Best PFD for Stand Up Paddle Board

A personal flotation device in an important piece of equipment to have when you are paddle boarding. Even if you are an excellent swimmer you will want a good life jacket just in case of an emergency. In many places PFDs are considered water vessels and it is required by law to wear a life jacket. Here will look at some of our top recommendations for SUP PFDs.

Best PFD for SUP

  1. Onyx Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket (PFD)
  2. Onyx Outdoor Movevent Torsion Vest
  3. NRS Ninja PFD
  4. Stohlquist Women’s Escape PFD
  5. Stearns 16 Gram Manual Belt Pack

1. Onyx Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket (PFD)

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Onyx
Type: Type V with Type III Performance

Our top pick is the Onyx Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket. Many paddlers prefer the belt style PFDs because they allow a full range of motion by having unrestricted movement of the upper torso.  And this is exactly why this is our top pick. The 1″ belt fits extremely comfortably. The best thing about this PFD is that it is not bulky like traditional life jackets. If you’re the type of person that likes to do yoga out on the water, this one is excellent by providing you with the movement you need. This one is also pretty budget-friendly too

 

Pros
  • Lightweight comfortable belt
  • Budget-friendly
  • Allows unrestricted movement
Cons
  • This one does not work for children under the age of 16/under 80lbs

 

2. Onyx Outdoor Movevent Torsion Vest

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Onyx
Type: Type V with Type III Performance

The next spot on our list goes to the Onyx Outdoor Movevent Torsion Vest. This vest is good because you can use it not just for stand up paddling but also for kayaking or canoeing as well. The vest features a foamed inner back section and neoprene shoulder pads for added comfort. It is made from durable nylon fabric and features reflective material for visibility. With this PFD you also get zippered pockets with mesh drainage which is great if you need to store things. This one also includes an emergency whistle just in case, which is a nice feature. Overall this is a pretty solid vest that is comfortable and gets the job done. The best thing is the versatility. You can comfortably wear this one for a wide variety of outdoor water activities without having to buy a new one.

 

Pros
  • Comfortable inner back padding and shoulder adjustments
  • Reflective material
  • Zippered pockets
Cons
  • Some may prefer the belt style PFD for paddling

 

3. NRS Ninja PFD

 

Product Features

Brand Name: NRS
Type: Type III

The NRS Ninja is our number three spot. This flotation device provides up to 16.5 pounds of flotation. It features a pullover side entry and has four side adjustments and two shoulder adjustments so you can easily secure it on any body type. The vest features a front mesh pocket and lash tab so you can store a PFD knife. The design of this PFD is made so it won’t get in the way of paddling or swimming. It is made to allow unrestricted movement of the torso. Overall this is a pretty great PFD if you prefer the vest style ones.

 

Pros
  • Comfortable fit
  • Includes lash tab for knife
  • Unrestricted upper torso movement
Cons
  • This one is a little bit expensive compared to other options

 

4. Stohlquist Women’s Escape PFD

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Stohlquist
Type: Type III

If you’re shopping for a great PFD designed specifically for women you may need to check out the Stohlquist Women’s Escape PFD. This is a type III PFD that provides about 15lbs of buoyancy. It is designed to comfortably fit the curves of women. You can easily adjust this one for a secure fit on anyone with its shoulder and side adjustments. This one also has zipper pockets to store items in. Overall this is an excellent women’s PFD if you like the vest style jackets. It’s affordable and gets the job done. The only concern is that it might be a little bulkier than some people like.

 

Pros
  • Designed to comfortably fit women
  • Side and shoulder adjustments for a custom comfortable fit
  • Zippered pockets
Cons
  • May be a little bit bulkier than some people like

 

5. Stearns 16 Gram Manual Belt Pack

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Stearns
Type: Type III

The final spot on the list goes to the Stearns 16 Gram Manual Belt Pack. This one is a compact belt style PFD that is great for paddling. The real selling point is the belt style allows free movement of the upper torso while providing you with the safety you need. If you’re in danger you simply pull the cord and the device inflates for your protection. This one is a one size fits all PFD designed for anyone over 80lbs. If you like the belt style PFD’s this one is something you will definitely want to consider.

 

Pros
  • Comfortable unrestricted movement
  • Compact design
Cons
  • Not meant for all water activities. Can be used for paddling but for kayaking you may need a vest

 

SUP PFD Buying Guide

When you’re shopping for a comfortable PFD for paddle boarding there are a few things you may want to consider

  1. PFD Style
  2. Adjustments
  3. Pockets

How to Choose a SUP PFD

1. PFD Style

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to buy a belt style PFD or a vest style one. Belt style PFDs are great because they allow unrestricted movement of the upper torso. They are typically low profile, comfortable, and allow you to paddle much easier. Especially if you plan to do yoga on your paddle board, a belt style PFD will definitely allow you a full range of motion. Vest style PFDs are a little bulkier but they are great because they are versatile. You can use the same PFD for kayaking, canoeing, boating, rafting, and more. This is good because you may only want to buy one PFD to use for everything.

2. Adjustments

If you’re buying a PFD vest we always recommend something with a good number of side and shoulder adjustments. Everybody is shaped differently, so a PFD that has these adjustments makes for a comfortable and secure fit for anyone.

3. Pockets

Lastly, you may consider shopping for a flotation device that has pockets. If you’re planning on being out on the water for hours, you may want to carry things like small snacks with you, which is a great use for side pockets.

Also, check out our rafting PFD guide.