The Record Article

…”You need something that people want to wear,” said Wagner, 38, who has been sailing ever since he was a little boy, growing up in Kingston.

“If people don’t like their (life-jacket), they’ll toss it in the bow of their boat.”

Marine Manufacturers Award – Boats and Places 2004

This award goes to an individual or a company that has made a technological development improving boating safety or benefiting the environment.

It’s tough – creating a product, going through the long process of research and development, manufacturing, marketing and distribution. Once again, it takes dedication.

Small Company with a Big Difference

Salus Marine Wear is a small manufacturing company with a BIG difference.

“We make PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) that deserve to be work,” says president Steve Wagner. All of the Salus projects – from our entry level children’s vest to high performance sail and kayak vests are consumer driven with comfort, style, fit and utility at the forefront of every design.

Roundtable – Boating Business Magazine

…”We have recently partnered with the Canadian Power Squadron as well as with the Canadian Kayaking and Paddling Association – so it’s a grass roots effort and that’s doing well for us right now.”

Article – Designing a Successful Future in Canadian Marine Manufacturing

Sitting in a comfortable leather chair in the new boardroom at Salus Marine Wear in Waterloo, ON, surrounded by displays of colourful and beautifully-made lifejackets and PFDs, you might pause to wonder how Steve Wagner originally got his company started.

Did he foresee the market for high-end technical sporting goods in the marine industry? Or was it his dream to establish a new Canadian manufacturing company? What drove him forward in his quest?

Trip to Nunavik

On a recent trip to Nunavik, I had the opportunity to meet some warm and wonderful people from the villages of Kuujjuaq and Kangiqsualujjuaq. The Inuit, their culture and the rugged and beautiful mountain landscapes, created a lasting impression.

Choosing the Right PFD

PFD and lifejacket designs have become increasingly complex and specialized. The study of body movement and advanced material technology, combined with increased consumer demand for quality and choice, have inspired manufacturers to design and develop more choices than ever before.

Salus Marine Wear Inc.

When Steve Wagner of Kitchener, Ont., decided to build better flotation devices (PFD) a few years ago, he opted for asymmetrical designs with high hip clearance, rounded seams and no flotation on the shoulders. As a result, the vests are comfortable and allow a full range of motion…

Salus Marine Wear Inc.



“Salus Marine and Mustang have embraced quality as the way forward in a lifejacket market dominated by commodity thinking.”

In the face of an ever-increasing tide of cheap Asian imports, two PFD makers have managed to create business models that allow their products to be manufactured in Canada, and exported around the world. The companies are about as different as they could be, but both have embraced quality as the way forward in a lifejacket market dominated by commodity thinking…

Choosing the right PFD

The PFDs stuffed in the storage cubby in the console on your boat are not doing anyone any good. It is only worthwhile having them on board if you’re wearing them on board.

Come on, we all know the drill. More often than not, powerboaters offer up the excuse that PFDs are bulky, uncomfortable and, well, just plain ugly. But that just doesn’t jive anymore. Manufacturers have developed a variety of styles, fits and finishes that will match every on-the-water use. You just need to know how to choose one that’s right for you.


Consider if your PFD is for use on the water or in the water.

If you are looking for something to add to your safety gear or are involved in watersports that don’t involve several dips in the drink, then you have plenty of options. Paddlers would want a PFD that allows for lots of arm movement without chaffing. A looser fit also means more airflow to help keep you cool, but could mean you encounter some ride-up once in the water.

On the other hand, if you are engaging in activities where you are likely to land in the water (such as white water kayaking or wakeboarding) you will need a vest that can be adjusted for a secure fit. This will help to prevent the vest from riding up once you are submerged. To get a secure fit, you can also opt for leg harnesses or straps up high under the arms, but they can be uncomfortable, and just don’t look stylish.


Finding the right fit does not need to be a chore, but you should work more than colour, size and price into the equation. A good local outfitter will be able to help you with the features and benefits of various vests  to help equip you with one that feels like it was made just for you.

Don’t be afraid to make a bit of a spectable of yourself in the store. You should stand, sit and mock the motions of the activities you will be partaking in the make sure the fit is comfortable in all scenarios.

It’s a good idea to also try on a PFD with some clothes on underneath , so you can choose one that can also be used from spring through fall and on nights when it gets cool.


Buying a good PFD for you, your family and your pets extends beyond getting one that fits and floats – for the bargain basement price. One size fits all does not work in the world of PFDs. When choosing the best PFD, do your research and take the time to find the one that is right for you. After all, if the PFDs you choose are comfortable and practical, everyone on-board is more likely wear them.