The Evolution of the PFD

Ever wondered how the modern day life jacket came to be? We spoke with Charlie Walbridge, founder of Wildwater Designs and whitewater safety guru for over 30 years, who gave us an oral history of the personal flotation device (PFD). Check out its evolution.

870 A.D. – The earliest recorded flotation devices were inflated animal skins used by an Assyrian army to cross a moat.

1800s – Norwegian sailors developed a life vest made out of wood and cork. The British Royal Navy was slow to adopt them because they were in the habit of kidnapping sailors and forcing them onto boats; flotation devices were tempting escape methods and prohibited on ships.

Read: The Evolution of the PFD