Do You Often Go Kayaking?

If so, you need to determine the gear which you need to carry. The storage space in the kayak is limited. You have to pick the gear to carry carefully.


One question you will often come across is, do I need a life vest to kayak?


Whether you're going for kayaking in the sea, lake or still planning your kayak trip, this is a question which you will often encounter.


We will today answer this question in greater detail. Not only that, we will highlight what the law states regarding the same. Once you go through the article below, you will know the answer to this question without any confusion.


Do I Need a Life Vest to Kayak?

Yes, you need a life vest when you're going for a kayaking trip. The law also states the same. The general boating regulations state the same.



Unpowered boats require a life vest; powered ones require life vests for occupants and throwable floatation devices. Without sticking to these rules, boats are not permitted to enter the water.

You might be thinking, why is a life vest required while kayaking?


There are quite a few reasons for this. I will highlight the same below.


Why Is A Life Vest Required?

There are numerous reasons why you require a life vest while kayaking. Go through the reasons below to understand the need for the same.


  1. To Avoid Cold Water Shock

Generally, the temperature of the water body is on the lower side when you're going kayaking. In that case, if you fall into the water, you might experience a shock on experiencing the cold water.


In that case, it becomes difficult for you to gain control of your senses. Not only that, cold water shock can be fatal as well.


When you experience cold water suddenly, it becomes difficult for you to stay afloat. Moreover, with time, it becomes even more difficult to stay above the water. Due to cold water, your body starts to lose heat rapidly.


On the other hand, when you have a life vest on, you will not have to worry about staying afloat. Even if you have to be in the water for a comparatively longer period, the life vest will help you with the same. That is why you can avoid the fatal outcome since the life vest will keep you afloat.

Your body will still lose heat but only due to the water temperature. You will not lose excessive heat while trying to stay afloat. It is one of the primary reasons why according to the law as well, you need to have a life vest while kayaking.


  1. Prevent Swimming Exhaustion

How much time can you swim to keep yourself afloat?


Chances are, consistently, you can do so for 20 to 30 minutes. After that, exhaustion will set in. Especially when you factor in the cold wind and water, the duration can reduce drastically.


When you suffer from exhaustion, you will not be able to stay above water. In that case, a person can drown.


When you have a life vest around you, you will not have to worry about the same. You will not have to expend any of your energy trying to stay afloat. Therefore, the probability of drowning is almost nil.


  1. Aid Floating

When you're going kayaking in fast-moving rivers, even with proper swimming skills, it can become challenging to stay afloat.


Not only that, when you're moving your limbs to stay afloat, they might get stuck in plants or underwater crevices as well.


In that case, even if you know how to swim, it will become difficult for you to stay afloat.


On the other hand, when you have a life vest around you, you do not have to worry about any such issue. You will stay afloat irrespective of the water conditions or what is underneath the water.


There are numerous reasons to use a life vest while kayaking. A life vest is also mandated by law.


The next time you're going on a kayaking trip, keep these few reasons in mind.


Wondering which type of life vest is proper for kayaking?


Worry not!


We will help you with the same below.


How to Choose the Right Life Vest for Kayaking?

Going with any life vest for kayaking is not a good idea. If it is of substandard quality, it will not serve you well.


Below, we will highlight the characteristics of the life vest which you should buy. Once your life vest conforms to these characteristics, you can be confident that you're going with the best one.


  1. US Coast Guard Approved

The 1st thing you need to look at is the Coast Guard approval rating of the life jacket. It should be Coast Guard approved type III, or Coast Guard approved type V. In most cases, it is pretty easy for you to get US Coast Guard approved Type III vest. Type V life vests are usually rescue jackets or pullover jackets.

Not every life vest receives a Coast Guard approval rating. Many of them are downright rejected. It means that when you're opting for a US Coast Guard-approved life vest, you're going with a reliable option.


When you're buying the life vest for kayaking, make sure that it is at least US Coast Guard Approved Type III.


  1. Allows Mobility

Another requirement of the jacket is that it should allow you to move your arms and upper body. Consequently, you can move in the water and reach the shore.


While the life vest will keep you afloat but in case you do not have help, you will have to reach the shore yourself. You can do so only when you can move your upper body and arms. That is why you should use a life vest that provides you with proper mobility.


Additionally, you have to prefer one which consists of warming pockets. When you store warming pouches in them, it becomes easier for you to stay warm in the water.


When that is the case, you can easily reach the shore and also remain warm in the water. That will certainly provide you with more time when you're in the water.


  1. Proper Fit

While buying a life vest, it is necessary to purchase one which is a proper fit.


The good news is that most life vests come along with adjustable buckles and straps. It means that you can customize it according to your requirement.


You have to make sure that the customization ranges within your body fit.


Only when the life vest can hug your body will it become easier for you to stay afloat. That will also mean that you can move around easily.


Rather than looking at the adjustable straps and buckles, it is good to look at the entire size range of the life vest. Only when you look at the same can you decide whether it is suitable for you or not.


  1. Proper Condition

When you're buying a new life vest, you will not face this problem. It will be in perfect condition.


However, in most cases, life vests are stored for an extended period. That is because kayaking trips are not that frequent.


Before going on a kayaking trip, you have to check the condition of the life vest. If it is worn out or torn, it is a good idea to buy a new one.


You have to inspect the life vest condition and, after that, embark on a kayaking trip.


  1. Storage Pockets

In addition to pockets for hand warmers, it is a good idea to choose a life vest that consists of additional pockets.


The reason for the same is that you can easily carry the radio, knife, and other such gear in the additional pockets.


Not only that, you can carry some light as well.


When you're stranded far away, such light sources and communication devices can undoubtedly come to your rescue. You can call for help using them.


When you fall in the water, you will not have the chance to get these devices from your kayak. However, if they are stored in your life vest, you will have access to them right away. Consequently, getting help becomes relatively easy.


The more the number of pockets that are available in your life vest, the better it is.


This is another parameter you have to take into account while buying a life vest.


Once you compare the different life vests on these few parameters, it becomes easier for you to choose the best one.


So, yes, a life vest is a necessity when you go kayaking. It is mandated by law as well. Before you start searching for a life vest, you can also go through our guide above. Once you go through the guide above, comparing the various options and choosing the right life vest becomes easy for you. It is time to make your kayaking trips safe by carrying a life vest with you.


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