Watch this short video to learn more about what you need to know before investing in your very own PFD.
Tumalo Creek has an excellent selection of PFDs or Personal Flotation Devices for every size and budget. Also known as lifejackets or life vests, these are an essential piece of gear that will give you more buoyancy to help you stay afloat if you should happen to go for a swim. In Oregon, having a PFD in a craft 10 feet or longer is required by law, and we highly recommend wearing it at all times while you’re out on the water.
For adults the size of the PFD is based on chest size, not on weight, whereas for children, weight is the deciding factor.
As TC’s manager John Hise says, the most important questions to ask yourself when buying a PFD is “Is it comfortable?” and “Will I want to wear it?” Some of our higher-end brands like Astral Buoyancy put a lot of effort into the aesthetic of their coats for this very reason.
The fit should be snug while allowing you to move freely without chafe while paddling. Take a few practice strokes while sitting on the floor and walk around the shop swinging your arms around with your potential PFD. This will give you the best idea of how it will feel out on the water. Make sure all straps are tight and then have someone pull up the vest at the shoulders. Finally when you are in the water, make sure the PFD does not go over your head or ride up; if it does this, it might be too big or the straps might not be tight enough.
Are there tabs to attach a knife, whistle or strobe light? Are there pockets to warm your hands or store your goodies? Is the jacket brightly colored or does it have reflective tape for visibility? If you plan to fish, are there fishing-specific features? Is there enough ventilation?
It is always a good idea to get your dog a PFD if you are going to spend any time at all with them out on the water. Even for dogs that love to swim, this is just a little added insurance that they won’t get tired or panic (especially in whitewater!) We’re proud to carry a full range of sizes from our neighbors over at RuffWear, a Bend-based company whose products are sold all over the world.
While there are five official types of PFDs and many sub catagories in between, you’ll likely only be looking for a Type III, which is a floatation aid suitable for paddlers where there is a quick rescue available. We also sell Type Vs, which are for special-use activities… meaning they were designed specifically for long-distance paddling or whitewater rescue for instance. A new category of inflatable PFDs have emerged, which are much less bulky and will inflate when a chord is pulled. These are very popular in the “fanny pack” style with stand up paddle boarders.
PFDs are made out of a variety of materials, some of which are more environmentally friendly then others.
Gaia: This is made from an organic nitrile compound. Its low density reduces weight without performance loss.
Kapok: Kapok comes from the puffy fiber that surrounds the seeds of the kapok tree. It is a resilient, light and buoyant material and does not loose buoyancy over time. It is the most environmentally friendly choice, and you can even compost the material when its time to retire your jacket.
PVC: This is the most common material. Polyvinyl chloride is inexpensive, durable and strong.