Paddleboards are capable of going far off the shore and to depths that could be dangerous to you. In most places, like the USA and Canada, the coast guard considers paddle boards to be a water vessel which means it is required that you have a life vest on board.

Paddle boarding has become increasingly popular and people are taking these fun activity boards just about everywhere, from the open ocean to long overnight trips. That is why it’s more important than ever to make sure that you have the best sup life vest. Water conditions can change quickly especially in open water and being prepared could save your life.

How To Choose A Sup Life Vest / Pfd ‚Äď Buying Guide


There are many things that make up the best sup pfd. There are weight capacities for each type of material and style of these flotation devices. Lower profile vests usually have a lower capacity, while more classic vests are higher. Make sure that you do not exceed this limit as it will not keep you afloat.

Features of these vests also range drastically based on the style. Vests have been designed specifically for paddle boarding. This means they are not restrictive and allow you to move freely as you glide atop the water. All of these vests are lightweight to the point of not noticing you are wearing them.

We know you’re busy so with comfort and safety in mind we have found the five best SUP life vests on the market.


Your life vest should fit you well. If you are not comfortable when you are wearing your life vest, then you are going to be inclined to take it off. If you take the life vest off when you are on or near to the water, then you are putting your life in danger. Look for a vest which fits comfortably around your neck and which can be secured comfortably around your waist. The neck is the part of your body which can be chafed, so look for comfortable and soft material.

Freedom & Flexibility

Your life vest should be able to save your life, but there is no point in going out on the water if the vest does not offer you the freedom and flexibility you need. Your arms should have a full range of motion, as should your neck and head. Try some jackets on and ensure that you are able to move freely, especially if you are doing something like yoga.


It may sound silly, but you should make sure that your life vest floats. A cheaper life vest will not be as good as a more expensive one. Look for a vest which has buoyant materials, and also one which will support your weight. If you buy a life vest which is not rated for your weight, then you may as well not even wear one.


You are going to be outside. You are going to be active. You are going to be on the water. You need to find a life vest which is breathable. At some point through the day, you are going to get hot and sweaty. A life vest which can allow the air through will help to get rid of your sweat and cool your body. Look for a life vest which fits close to your body, but also one which has vents. If you can find one which can wick away moisture, then all the better.

Ease Of Use

Your life vest should be easy to use. For most vests, this will mean that it is easy to put on and off. If your life vest comes with extras, such as a whistle or a light, then they should be easy to locate and use. For other types of life vests, the inflation should be quick and easy, and you should be able to do it in an emergency situation.


Life vests are there to keep you afloat in the water. That is the primary reason for a life jacket. The second thing to look for after buoyancy is the color of the lifejacket. If you are in a large body of water and cannot get to the shore or your board, then you want to be seen. If you are out on the water alone, then you want to be found. This is especially important if you run into trouble and lose consciousness. Look for a life vest which is brightly colored. A life vest should not be considered a fashion choice, and the brighter the vest is, the easier it will be to be seen. Life vests are for saving lives.

SUP & PFD Laws

This is something which you should always look into. It does not matter if you are the best swimmer in the world or paddling in the shallowest water, you should always follow the lows of the place you are in. If you have to wear a plantation device, then you have to wear one (we always recommend wearing one regardless). In most places in the US, a paddleboard is described as a vessel, and when you are in a vessel, you need to wear a flotation device.

PFD Types

Type 1 is the most common PFDs. They are basically a big orange rectangle of flotation material which passes over the neck and then secures around your waist with a buckle. Type 2 is more like mini jackets. Your arms go through, and they usually zip and buckle up the front. Type 3 PFDs are designed to keep the floater upright in the water. They are more of a jacket, and often some with storage pockets. Type 4 are throwaway PFDs, such as the ring buoys seen on ships. Type 5 has a Co2 canister which will inflate the device when necessary.



Q: What Is A SUP Life Vest / PFD?


A SUP life vest / PFD is an accessory for your paddleboard which is a must-have in any situation. They are flotation devices which are usually worn around your neck and covering your torso. They are made from a durable and waterproof material and have material inside which is buoyant (or they can be filled with air).

If you ever fall into the water, then a life vest will help to keep you afloat. Some life vests also come with extras, such as storage pockets, extra life-saving equipment, and more. Life vests can be solely to protect you, while others can be worn to keep you warm. If you are ever going out on the water, then you need to have a life vest.

Q: Why Should I Wear A SUP Life Vest?


It could save your life. That is the only answer to that question. It does not matter how good a swimmer you are, mother nature can be stronger. You could be out in the water on your paddleboard when a strong current flips the board. You suddenly find yourself under the water.

A life vest will help to bring you to the surface of the water with ease. When you are there, it will help to keep you afloat, even in the choppiest water. You will be able to get back to your board quicker with a life vest on. There are also a couple of things which a life vest can do to ensure that you get out of the water alive.

If you were to fall into the water and hit your head, then the purpose of a life vest is to keep you afloat when you are unconscious. They are also great for helping you to rest. If you have a long way to the shore, your arms and legs can get tired. It is at this point that you can drown in the water if you are not careful. A life vest will keep you afloat while you rest. They are also brightly colored to help you be seen.

Q: What Type of SUP Life Vest Do I Need?


That depends on the type of paddleboarding you are doing. If you are out on a lake for a relaxing day, then a regular type 1 or type 2 life vest will be fine. If you are going out to fish on the water, then you may want to find a vest which has pockets in it for your extra fishing equipment.

Related Review: Fishing Vest

If you are going to be in a cold area, then fins a vest which will keep you warm. In the faster water, you may want a type 5 life vest so that you can retain more flexibility, while still having the buoyancy. We would always recommend finding a life vest which will keep you afloat. It is good to look for the extras, but you should always find a flotation device which will support your weight.

Globo Surf Overview

Wearing a PFD for your next paddle boarding adventure could mean the difference between life and death. Nobody wants to be limited with how far you can go or the types of waters you can explore, wearing a life vest will make sure that you are safe to do so.

Now more than ever before is it easy to wear these life-saving devices as they come with lightweight and comfortable designs.

More Paddle Reviews:

More Vest Reviews:

Have a life vest on our list? Let us know how it works for you.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!