PFD Care: What You Should Know

Posted By: Adam Published: 10/06/2020

We regularly get asked about our official guidelines for PFD lifespans and recommended testing procedures. This article aims to clarify any questions you may have, whether an individual or professional user! Here goes...

First and foremost:

Always read the information provided with any PFD before using. 

It is up to the user to learn how to best look after their equipment. Not only will this make for much more effective, nicer kit, but it will ensure you get the maximum usage out of your equipment. If you are ever unsure, just ask. Between well-looked after and neglected kit, the difference in lifespan can be several years. 

So what should you be looking for when getting ready to go boating?

Visual Checks

Our PFDs require no servicing, but we recommend that you visually check yours before AND after every use. It doesn't take long, and could save your life.

Look for: 

  • Holes and rips in the fabric, however small.
  • Excessive fading. Most PFDs will fade a little when used in direct sunlight often enough, but excessive UV damage can be very detrimental to the fabric.
  • Damaged webbing, buckles or zips. 
If any problems are found we would recommend replacing your PFD immediately. If you are unsure drop us an email to We may possibly be able to replace a broken buckle, but the construction of a PFD is fairly complicated and structural repairs to fabric and webbing are rarely feasible.


We strongly recommend annually testing the uplift of your pfd. A crude test is with a steel weight in water at room temperature. It is important to use steel, not lead, as the weight’s density will seriously effect the test result. If your PFD’s required uplift is 50N, then a 5kg weight should be a good test. For 70N device a 7kg weight will be work. This is a pretty crude test though! For more accurate testing we suggest you set yourself up a test rig. Check out the video below for Peak UK Chief Pete showing you how it's done.


The lifespan of your PFD depends upon its care and use. We estimate that it will last for up to 500 hours use if cared for properly. That’s around three to four years if it is used for three hours a week. If you use it for an hour a week, you may get ten years use from it. If you use it for ten hours a week, you may need to replace it after a year. With regards to shelf life, we recommend that your PFD is replaced (at the latest) ten years after its date of manufacture. The date of manufacture is printed inside the PFD.

Washing & storage

Rinse in fresh water after use! It is hard to overstate how good regular cleaning in fresh water is for your equipment. Hang to drip dry in the shade, away from heat and fumes. Rinsing in disinfectant may reduce the lifespan of your PFD. Store dry, away from direct sunlight and heat, and do not compress.


Only use a PFD that fits correctly. For usage, all buckles should be firmly locked and the device should fit close to your body, without limiting mobility too much. Firstly try the PFD on land and then on a calm stretch of water. Never go out onto the water alone and always wear your PFD. Full performance of this device may not be achieved if the user wears non-suitable clothing and footwear. Wetsuits, shorts, dry tops, dry pants and one piece suits are great. If you use this PFD with a drysuit, make sure you remove as much air as possible from inside the suit before use. This air will effect the PFD’s performance and your ability to swim. Trapped air and carried loads will impair the performance of your PFD and full performance may not be achieved using waterproof clothing or in any other circumstances.

Water and weather conditions

Take instruction or train yourself in the use of this device and do not venture out in conditions beyond your skill and experience level. Teach your child to float in their PFD. Buoyancy Aids are for those who can swim and are close to help and do not guarantee rescue! 

And finally...

DO NOT USE AS A CUSHION! You have been warned...

We hope this answers any questions you may have. If not, drop us a line on 01629 732611 or email 

See you on the water...

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