We have yet another reason to SUP with a personal flotation device (PFD). The World Paddling Association (WPA) announced this week that leashes and PFDs are mandatory for all competitors in all open water or specified races. Open water races are defined as a course that is greater than a quarter mile off shore, greater than a quarter mile from the race location in either direction, in conditions that may warrant the use of a leash and PFD, or as mandated by the race director and WPA.
Looking at the options for a PFD best suited for racing, the inflatable PFD belt is a viable option. There are a handful of inflatable belts on the market. At Amelia Island Paddle Surf Co. we have been using (and abusing) the Onyx M-16 inflatable PFD belt.
One of the key features we like about the Onyx M-16 include its durability. We are rough on our equipment and it has held up with minimal upkeep. We also like the D-ring on the belt. It is the perfect spot for a leash, whistle, or light. One of the features unique to the Onyx M-16 is the slack adjustment system (as we call it). This system enables the user to tighten the belt and then secure the excess portion so that it does not hang down or off the back of the belt (which gets in the way and just looks sloppy otherwise).
Its small size is our favorite feature. This inflatable PFD is very low profile and lightweight. You will literally forget you are wearing it. And, it stays out of the way of your hydration system. Lastly, it is one of the lower priced inflatable PFDs on the market including the CO2 rearming kits which make it a bargain in our minds. Be Safe.
Other inflatable PFD belt options include: