Gear Guy

What's the best PFD for a canoe trip?

I'm planning a late spring or early summer canoe trip in southern Ontario and I need a new personal flotation device. The trip involves several portages per day and will last a week, so my new PFD needs to be light and comfortable. What should I get?

What's the best PFD for a canoe trip?

Mustang Survival Deluxe Inflatable PFD Photo: Courtesy of Mustang Survival

You might also consider an inflatable PFD. The advantage here is a lack of bulk—they fit much more like fishing vests than a traditional PFDs. Some models are “automatic," meaning they’ll inflate when exposed to water. Of course, for multiple-portage trips when you're in and out of the water voluntarily, that may not be a good thing. In that case, a model with a ripcord-like inflation initiator would work nicely. A good example is Mustang Survival's Deluxe Inflatable PFD ($210), which feels more like a rolled-up towel across your shoulders than a life jacket. True, you need to be confident that you'll be in a position to pull the cord when you need to, but when canoeing, chances are you’ll be okay.

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