Basics for Beginners

Gear: PFDs and Spray Skirts

Each kayaker wears a spray skirt and a personal floatation device (PFD). The spray skirt encloses the kayak's cockpit in order to keep your lower body and the inside of the kayak dry. The PFD provides important buoyancy in "the unlikely event of a water landing." 


1) First, put on your spray skirt. Most of our spray skirts will have suspender-like shoulder straps. Straighten and separate the straps, then step into the skirt with the largest section in front of you. Make sure the grab look is in front and up. The skirt body will come up just below your chest. Take up the slack in the shoulder straps so that the skirt hangs properly. Tighten the skirt drawstring. 

2) Select a PFD in your general size range (XS, S/M, L, XL). If the PFD of your size seems tight, loosen the straps on either side. Once on, zip up the front. Note the safety whistle on the zipper. If the whistle is missing, tell your trip leader. 

3) Tighten the straps on either side of your PFD. 

4) Your PFD is on properly when it is both comfortable and snug. Comfortable so that you can breathe and move without feeling constricted and snug enough that it does not shift upward more than an inch or so when you tug up on the shoulder straps (of the PFD). 


Westwind Adventures