Personal Flotation Device (PFD) Fit

March 1, 2010

Fit is paramount when selecting a PFD. Consider these other features next:

  • Bright colors, especially orange and red, make you more visible in the water.
  • Ventilated mesh panels on the back and sides make hot-weather boating more pleasant.
  • Neoprene linings are more comfortable against skin, especially around the shoulders and neck.
  • Lots of pockets are nice for lip balm, sunscreen, snacks, knife, survival kit, camera, sunglasses, etc.
  • Inexpensive PFDs use eco-unfriendly PVC for buoyancy. Look instead for models with Gaia foam or other nontoxic alternatives.
  • Some PFDs use kapok, a buoyant, waterresistant natural fiber that can be composted when the PFD is retired.
(Photograph by iStock.)

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.