The Best SUP Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) – 2018 Edition
You need one of the best SUP personal floatation devices (PFD) before you ever hit the water. Make no mistake about it! Paddle boarding is fun, but safety should always be a priority.
Wearing a PFD while on your SUP ensures you stay safe on the water. Accidents happen on the open ocean. You could even have an issue at the lake or pond. You don’t want to risk it.
When finding a SUP personal floatation device, safety isn’t the only factor to consider. It’s also essential your new PFD fits well and is comfortable. You’ll be paddling around in the jacket. If it’s uncomfortable, you won’t enjoy your time on the board.
How to Find the Right SUP Life Vest For You
The debate between old-school paddle vets rages on. Some claim the new SUP PFDs are too high-tech and not comfortable enough. They lament for their old school life jackets.
We didn’t know what to expect until testing, as we liked to keep things old school, too. Luckily, there are a number of new, high-tech SUP life vests on the market sure to be comfortable while fitting securely and keeping you safe.
Here are a few things to look for when buying a SUP PFD:
- Flexibility: These life vests cannot be rigid. They’re not made for lounging in the water or cruising on a boat. SUP personal floatation devices need to be flexible. You’ll be moving when on a SUP. Your shoulders need space to move. You don’t want a PFD that gets caught up in your armpit all day. Here’s a test: turn your head left and right with the jacket on. If you can see the encased foam fabric, the jacket doesn’t have good flexibility.
- Comfort: Some of us get addicted to paddle boarding. This means spend 2-4, sometimes 7-8 hours on the water in one day. If you don’t have a comfortable life vest while paddling, you’ll eventually end up miserable on the water. The cut and sizing of a PFD must fit your body size and frame. If not, you won’t be comfortable. The materials are always secondary to the fit.
P.S: It’s tough to find the perfect fit online. You have two options. You can find the perfect model for your needs and order a few sizes. Try them on and then return the ones that didn’t work. Or you can stop into a paddle shop and try a few on. Find one that fits perfectly and then buy it online. You’ll save a ton buying online!
- Breathability: Going hand-in-hand with comfort, you need a jacket that offers breathability on those hot summer days. You need to feel like fresh air is hitting your skin as you paddle around.
- Buoyancy: Certain PFDs are all designed differently. Some have front floatation devices, and other put the foam in the back. For most people on a paddleboard, the SUP PFDs with thick back floatation foam work best. We have always preferred the back-loaded models.
- Easy to Use: You want a life jacket that’s easy to put on and simple to take off. If it’s darn near impossible to take the thing on and off, the likelihood of you using it is low. Typically, you’ll want to find a jacket that offers a front zipper, as they’re easier to operate.
- Color: Always get a bright SUP personal floatation device. The brighter the color, the easier you’d be to spot in an emergency situation. You can also consider the style points and grab one that matches your paddleboard, too.
The Best Sup Life Jackets – Reviews
There are a lot of life jackets on the market. Many a boat has dozens on board. However, you need a special kind of PFD when you’re paddling away. You need extra space and comfort to ensure you can paddle freely.
With this in mind, here are three of our favorite SUP life vests on the market after a little testing:
ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest
If you’re looking for a SUP PFD that won’t break the bank, then the ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest should be your first choice.
This ideal life jacket was made with all paddle sports in mind. You’ll find the model has great flexibility and is quite comfortable to paddle in.
Plus, this model only costs around $40-50 – which is an absolute steal when talking about paddleboard life jackets.
If you’re a casual paddleboard fanatic looking for a dedicated PFD to cruise the ocean or lake in, then this ONYX model is the ideal fit. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Astral Buoyancy YTV Life Jacket
While not at a bargain basement price, the Astral Buoyancy YTV Life Jacket offers a lot of value at $100 per vest. Exceptionally lightweight and stylish, many paddle pros enjoy cruising around in this clean PFD.
The model has a “Torso” lock design that ensures you stay safe while still having a lot of arm room. Plus, the life vest is crazy easy to take on and off. Made with “Rip Stop Nylon” – the jacket is lighter than others on the market.
Overall, I found this SUP life vest to be one of the best we tested. The model offers everything a paddleboard pro could ever want and more. While the $100 price point isn’t dirt cheap, you get a lot of value with this safety jacket.
MTI Adventurer Headwater High Buoyancy PFD Life Jacket
While we’d never recommend this life vest to casual paddlers, the MTI Adventurer Headwater High Buoyancy PFD Life Jacket is the best PDF while cruising in rough waters.
If you plan to paddle on a river or paddle surf in the ocean, then this SUP PDF may be right up your alley. For individuals looking to relax on a board, try a different model.
The MTI Adventurer Headwater High Buoyancy PFD Life Jacket features eight adjustment points to ensure the perfect, custom fit. If there’s one jacket you don’t need to try on before buying, it’s this one.
With low sides to ensure free flowing arm movement, this PFD is exceptionally comfortable while still secure. Sturdy nylon construction ensures this vest is long lasting. There are also reflective panels included to ensure great visibility while in the water.
At over $150, this SUP vest is pricey, but for rough waters – the MTI Adventurer Headwater High Buoyancy PFD Life Jacket is worth the investment.
Finding the Perfect Life Vest While Paddle Boarding
While we all have a budget, you need to be more concerned with comfort, flexibility, and buoyancy when buying on of these life vests. The water can be a dangerous place, and a PFD can save your life.
After testing, we believe these to be the best SUP life jackets on the market. Whether you’re looking for the best jacket out there or a quality product at a reasonable price, you’ll find the right jacket for you through the recommendations above.