Proper gear is essential for safe paddling trips. As a trip leader, it is essential to inspect your trip participants gear for suitability and make certain they wear this gear whenever they are on the river or close by. Two pieces of gear deserve special attention:

  • PFD AKA: Life Jacket
  • Helmet AKA: The Brain Bucket

Life jackets provide a number of benefits but only if you wear one:

  • Helps you keep your head up where you can breath
  • Some impact protection against rocks and abrasion
  • Improved visibility when swimming in water due to bright colors. Some even have reflective tape.
  • Pockets for small amounts of gear like keys, safety whistle, small camera, etc.
  • Also added insulation and some wind protection

We will dive into more detail on these two essential pieces of gear later on in the course. Besides having a suitable PFD and helmet, they must fit properly. Check the life jacket for fit by tugging on the shoulder straps. You should be able to lift the person out of water and on to shore (or a raft) by their shoulder straps. Also check the helmet for rock back - no more than 1/2". Helmet rock back is a very common cause of forehead concussions. Here is a great safety video from the ACA called Life Jackets Float. Do you?