Inspect your buoyancy aid
Check for any rips or tears in the fabric or webbing. Note also that buoyancy aids degrade with time so if it is an older model, it may be worth weight testing it to ensure it is up to the job (More information on this coming in a later post!).
Check the label
Inside the buoyancy aid which should tell you how much weight it can safely take, if you are above the recommended weight range for a particular buoyancy aid then you may need to try a different design or size.
Fitting the Buoyancy Aid
There are various styles of buoyancy aids on the market. Some with zips and some pull over the head.
Whichever type you have, loosen all the straps and pop it on.
Ensure that you have done up all the buckles and zips that are there (check for the sneaky little buckle that is often hiding under the zip!).
Once you’re happy every buckle and zip is fastened you want to start tightening your buoyancy aid.
Start with the lowest straps and pull on them to tighten. You want them snug, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable! These straps are probably the most important and ideally they should sit beneath your rib cage.
Then tighten any remaining straps around the torso moving upwards from the bottom, again so that they are snug, but not uncomfortable.
Lastly, tighten the shoulder straps. These ones are a little different. You want to take the slack out of them so that the buoyancy aid sits snugly in against your body, but you do not want to pull them so tight that the buoyancy aid rides up.
Now everything should be fastened and snug.
Finally, hold the shoulders of the buoyancy aid and pull upwards (or even better ask someone else to do it for you), this simulates the pressure the water will exert on the buoyancy aid if you find yourself swimming.
If the buoyancy aid rides up and is now underneath your chin, go back to the first step and tighten each strap a little more tightly this time, if you cannot get a tight enough fit then you may need to try a smaller buoyancy aid. If the buoyancy aid barely moves, well done! You have a correctly fitting buoyancy aid and are ready to go paddling.
If you would like to learn more about kayaking safely, why not join us on one of our courses, we will help you expand your knowledge and kayaking ability in a safe and enjoyable way.