Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This is Why I #WearIt

Guest post by ACA Instructor and Arizona State Director Danielle Keil. Danielle is a Level 3: River Kayaking Instructor, Level 2: Essentials of River Canoe Instructor, and a swiftwater tech for state search and rescue. Her favorite place to paddle is the Upper Salt River in Arizona.

I grew up on the river… I swear paddling is in my DNA. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved putting on my lifejacket, because it meant that an adventure was soon to follow. Cheers to Dad for a good job teaching me the importance of wearing one (having brightly colored marine animals on it didn’t hurt, either). When I got serious about whitewater, I was in that awkward in-between phase where the youth lifejackets were too small, and the adult sizes were too big. Back then I didn’t have many options, so I spent a whole year paddling in a bulky generic type III. Fast forward almost 20 years later, and my lifejacket is one of my favorite gear items.

Since I never had any aversion to wearing my lifejacket, I find it hard to understand why people stubbornly refuse to wear them. With the technology advancements in the last few years alone, lifejackets are more comfortable than ever and come in a variety of designs and options for you to find the perfect one. 

The first thing I tell my students is to shop around and try on as many different types as you can find. Just because sponsored paddler Joe wears lifejacket X, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. While an inflatable belt type may work for SUP, it has no place on the river. Like to fish? There’s plenty of fishing lifejackets on the market tailored for you! Don’t be overwhelmed with all the bells and whistles. Just because it has the fancy outlet to charge your jetpack, doesn’t mean you need it. 

Danielle and her pup Max both Wear It!
After a few years and several lifejackets, I found the perfect one, which for me is my Astral Greenjacket. I wear it for everything; SUP, Touring, Whitewater, even Sailing! Here is why I #WearIt. My lifejacket keeps me afloat should I swim (intentional or not…), keeps me warm when it’s cold or windy, protects me from rocks and the occasional bow of my friend’s kayak, works perfectly as a pillow for overnight excursions/nap time, and has turned in to a carryall for my essentials. At any given time, I’ve the following in my lifejacket:

· Watch
· Whistle
· Chapstick and Sunscreen
· Snacks
· CPR Mask and Gloves
· Prusik cord/ Webbing
· Two locking carabiners
· River Knife
· Z-Drag Chart

· Rubber ducky/inflatable beach ball (I'm a big hit with my friends' kids)
· Small ACA Paddle Green Bag

So, why do you #WearIt?

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