and under
  • Maintenance required
    • Need to check that the canister is engaged
    • Need to buy a new canister when you inflate it
  • Only limited to calm water conditions

Your Budget

Hey, I get it, not everyone needs to spend $200 + on a PFD. There are plenty of budget options, like the Onyx Movevent Torsion/ Movevent series or the M16 Belt PFD. That won’t cost you that pretty penny (who says that anymore? Inflation man!).

The good thing with stand-up paddleboarding is that it can very minimalist and so can your PFD as long as it meets your governing bodies requirements. 

When would you want to get a more expensive PFD?

Expensive PFDs are usually for more extreme instances like ocean paddling, white water, or fishing if you want lots of pockets to store gear and stash.

Many advanced paddlers who do these types of activities want to make sure that their gear is well made and up to par as more is on the line for them. 


Many USC and Canada Transport-rated PFDs have to meet stringent criteria. They are made and then go through quality control where they are monitored by the Coast Guard. Defects that happen are monitored by manufacturer station supervisors. To read about the full process How Products are Made have a very interesting post on this. 

Regulating Governing bodies require:

  • PFDs must be certain colors for visibility.
  • PFD material must pass through US Coast Guard quality control. Anything from the fabric to nylon stitched seams and threads. 
  • Must meet the ISO (International Organization Standardization 12402: measures buoyancy, performance of materials, this process is recognized by most countries.

Materials that are put into making a PFD range between manufacturers. Many of them are made of the following:

  • Nylon layers
  • Cordura fabric
  • Polyester
  • Approved foam

What Types of PFDs are best suited for paddle boards?

To quickly answer the question the best type of PFDs to go paddle boarding with are Type III Vest PFDs and Type V hybrid inflation models. These are lightweight, provide the appropriate buoyancy and provide the least resistance for movement. 

But we will do an overview of them all below

Type I PFDs

What is it?: Type I PFDs are made specifically for offshore use. So not really much use for a paddle boarder. They look similar to type III vest PFD except they have a flotation hood. This hood acts as a flotation device for your head in case you become unconscious.

Even if you did want one of these it’s nearly impossible to get your hands on them as they are reserved for commercial fishing, research, and government boats. They are not available to the public. 

Type II PFDs

What is it?: These PFDs you will find on boats. They are made of 2 panels and a headrest. Their use is to quickly throw to someone should they go overboard.

These can be used for paddle boarding theoretically but they are bulky and will most likely get in the way of your paddling stroke because they stick out.

Type III PFD’s

What is it?: Most PFDs you see people wearing or are available to the general public are these types. Type III PFDs come in a few varieties. Typically for paddle boarding, you want one that does not get in the way of your paddling stroke so ones that have as little sleeve as possible.

While these provide you with proper floatation you need you should not expect these to be survival vests should you become unconscious. Wear these when you are near lakes or coastal shorelines.

Testing out the Onyx Movevent Torsion PFD

PFD’s on our list that fall into this category are Onyx Movevent Torsion, Stohlquist Edge, Astral GreenJacket, Mustang Khimera and the women’s Astral Layla.

Type IV PFD’s

What is it?: These are like floatation pillows that you can grab onto should you go overboard. There are some automatic Type IV PFD’s that inflate into a pillow. These can be used for SUPs. In some Youtube videos I’ve seen manufacturers recommend these. Although I don’t see as much point to them. Should you become unconscious, these will do little for you. 

If you are a strong swimmer and want something lightweight to have with you these will do the trick.

Type V PFDs

What is it?: These can be classified into a few different categories. They can range from sailboard harnesses, deck suits or specialty paddling vests, or even float coats.

In this example, we will more be talking about Type V automatic inflation models.

These can range from belt packs or automatic inflation vests like the Onyx M-24 and Onyx M16. The difference between these and the type IV PFDs is that type V’s inflate into the shape of a vest you can put your head in. As opposed to the type IVs that inflates into a pillow.  Although this is still a bit of a gray area classification-wise. 


Below are some common questions for PFD use when paddle boarding. 

Should you wear a life jacket while Paddle Boarding?

Paddle Boarders need to wear a PFD because it drastically reduces your risk of drowning. In Fact, we compiled some data in the past 4 years from the US Coast Guard on Recreational Boating Statistics and found that 35 out of 39 deaths (94%) could have been prevented if the user wore a PFD.

YearPaddle Board DrowningsPaddle Board Total DeathsPercentage of Deaths by Drowning

While the numbers are pretty low, your survival rate will most likely increase by 94% should you wear a PFD while paddle boarding

What PFD do I Wear When on the Ocean

This depends on a few factors. If you are in calm bays and paddling close to shore any of the following on our list should do the trick. 

One of the most overlooked areas when it comes to ocean paddling is tide and currents. So while it’s important to wear a PFD while paddle boarding, it’s equally important to wear a SUP leash as well so that you are not separated from the board.

The only time when it’s ok not to wear a PFD is if you are SUP surfing. People who SUP surf are usually good swimmers, to begin with and need to dive under certain waves. PFDs get in the way of this skill. For SUP surfing you also need a straight SUP leash so that the board does not fling back at you. 

So What is the Best SUP Life Jacket?

In the end, I’m more than happy with my Onyx Movevent Torsion vest. What about for you? Well, you can go through some of our picks and see if any of those speak to you.

Or go through our buyer’s guide and use the same criteria that I used to find yourself a life vest that fits your body, needs, and lifestyle. Bon voyage and happy paddling!

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Photo of author
Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.

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