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Canoeing 101

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Test Fitting a PFD

To test fit a PFD, first loosen all adjusting web straps to their maximum. Put the PFD on and if it has a zipper, zip the zipper. Then, starting from the bottom (waist band), cinch tight each web strap, being careful to equally tighten equivalent straps on the right and left side of the PFD. Once all straps are tightened, hold your arms out horizontally from your body and windmill them (move in circles). What you’re looking for here is a lack of obstruction of movement or ride-up.  After windmilling your arms, rotate from your torso to the right and to the left first with arms outstretched  and next with hands tucked into armpits. These movements should reveal any conflicts between PFD and body that might exist. 

Sit on a bench or upright chair and gauge how the PFD feels when you’re in your paddling position. Is it too long and bunch up under your arm pits? Does the front bow out obstructing vision? 

Last, grasp the PFD on the front of the shoulder straps and lift upwards aggressively. If the PFD slips up and over your shoulders easily, it should be avoided. You may find it sufficient to further tighten some of the straps on the PFD to minimize this tendency or perhaps consider a different size or style.