|In my editorial for our April 2007 issue I provided a list of the gear that I keep with me in my PFD. We asked a few of our adventuresome contributors what they carried on their PFDs and the answers offered a wide range of gear. Surprisingly some of the kayakers paddling in the most challenging regions carried the least gear. Since communications and signaling devices aren’t much good if there is no one to receive or observe, they aren’t of much use in remote areas.
If you have comments about the gear mentioned here or if you’d like to share your PFD kit with other readers, please visit the SK Online Forum.
Freya Hoffmeister, Husum, Germany. Peak UK PFD (because it was black).
Greenland-style instructor and winner of the Arctic Sea Kayak Marathon. Expedition along the south shore of Newfoundland, solo circumnavigation of the Isle of Man in a record 14 hours, second place in Sea Challenge Fyn
Large back pocket:
1-liter hydration system
Large front pocket:
2-3 energy bars
1 signal flare
1 smoke flare
Sunscreen and lip protection
Waterproof digital camera (Olympus 725 SW)
Attached to the front:
My watch with compass and barometer
Right shoulder strap:
Stan Chladek, Palm PFD.
1965 ICF Wildwater World Champion (mixed C-2 with wife Ema), founder of Great River Outfitters. Expeditions to Antarctica, Easter Island, Aleutian islands.
While paddling in remote areas, I do not carry any flares, strobe lights, radio, etc in my PFD— nobody would notice the emergency signals. We carry satellite phones, EPIRB and VHF radio but they are too bulky to put into the PFDs pockets so we pack them in deck bags or in the day hatch.
Only "emergency" equipment I carry in the back pocket of my PFD is:
Fuzzy rubber hood
Brian Day, Madison, WI. Lotus P-Vest with a homemade add-on back pocket.
BCU Level 3 sea kayak coach. Expedition to Aleutian Islands.
Single large central front pocket:
Small Orienteering Compass
Small Nalgene Vial w/ Ibuprofen
Plastic grease pencil
Folding rescue knife
6'x3' plastic bivy bag
Boat repair kit with precut Denzo plumber's tape, piece of plastic sheet, and extra plastic bags
Bailout kit with magnesium fire starter, butane lighter, 2 candle stubs, water treatment tabs or drops, spare AA batteries, Platypus hydration bladder and drinking tube
Waist mounted tow belt
If I'm paddling after dark, I'll wear a headlamp tethered to the PFD. In my day hatch I keep a dry bag containing a warm hat, waterproof headlamp, CPR mask and gloves, basic first aid kit, storm cag and VHF radio.
Brandon and Heather Nelson, Bellingham, WA. Kokatat ProFit PFDs
Adventure racers. Circumnavigation of Lake Baikal, winners of Lake Michigan Challenge, Yukon River quest wins (female solo, mixed double, men’s double).
This list is what we each carry on and in our PFDs when we are surf skiing or fast-packing, and doing anything except short-course racing.
Accessory hydration backpack (with hydration bladder removed)
Top dry bag:
A VHF radio with a laminated instruction card
Bottom dry bag:
Left front pocket:
Compass with an attached signal mirror
Ziploc bag with two Orion Skyblazer flares
Right front pocket:
Webbed neoprene gloves (an emergency spare paddle alternative – our surf skis have no system to secure a spare paddle)
A tube of lip balm and a small bottle of sunscreen
Upper left lash-tab:
FOX 40 whistle on a tether
A bite valve that runs to a hydration bladder inside the boat, set up for hands-free drinking
Also on our person, but not on our PFDs:
A waist belt towline
For the surf skis—an ankle leash.
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