When looking at our page regarding the 5 essentials for your first kayaking trip, you will undoubtedly have noticed that a life jacket was amongst the must have items. You are not alone if you are wondering whether life jackets are really essential or not though, as many people seem to think they are not essential but for very baffling reasons.
We are not judging you if you have ever used any of the following reasons/excuses for not using a life jacket while kayaking or if they would be the reasons for not using one.
- I am a really good swimmer and have been swimming since a very young age
- I will only be in a small lake and if something happened I’d swim to the shore
- I will keep a jacket stored on the boat and will use it if the boat capsizes
What we think is important for you to consider if any of the above are reasons you give for not wearing life jackets is that of the 70% of boating accidents that end fatally were drownings, around 85% of those involved people who were not wearing life jackets. As hard as it may be for some reading this to believe but in combination with experience, knowledge and preparedness; a life jacket is the only line of defence you have and need to prevent drowning. Regardless of how strong a swimmer you are, you can’t fight treacherously cold or choppy waters.
Many people can feel a false sense of security in a place where they are paddling and think things like “I’ll just swim over to the shore” or “I’ll hold tightly on to my kayak.” Although they may appear to be sound arguments, they are delusional at best. Even when paddling in the smallest ponds and most protected lakes there is still the risk of drowning. Never be overly deceived by something that feels familiar. Weather changes, emergencies of a medical nature, mechanical damages and boat collisions can all become obstacles in your path to survival.
Saying that you only need to put a life jacket on after your boat has capsized is almost the same as saying you will put your seat belt on only if a car crash occurs. Therefore, it is not just important, but critical that you wear a life jacket when out on any body of water in a kayak, regardless of how much control you feel you have over the situation. When you are kayaking, the situations and conditions can change at any moment very quickly and the first line of defence you have against drowning is your life jacket – which is we at Kayak Life take wearing one very seriously.
Always paddle safe, prepared for the worst and wearing a life jacket.
With the above in mind we felt it important to highlight one of our favourite life jackets that is available for sale at the moment. We feel it is one of the best you can buy and is worth investing in before you take up kayaking as a sport or already participate but have been doing so without one.
Helly Hansen Rider Vest Buoyancy Aid
As we’ve discussed, to avoid drowning you need to invest in and wear a life jacket every time you go out on the water. There are hundreds of brands and different types of life jackets out there and everyone has their own preference, much like everyone has a brand of razor they like or even when it comes to kayaks themselves. We picked the following item to highlight as a good option because of the high quality design and manufacturing behind it, the extremely affordable price and the high rating it received on Amazon.
A Little About Helly Hansen
Helly Hansen are a well known and highly respected producer of sports clothing and accessories suitable for activities on mountains and in the water. The company is Norwegian and has existed in some form since it was establish in 1877, based in Moss before relocating in 2009 to Oslo.
So, onto the product in question, the Helly Hansen Rider vest buoyancy aid is a combination of style, functionality and practicality. It is a very low bulk product so it will never feel as if it is weighing you down, as some in the past may have, with a front zip entry to make it easy to slip on and off without any fuss.
Helly Hansen have clearly taken the comfort of their customers into mind as the soft foam front of the vest provides not only security but an extra snug and almost soothing feel, while the PE float built into the back adds to comfort. Obviously the float is designed to be more than a just a comfort aid, but is also there to add another layer of protection and stability if and when the worst happens and you are stuck out from the shore, as it will help keep you afloat whether you are in choppy and erratic waters or just on a calm lake.
It is always a good idea to not only look at the manufacturer of a product, especially one you can’t touch and feel and try out in person; to look at what other customers who have bought the same product thought of it. On Amazon there have been over 180 reviews submitted with a large percentage of those, just under 140, giving the Hell Hansen rider vest buoyancy aid the full 5 out of 5 stars.
Most customers praised the fact that the product does exactly what is expected of it – it keeps you safe and afloat in water. While some had small gripes and complaints about how well it fitted them, the vast majority agreed that for the money the sizing was good enough and the level of comfort it provided was better than some hoped.
As we have established you need a life jacket and should never contemplate heading onto the waters, no matter how calm or choppy they are, without one. If you are not wishing to spend too much money, either because you are not going to be on the water very regularly or are just starting a new hobby, the Helly Hanson rider vest buoyancy aid could be exactly what you need and want.