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PFDs On Our River Trips

Commonly known as a “life jacket,” a PFD is a Personal Flotation Device. Everyone is required to wear one at all times while floating on the river.

Our PFDs all have a unique name or illustration on the back, so you can tell yours apart from the rest on the trip.

What type of PFD do you provide?

We provide a rafting specific PFD with proper flotation for untrained whitewater swimmers. The amount of floatation in a PFD affects two major things, how high you float in the water, and how fast you come to the surface if you go underwater. The more flotation, the faster you pop-up! Here are the two sizes of PDFs we bring for our rafting guests.

Adult Universal PFD

  • User Weight: 90+ lbs
  • User Chest Size: 30″-58″
  • Flotation: 25.1 lbs

Some body types might find that adding leg loops will help your PFD fit better, especially if you need to get pulled back into the raft.

Youth PFD

  • User Weight: 50-90 lbs
  • User Chest Size: 24-29″
  • Flotation: 15.5 lbs

If you think your kid is to small to fit in a youth PFD, please let the office know ahead of time.

Wearing your PFD and swimming at camp is a fun way to stay cool!

Can I bring my PFD from home to wear on the trip?

Possibly. Since PFDs are such an important piece of safety gear for river trips, we have come up with these guidelines for allowing someone to use a PFD other than the ones we provide.

  • Needs to be a whitewater-specific PFD in new or great condition
  • If you weigh over 200 lbs, PFD needs to have at least 22 lbs of flotation
  • If you’re an adult and want to paddle a ducky, PFD needs to have at least 22 lbs of flotation
  • No mesh-back PFDS designed to be used with kayaks

Even if you pass all the above criteria, our guides do have full discretion to have you wear one of our PFDs for any reason.

Our PFDs are great for paddling in a ducky

Unfortunately most of the PFDs on the market right now only have the mininmu 16.5 lbs of flotation which may not be appropriate. If you are looking to purchase a PFD with 22+ lbs of flotation, NRS Big Water Guide PFD and the Astral Indus PFD are both good options.

Does it matter what “type” of PFD is?

All PFDs sold in the US are approved by the US Coast Guard, and are categorized into five types (I, II, III, IV, or V).  Both Type III and Type V are appropriate for our trips if they are new and have appropriate floatation. A Type V PFD is similar to a Type III PFD but has some sort of modification.

If you have any additional questions about PFDs on our trips, please give us a call!


Originally Published: | Updated on | Categorized under: River Equipment

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Courtney Sweeney

After a good decade running rivers and chasing snow out west, Courtney landed in Baltimore. Odds are you’ll chat with her if you call the NWRC office, she loves using her river knowledge to make awesome trips happen. When not on the phone, you can find her exploring the east coast rivers or dominating at an adult recreational volleyball league.