What's the difference between a life jacket and a buoyancy aid? Both are PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices), but a life jacket will turn an unconscious swimmer on their back to keep their mouth and nose out of the water. The downside is that a life jacket makes it much harder for a conscious swimmer to swim on their front. A buoyancy aid will not turn the wearer face up, but its primary purpose is to support a conscious swimmer and make it easy for the wearer to swim in a normal and powerful fashion when required (like when you've really got to make that eddy!). They also provide some welcome body armour on certain trips!
We do stock a range of life jackets, which we recommend for use by people who may have trouble swimming. They are also suitable for sailing, and we have models for children and babies.
For those of you who would like to take your four legged friends out on the water, check out our range of Pet Buoyancy Aids.
This is answered by the type of paddling that you are doing, features you are looking for, and budget.
Some buoyancy aids come with a zip down the front, while others are pulled on over the head. Features to look for include pockets, knife-lash tabs, and adjustment straps for a perfect fit. More advanced paddlers will also want to consider chest harnesses.
For newcomers to the sport, who want a basic entry level buoyancy aid with a zip front for easy entry and release, we suggest looking at the Recreation category.
Whitewater paddlers tend to be split between competition and whitewater BA's, with the competition vests being streamlined and having a high degree of freedom of movement, but with little in the way of frills such as pockets and harnesses, freestyle kayakers will appreciate this unrestricted freedom, but there's no space for chocolate; while whitewater PFDs tend to be thicker to protect the user, and pockets to store rescue paraphernalia such as slings and carabiners. All these tend to be Vest style over the head entry, meaning less can go wrong in an emergency. Having said that, you can find front opening river BA's, generally designed with no Zips, and which can be easier to put on with rear entry drysuits.
For polo players we have the Peak UK Polo Vest, which we can get made to order in your team colours.
If you are looking for buoyancy aids for outdoor centre or group work we have a range of Centre Buoyancy Aids. Centre Spec buoyancy aids need to be durable and easy to adjust. They all have clean simple lines, do not offer options of pockets and also come in bright colours for easy recognition and safety.
The Palm Meander PFD, a highly versatile buoyancy aid that is ideal for canoeing, kayaking and sit on top paddling. It’s also perfect for stand up paddle boarding. The Meander PFD is easy to get on and off due to the front access zip, whilst the adjustable shoulders, side straps and waist belt offer a snug and secure fit. The small check pocket is ideal for a small key pouch.