In Australia, lifejacket laws differ from state to state. Since Victoria's laws were introduced, there have been many lives saved as a result. While we also have one of the lowest rates of boating-related drownings, sadly, every year many boaters drown not wearing a lifejacket. Lifejacket laws are actively enforced by marine authorities. Penalties apply if occupants are not wearing lifejackets when they are required to do so.
Under the Marine Safety Regulations all persons on board a kayak, canoe, rowing boat must wear a Type 1, 2 or 3 (Level 100+, Level 50 or level 50S) lifejacket at all times.
Marine Safety Victoria have complied an excellent information resource to help you decide on the best type for you that is available here:
They have also made this video which explains the difference between type 1, 2 & 3 jackets.
Under the Marine Safety Regulations all persons on board a kayak, canoe or rowing boat must wear a Type 1, 2 or 3 (Level 100+, Level 50 or level 50S) lifejacket at all times when the vessel is underway on any waterway. Unlike for recreational boat operators, you have to wear your personal flotation device (PFD) at all times while operating your kayak or ski so it is important to get a jacket that will be comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. A type 2 PFD is most suitable for paddling purposes with designs available to cater for paddlers. Reflective strips, at least 50N of buoyancy and hi-vis colours fit the bill for kayak fishing use particularly those operating in low-light conditions.
I’ve tried many different lifejackets in my time and can tell you first hand that while cheap PFD’s may meet the legal requirements, they have limited adjustment and will ride up as you paddle. This will generally cause them to rub under your chin as you rotate to paddle and can be pretty frustrating for a day on the water. My day to day PFD is an Ultra; they are comfortable and practical with pockets for the essentials including VHF radios, and PLB,s as well as hydration bladders. We stock two of my favourites from Ultra, one for those who like to carry a lot on their vest and one slimmer model for those who just want to carry the basics.