Personal Flotation Device Options for Stand Up Paddleboarders

Safety should always be a top priority when heading out on the water. Discover what type of personal flotation device you should wear.

April 13, 2017

Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are an essential for every boarder. They are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for water activities, like stand up paddleboarding. In fact, in most places, it’s now required by law to wear a PFD when on your paddleboard.

There are two popular types of PFDs from which to choose: life vests and inflatables.


These are built with buoyant foam panels that are designed to keep you afloat no matter what. They come in pullover, side-entry and zipper-up-front styles. Your life vest should fit snuggly, but have wider arm openings so you have a full range of motion when paddling.


This PFD option is lightweight and made with a CO2 cartridge. When you pull its tag, the vest inflates and you can then wear it around your neck.

“I really like the inflatable because when you wear it, it feels like you’ve got nothing on,” Senior American Canoe Association SUP Instructor Seth Bloomgarden says. “It’s also highly portable — I can throw it in my gear bag when I go paddling all over the world.”

No matter what your experience level and which PFD you decide is best for you, make sure to wear it during your next stand up paddleboard excursion. You never know what you will experience on the water.