-- Last Updated: Jan-28-14 2:02 PM EST --
If it's a big lake with rough conditions or very cold water, I treat it as ocean paddling minus the tidal factor: Wear the PFD.
If it's small, sheltered, and not so cold, I usually don't wear the PFD.
On rivers, I always wear it, regardless whether "open" or with nearby shoreline.
There is also an occasional exception to my ocean rule: If in a sheltered cove or bay with warm weather and water I might not wear the PFD.
It depends on more variables than "openness."
When I bring a VHF radio, it rides in the day hatch.
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