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The requirement for having life vests aboard is obvious, but should you go overboard, staying above the water isn’t your only goal. First, you have to be found. That’s why my favorite life jackets have something in common: pockets. Your life jacket is a great place to keep necessary safety tools. Often times people keep much of their safety gear in the back of their kayak, but this can cause an issue if your kayak is the one pinned and you are unable to retrieve the gear needed from the back of your kayak. This is why keeping some of your equipment in your life jacket can be better.

Here is a list of all the things I keep in my life jacket at all times and why:

  • Whistle Signaling
  • 20 feet of webbing
  • Used to lower boats
  • Use as rope if someone is close to you (instead of whole throw bag)
  • Set ankers
  • Clip to boat and hold the rope (instead of holding on the boat) to exit your boat in difficult sports
  • Building Harnesses
  • 4 carabiners 4 locking (two in pockets, one easy access on my shoulder strap, one on my webbing)
    Non-locking should never be kept outside of pockets, used under pressure or used in places where things could easily clip into it.
    1 pulley
  • Misdirection when setting up mechanical advantages when unpinning boats
    2 presicks
  • Set up mechanical advantages
  • Use to ascend rope
  • Protection while repelling
    visit to get 1 self defense Knife
  • Cutting rope
  • Making peanut butter and jellies
    1 ATC
  • An ATC is an extra piece of equipment that I use to repel and lower people.
    1 Sham-wow
  • Cutting a piece of a sham-wow is a great thing to keep in your life jacket to dry your hand when operating a camera or if you need to use a First Aid Kit.

Going overboard is the most dangerous part of boating. Choose your life jacket and set it up as if you knew you were about to fall overboard. Plan on it. The gear you leave on the boat won’t be of any help once you’re in the water.