With Your PFD

Some Additional SUP Safety Gear with Your PFD

The last post was focused on two things: the requirements that the United States Coast Guard has determined is in the best interest of all watercraft, and paddleboards are considered watercraft, and the way the MTI Fluid Inflatable PFD Belt meets those requirements and then some. While MTI makes a great line of personal flotation devices or PFDs for SUPers, Stand On Liquid does have a number of other options including one by Boardworks and another very good entry by QuickSilver. But I thought I’d take a moment to continue the conversation about SUP paddleboard safety with some thoughts about some important, additional stuff you should take with you.

Keep in mind, your safety is extremely important to all of us. But I’m afraid we too often make bad decisions about what to bring, often overestimating our own abilities to survive a mishap and underestimating how quickly conditions can change. You may never need anything you carry – which would be the best news ever, but the few paddleboarders I discussed this with who did use their safety gear, used it to assist paddleboarders who did not have anything with them. They were lucky.

Here’s a short list of things you should always have with you, the vast majority of which will fit in the numerous pockets of your PDF belt. In no particular order of importance:

A Waterproof Very High Frequency Radio – This is an absolute must for ocean going paddleboarders and highly suggested for river boarders. By tuning to channel 16 in the event of an emergencies, distress calls usually break down to these three key calls. Mayday can refer to any number of problems you might have that require USCG assistance. There are other distress calls that provide more accurate information. Use “pan, pan” to report difficulties that involve injuries or “securite, securite” if your problems involve shipping lanes or other craft. Be sure to care for your radio by rinsing it with fresh water and checking the batteries on regular basis.

HydroStar SUP SOS Light

Hydrostar SUP SOS Light

Waterproof Light – Nothing quite matches the multi-functionality of the Seattle Sports Co. Hydrostar SOS Light Signal. With a variety of clicked settings, you can use this as a flashlight, landing light, strobe or an SOS signal. It snaps on to any PFD and is one item you don’t need an emergency to appreciate.

Handheld Rocket Aerial Flares – You only need a couple of these and replace them when you use them. The type of flares used in your car shoot off sparks. The flare guns will work but why carry something else beside the flare.

Whistle – This won’t always work in really bad conditions, high winds or high surf for instance. But for the majority of us, it could be the difference between being heard and not. Some schools of thought suggest getting one without the pea or ball inside. If you do, the whistle will work but the tone will not be as shrill.

Some Additional No-Brainer Checklist Items – A fully charged cell phone, a good hiker’s compass (in case the app on your phone fails you), a second pair of polarized sunglasses, a neoprene skull cap or hood, sun block, a metal signal mirror, a mylar blanket, a hydration pack like the CamelBack Baja LR 70oz Hydration Pack (an excellent investment for on water and off) and of course, a small roll of duck tape.

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