Is It Illegal To Kayak Without A Life Jacket? Can You Go Kayaking Without it?

Is It Illegal To Kayak Without A Life Jacket

Last updated on September 2, 2022

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According to the United States Coast Guard, it is not illegal to kayak without a life jacket. However, it is highly recommended that you wear one whenever you’re on the water.

In addition to the Coast Guard’s recommendation, many states have their own laws regarding life jackets. For example, in Colorado, anyone kayaking on a river must have a life jacket on board.

While there are no specific laws in Michigan requiring kayakers to wear life jackets, the state strongly recommends that everyone use a life jacket when kayaking.

So while it’s not technically illegal to kayak without a life jacket, you may want to follow your state’s recommendations and wear one anyway. It could save your life.

Do You Have To Wear A Life Jacket When Kayaking?

The simple answer to this question is yes. You are required to wear a life jacket when kayaking in most states. However, there may be a few exceptions. For example, some states do not require you to wear a life jacket if you are in a kayak that is less than 16 feet long.

However, even if you are in a kayak that is not required to have a life jacket, the state may still recommend that you wear one.

It is important to check with your state’s law enforcement agency before embarking on your kayaking trip to make sure you are aware of all the applicable laws. And, as always, it is best to play it safe and wear a life jacket, even when not legally required.

7 Reasons Why You Should Wear A Life Jacket When Kayaking

So why should you wear a life jacket when kayaking? There are several reasons.

1: They Keep You Warm

If you ever fall into the water during your kayak trip, wearing a life jacket will help keep you warm and afloat. This is especially important if the water temperature is low. Wearing a properly fitting life jacket can help prevent hypothermia and even death.

2: They Help You Stay Afloat

A life jacket will also help keep you afloat in the event that you fall out of your kayak. This is especially important if you are not a strong swimmer.

3: They Protect You From Injury

Life jackets will protect you from the potentially dangerous and sometimes unpredictable currents of rivers and fast-moving water. They can also help to protect you in rough waters when you’re kayaking in open water.

4: They Can Help You Catch Fish

Many anglers use life jackets when fishing because they provide easy access to gear such as a pocket knife, pliers and a net. This is especially helpful when fishing out of kayaks because they often do not have storage space for all of the traditional fishing gear.

5: They Keep You Visible

If you ever need rescuing, you will be glad that your life jacket keeps you visible so rescuers can find you quickly. In addition, wearing a reflective safety vest can further help to increase your visibility.

6: They’re Comfortable

Many people choose to wear life jackets even when they are not legally required to do so. This is because they are often more comfortable than traditional life jackets. They are made from lightweight materials and often have built-in padding, which makes them more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

7: They Could Save Your Life

The bottom line is that life jackets can save your life. No matter what your level of kayaking experience, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when you’re on the water. It could be the difference between surviving and not making it back to shore.

How to Wear a Life Jacket the Right Way – Step by Step Instructions

Now that you know why it’s important to wear a life jacket when kayaking, let’s take a look at how to wear one correctly.

1. The first step is to make sure that your life jacket fits properly. It should be snug enough so that it doesn’t move around when you move, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. Keep in mind that life jackets are often designed to fit loosely when they’re not worn, so you may need to adjust the fastenings before you actually put it on.

2. Once your life jacket fits properly, you should buckle all of the straps and fastenings. These can vary depending on the kind of life jacket you have, but the main strap usually goes across your chest and over your shoulder blades. Many people like to buckle their straps before putting on their life jackets for convenience and ease of removal. This is especially important if you ever need to escape quickly from your kayak in an emergency situation. You should also make sure that all of the straps are properly adjusted.

3. Now that your life jacket is on correctly, you should do a fit test to make sure that it fits snugly and securely. To do this, turn sideways toward the wall and lean against it while still wearing your life jacket. If you can move more than an inch or two away from the wall, your life jacket is too loose and you need to adjust the straps.

4. Finally, make sure that all of the labels and instructions are legible and that you understand them. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask a state’s law enforcement agency or a local kayaking shop for more information.

The Requirements for Life Jackets in the Different States of the United States of America

Different states of the United States of America have different life jacket laws. Here under the life jacket laws in few states:

Alabama

According to section 13A-13-6, you must wear a Type I, II or III U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while kayaking if kayak is less than 16 feet in length. If kayak is longer than 16 feet, then you are required to have a wearable PFD for each person on board.

Alaska

According to Alaska Statutes, Section 04.23.080, all children under the age of six must wear a Type I or II U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel.

Arizona

There are no specific laws in Arizona regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

Arkansas

There are no specific laws in Arkansas regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

Colorado

In Colorado, kayakers must carry one wearable PFD for each person on board while underway. If you are under the age of 13, a wearable PFD is required at all times when in or on a vessel. You must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while kayaking if your vessel is less than 16 feet in length.

Florida

There are no specific laws in Florida regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

Georgia

There are no specific laws in Georgia regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

Hawaii

In Hawaii, all children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on the water.

Kansas

In Kansas, all children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel. Kayakers are not required to wear a life jacket, but it is always a good idea to do so.

Maryland

There are no specific laws in Maryland regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

Michigan

In Michigan, all children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel.

Minnesota

In Minnesota, all children under the age of 10 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel.

Missouri

In Missouri, all children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel. Kayakers are not required to wear a life jacket, but it is always a good idea to do so.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, all children under the age of 16 must wear a life jacket while on a vessel.

New York

In New York, all children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel.

Rhode Island

There are no specific laws in Rhode Island regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

Texas

In Texas, all children under the age of 12 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel.

 Kayakers are not required to wear a life jacket, but it is always a good idea to do so.

Virginia

In Virginia, all children under the age of 12 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while on a vessel.

Kayakers are not required to wear a life jacket, but it is always a good idea to do so.

Washington

There are no specific laws in Washington regarding life jacket use while kayaking. However, it is always a good idea to wear a life jacket when engaging in any water activity.

As you can see, there are a variety of laws regulating life jacket use in different states throughout the U.S.A. It is always important to be aware of these laws and to follow them when engaging in any water activity, such as kayaking. Wearing a life jacket can save your life, so it is definitely worth taking the time to learn these laws and follow them accordingly.

Conclusion

It’s important to know the laws in your state. If you are kayaking without a life jacket, make sure to follow all of the safety precautions for an enjoyable and safe experience!

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