aNsweRS to Your Questions
What are the differences between a “touring” PFD and a “whitewater”
There are dozens of choices when it comes to picking your life jacket.
Many models will work fine for either type of boating, but some features
work better for each type. Let’s start by defining some terms.
Most adults require only 7-12 pounds of additional flotation to keep their
heads above water. The US Coast Guard requires a minimum of 15.5 pounds
of flotation in adult PFDs. Touring boaters may be in a kayak or canoe
and will generally be on relatively calm water or mild rapids. Whitewater
boaters can be in a canoe, kayak or raft/cataraft and are boating on moving
water with Class II-V rapids.
Touring boaters are often in waters shared by power boaters. Features
like reflective tape and an extra attachment point for a signal strobe
light are important items. High seat backs in some boats make a mesh back
or reduced foam thickness in the lower back of the PFD more comfortable.
For whitewater boaters, the amount of flotation in the jacket is important.
Aerated whitewater is less buoyant than calm water; increased flotation
floats you higher and pops you up to the surface faster. Flotation panels
or shielding all around the torso provide impact protection. A front lash
tab for securing a rescue knife is a good safety feature.
What’s the safest PFD? It’s the PFD you’re wearing!
Never go boating without yours. Wearing it at all times while boating
is the best policy. Boat Safe!