What PFDs Can and Can't Do In Cold Water

Note: This information on PFDs refers to the USCG Type III recreational style used by the vast majority of paddlers.

Recreational PFDs(USCG Type III)

Misleading Messages about PFD Use and Cold Water Safety

PFDs Can Do This:

PFDs Can't Do This: A Very Sobering BoatUS Report
BoatUS Foundation Findings #30 tested Inflatable PFDs and compared them to USCG Type IIIs.

The type III inherently buoyant vest-style life jacket proved the real eye-opener for our test crew who had to work hard treading water to keep their faces clear of the waves when using this device. When another test was conducted simulating an unconscious victim, those wearing the Type III inherently buoyant devices repeatedly sank well beneath the surface as the waves rolled over them.

They also noted that the “nose-to-water” distance for inherently buoyant Type IIIs was 3 inches as opposed to five inches for inflatables. The Inflatable type III is required to have 9 pounds of additional floatation. (15.5 lbs vs 20.5 lbs)

View the BoatUs PFD report here