This article was orginally written for the Surfski School website: https://surfskischool.co.za/four-features-of-a-pfd/
In the last decade the US Coast Guard reported a sharp increase in paddling related deaths as a result of paddlers not wearing their lifejackets, or PFD’s. It has become more important than ever to don your jacket before taking to the water.
But what do you do if your Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is holding you back from giving your best performance? In this article I break down what four important features of a PFD one should look for when trying to find the “perfect lifejacket”.
Whether you are engaged in professional or recreational water activities, here are my “Four Fs” of PFDs – what to look for in a lifejacket.
No surprises here. You need to know that the device will actually do what is intended – and that is, keep you safely afloat. The only way to be certain is by means of objective testing and standards supplied by the International Standards Regulations (I.S.O) or the Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.)
Check the label. Is it produced in accordance with these internationally recognised standards? If not, back away. Quickly.
If you are competing in tough conditions or racing long distances, comfort is not a nice-to-have; it is a necessity. “Even the most comfortable lifejacket will feel like chainmail after three hours in rough waters, so if you are not comfortable to begin with, you stand no chance!”.
“In addition – and aside from posing a safety hazard – there is nothing more irritating than a poor-fitting lifejacket that ends up around your neck when you are in the water.”
Make sure it fits you perfectly, and feels comfortable.
There are different lifejackets or PFDs for different water activities. Don’t buy a waterski lifejacket to go kayaking, or an entry-level buoyancy aid to paddle the Dusi River. Lifejackets are designed to do more than just keep you afloat; they are built to give you the best performance in your chosen activity. Be very clear with what type of paddling you will be doing.
Finally, modern PFDs now come with a number of features that can make your time on the water more comfortable, as well as keep you safe. For example, some PFD’s – such as the Mocke PFD of course – feature a spot for a hydration bladder, which comes in handy during times of intense physical exertion, as well as for a cellphone dry bag. This is not primarily intended for you to take action selfies, but rather to let your loved ones know your whereabouts, if you are in danger, or going to be late for dinner.
Your equipment should never detract from your experience on the water. If you are tempted to forego your lifejacket for comfort or performance reasons – it means you are in the wrong PFD.
Mocke is a premium paddling brand founded and managed by Surfski World Champion and athlete Dawid Mocke. The brand encompasses a range of premium apparel (sold online & via retailers) as well as a surfski school.