Do I Need A Life Jacket To Kayak

Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Ecorf

Accidents are inevitable. They can happen even when you’re on your guard. That is why many paddlers are advised to be cautious at all times, by using a life jacket to remain safe. That is so because boating accidents have happened in the past, and the figure would continue to increase in the coming months.

For instance, in the year 2013, the Coast Guard Recreational Statistics hinted that over 560 boating accidents occurred in that year. It posited that paddlers should sit up and take notice because over 77% of the victims of the accidents drowned. It was then discovered that 84% of the drowned didn’t have a life jacket on them. So, are you still among those paddlers that ask, “do I need a life jacket to kayak?”

The Role of a Life Jacket in a Kayak

All canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards are considered “vessels” by the United States Coast Guard (USGC). Therefore, they’re subject to the specific safety regulations, of which having a life jacket is one of them. Consequently, it’s essential to have one in your kayak, even though you may not have “seen any reason” to have it in the first place.


Besides having it, you must ensure that it is appropriately secured. Tying it to your kayak is akin to wearing a seat belt when an accident is about to happen. So, you must wear your life jacket at all times when paddling because that helps to enhance your survivability when an accident occurs.

Haven looked at the snippets of the need to have a life jacket on your vessel, let’s now move into details of the roles played by the vest, especially when out on the water.

The Importance of Having a Life Jacket

Let’s assume that you’re great at swimming. You could come out tops at the Olympics if you gave it a shot. So, why would you need a life jacket when you can easily swim away in the event of a mishap? The details below would help you discover the importance of having a life jacket anytime you’re paddling.

  • Accidents Can Happen Without Notice

The term “accident” already explained itself. It’s something you can’t predict. But, it’s something you should be ready for at all times. One of the ways to be prepared for accidents is by having a life jacket. With that, your chances of surviving would be high, as you can take swift moves to safety.

Do I Need a Life Jacket to Kayak

  • Life Jackets Can Orientate You

Can you picture scenery where you just had a boating accident and found yourself gasping for air below the water? How can you pull yourself out of that lousy state without help? Here comes another need for the life jacket.

It is designed to keep you oriented while you make quick moves to get ashore. Ideally, you tend to lose your sense of direction when you fall out of a kayak or raft. In that instance, your life jacket gives you the chance to breathe. Besides, it is designed to keep your head above the surface/water level. With that, you would be able to turn on your back in the water while making your way to safety.

  • Life Jackets are for Everyone

You may still be having enough confidence in your swimming ability to think that you don’t need a life jacket. While your confidence in your swimming prowess shouldn’t be undermined, it’s also essential that you realize that life jackets are not just for amateurs or kids.’

On the contrary, it’s versatile – it’s for everyone. So, start shopping for the right size that suits you.

Do I Need a Life Jacket to Kayak

  •  Life Jackets Regulate Your Body Temperature

Do you realize that it is cold out there? Hasn’t it occurred to you that you may be at the risk of hypothermia? Once you’ve realized that, then you would start appreciating the functions of a life jacket.

In this instance, it plays a crucial role in regulating your body temperature. It does that because of the heavily built-in insulation properties that help to suppress cold. Also, it wraps around your body’s core, which helps to keep you warm throughout your paddling.

  • Life Jackets Increase Your Chances of Survival

There’s no denying that the chances of survival in boating accidents are higher for kayakers that have life jackets on them. Although the jackets aren’t a guarantee (danger still exists for people using life jackets), it has been affirmed that wearing one increases your survivability.

How do I Get A Life Jacket?

Now that you’ve seen the need for a life jacket, you may want to get one. The rule of thumb is to consider specific factors that would help you make an informed decision. Find some of the tips below:

  • Choose the Right Type For Your Activities

What is your intent for kayaking? Do you intend fishing or solely for recreation boating? The type of kayaking activity determines the kind of life jacket you should get.

For instance, vest-type life jackets are better for recreational boating. On the other hand, you should consider getting the offshore life jacket if you intend paddling in rough water.


  • USGC Compliance

The United States Coast Guard (USGC) is famous for the regulation of the maritime industry, especially activities that have to do with boating. It also has different categories of life jackets that are grouped into Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV. Each of these is dedicated to being used in different kinds of vessels and different age groups. So, look them up and choose the best life jacket that suits your kayaking needs.

  • Choose the Right Fitting Life Jacket

Having an incompatible or loose-ended life jacket is as good as having none. Therefore, you must ensure that the one you choose fits your body type.

You can run different kinds of tests to ascertain the compatibility. For instance, you can try the life jacket in shallow water before taking it out for other kayaking activities. Also, you may ask a friend to pull up on the jacket, holding the tops of the arm openings. The test can also be run by checking the manufacturer’s label for size and weight guidelines. You can also consider fastening the life jacket properly, then hold your arms straight over your head.

You Need a Life Jacket to Kayak

Haven considered the importance of having a life jacket; you can now see that it is necessary equipment for your kayaking activity. Therefore, you may want to check with the top manufacturers to choose the right size for your next kayaking trip.

Share this post and let us know if you have any other thoughts. Happy kayaking with your new life jacket!