Buoyancy aids are different to lifejackets.
Where a lifejacket is bulky and is designed to keep you floating in a face-up position, a buoyancy aid is thinner, lacks neck support and is designed only to allow you to float, rather than rotating you to the face-up position.
The buoyancy aid is made with the idea that the person wearing one is still conscious and able to help themselves from trouble.
Where the leash is a critical ‘must-have’ piece of safety equipment, the buoyancy aid is optional and should be considered based on a number of personal factors.
It is important above all else, to be honest with yourself about your own ability and experience as a paddler, swimmer and knowledgeable about your location, water and weather conditions.
The buoyancy aid is not a guarantee of safety.
If you fall off your board, a buoyancy aid is bulky and can make it harder to get back onto your board. If you wear a buoyancy aid, make sure you practice getting back on a board easily, well before going out.
If you feel you need to wear a buoyancy aid, ask yourself why?
For example, you want to wear a buoyancy aid, because you can’t swim, or are a poor swimmer.
Importantly, it is a SUP Standard that you should be a competent swimmer before going paddleboarding— otherwise, you should only be paddling with a qualified instructor.
Buoyancy aids should never be worn in breaking waves.
If you need to get under the wave, to get out of danger, you wont be able to with a buoyancy aid on.
Remember, abide by the SUP Standards for safe water and weather conditions and stay clear of hazards.
Experience, ability and knowledge offer far greater aid on the water than any personal flotation device ever could.