Life jackets/PFD

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Douglasdzaster

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Another older guy here considering buying a flotation device. I am/was a strong swimmer, but have a weak shoulder now. So I'm a wear it all the time guy too. I almost went over the side twice last year and realize dangerous that could well be when by yourself on a deserted lake.

Getting back into boating and fishing last year, I suffered with a cheap orange one, but I bought my grandson a ski vest because it just looks cooler. Seems to me a no-brainer to buy a ski vest for myself. Am I missing something? Seems like these inflatable things are a bit too gadgety and possibly not reliable. I mean a ski vest will never let you down right? Smallish guy here BTW, 150 lbs.
I’m going to try the inflatable or I’ll burn up during the Texas summer with a vest on. Another reason I just added extra lighting for night fishing. And I’m definitely wearing at night. I have gotten serious about this the older I’ve gotten. I almost went in myself a couple times.
I have a bilge pump with manual and automatic start. And an extra one I can move about the boat if necessary. Last but not least the best thing. A determined man with a bucket.
 

Douglasdzaster

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Ski vests are good for water sports were you can be skidding across the water. ie they stay on. But, they severly limit arm movement. For a conventional style vest, try on a "kayak" style. They do allow for good arm movement. But, try them on at a store, and see what is comfortable for you. You will just get a few stares when you fein casting. :)


Kayak Style Examples
Some of those kayak styles don’t look bad as far as being able to move around. I could probably throw my net with one of those. I could where one of those when it’s cold.
 

FuzzyGrub

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I posted the link such that LR knew what I was talking about.

My kids bought me some of those Huk sunscreen shirts that help with the heat. In NY, the inflatable only counts for a pfd if you are wearing it.

When my son and I came to Texas to fish, San Antonio had its first snowstorm in 10 years. ;)
 

Ray Clark

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Another older guy here considering buying a flotation device. I am/was a strong swimmer, but have a weak shoulder now. So I'm a wear it all the time guy too. I almost went over the side twice last year and realize dangerous that could well be when by yourself on a deserted lake.

Getting back into boating and fishing last year, I suffered with a cheap orange one, but I bought my grandson a ski vest because it just looks cooler. Seems to me a no-brainer to buy a ski vest for myself. Am I missing something? Seems like these inflatable things are a bit too gadgety and possibly not reliable. I mean a ski vest will never let you down right? Smallish guy here BTW, 150 lbs.
Don't know that I'd be overly concerned about the reliability of auto-inflatables. US Navy uses a mil-spec version of them for crews working on decks of their ships. The mechanism is simple and they are USCG-approved. Between that and product liability concerns, I think manufacturers are sufficiently motivated to make sure the designs work.

And, as pointed out, auto-inflatables have to be worn to count as a PFD. However, most boat mishaps and man overboard situations render unworn traditional PFDs meaningless as well.
 

dcbz

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I, too, would not worry about the reliability of auto-inflatable life jackets. There are two types of mechanisms for auto-inflatables; one uses a dissolvable "pill" that will dissolve in a fraction of a second when it gets wet, allowing the CO2 cartrige to be punctured and inflating the jacket. Manufacturers of usually refer to the "pill" as a bobbin. This is the most common type of auto-inflatable, is nearly foolproof, and is cheaper to maintain than the second type which uses hydrostatic pressure to activate the inflation mechanism. Their is only one negative (a small one) that I can think of with this type of inflation mechanism: if not maintained (i.e. change the "pill" or bobbin when the it expires) it will eventually activate on its own as the bobbin slowly dissolves over time in a humid environment. If you are wearing the jacket when this occurs, you will be looking for your spare underwear. It is loud when it goes off without being submersed. Ask how I know this. I wear one of these the entire time that I am on the water. It is lightweight and unobtrusive so I doubt that anyone would have a problem throwing a castnet while wearing one. My wife and I fish approximately 4 days per week and I don't even notice that I am wearing a life jacket, even under the hot desert sun at Lake Amistad where we live.
The second type, already mentioned, is an auto-inflator that uses hydrostatic pressure (4" water column) to activate it. This type of inflator will inflate the life vest when it sinks 4" under water. The obvious advantage to this type of inflation mechanism is that it has to be submersed to a depth of 4" to activate, making it impervious to the effects of humidity or the occasional rain storm. The disadvantage to this type of life jacket is that it is expensive to maintain. The reactivation kit for a hydrostatic inflator is approximately $80-90. Rearming kits for the bobbin type inflator are approximately $25-30. Mustang Survival is the only manufacturer of life jackets that I am aware of that use hydrostatic pressure to activate, though there may be others. My wife wears one of these and it is more sturdy than any other inflatable life jacket that I have seen.
Both types of inflatable life jackets mentioned here have a tube with a check valve in it (on the left shoulder) that allows the user to inflate the jacket from one's lungs in the unlikely event that the auto-inflation mechanism doesn't work. Also, both types usually have a pull cord that allows one to manually puncture the CO2 cartridge if necessary.
USCG requires that conventional (common, orange covered foam types) Type III life jackets provide at least 15.5 pounds of buoyancy. Inflatables are required to provide at least 22.5 pounds of buoyancy and many provide more than that. You will not sink while wearing one.
An important note...A boat operator is required to have one Type I, II, or III for each person on board while underway. An inflatable is classified as a Type V life jacket if you are not wearing it and it classifies as a Type III life jacket while it is being worn. This warning is often on the lifejacket tag as well. In other words, if you want to carry an inflatable life jacket, but not wear it, you must also have another life jacket on board for each person that does this. There is a reason for this... it is nearly impossible to put on an inflatable life jacket after it is already inflated, rendering it no more useful than a Type IV throwable. If you are stopped by law enforcement and only have an inflatable in the boat, yet you are not wearing it, you might very well be fined for not having a Type III life jacket on board unless you have the common orange foam life jackets on board as well. We keep an extra orange foam Type III life jacket in a rod locker for those occasions that my wife likes to sit in the sun and dry off after a swim from the boat.
Another important note.... I suggest buying the pill/bobbin reinflator mechanism in person or from a reputable retailer if buying online. The bobbin has an expiration date printed on it. I was burned one time when I ordered rearming kits from Amazon that arrived with expired bobbins. The kits are easy enough to find at West Marine when I visit Austin, Bass Pro, Academy and etcetera and I am assured of receiving a fresh bobbin when buying in person.
I have spare auto-inflatable life jackets that I keep for visitors. It is not uncommon for West Marine to put their house brand auto-inflatables on sale. The last ones I bought were two for $99! Let us know what you choose.
 

TexasJim

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If you want a regular PFD to wear, look at the ones made for kayakers. They have flotation high on the back and are made for mobility. I wear my NRS Chinook almost all the time in my skiff. I asked my neighbor once if he wore his PFD all the time in his Whaler? He said, "If the big motor's on, the PFD's on. Trolling motor, no". Since the law in Texas says you have to have the "dead man switch" hooked to you when motoring, it's easy to remember to put on the PFD. I almost always fish solo, so there won't be anyone there to save me, but me. TexasJim
 

LaqueRatt

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Glad I found this thread and this web site. It's been many years since did much boating or fishing. Life just seemed to kinda get in the way. I wasn't even aware of inflatables. Or kayak style vests. After a season, short season that it was, in one of the bulky orange jobbies any vest is going to seem nonrestrictive. I don't encounter a lot of high heat, intend to do mostly bobber and tight-line fishing. Still leaning towards a ski vest, but am going to think about the kayak style. Those inflatable types don't really appeal to me for a lot of reasons, but I may reconsider. I've never even seen one.
 

TheGrandestPoobah

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fwiw: Im a safety nerd, so I wear one at all times. Have always used a relatively lightweight "kayak" style pfd but I think I might get an auto-inflator for my birthday this summer.
I was a competitive swimmer in my youth, in my mid-30's now and would still rate myself an excellent swimmer, but you never know what can happen. The majority of my time on the water is with my kids as well and I try to model good safety. Even if you are a great swimmer, there are still instances where I would love the extra float, i.e. rescue swimming.
 

Douglasdzaster

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I, too, would not worry about the reliability of auto-inflatable life jackets. There are two types of mechanisms for auto-inflatables; one uses a dissolvable "pill" that will dissolve in a fraction of a second when it gets wet, allowing the CO2 cartrige to be punctured and inflating the jacket. Manufacturers of usually refer to the "pill" as a bobbin. This is the most common type of auto-inflatable, is nearly foolproof, and is cheaper to maintain than the second type which uses hydrostatic pressure to activate the inflation mechanism. Their is only one negative (a small one) that I can think of with this type of inflation mechanism: if not maintained (i.e. change the "pill" or bobbin when the it expires) it will eventually activate on its own as the bobbin slowly dissolves over time in a humid environment. If you are wearing the jacket when this occurs, you will be looking for your spare underwear. It is loud when it goes off without being submersed. Ask how I know this. I wear one of these the entire time that I am on the water. It is lightweight and unobtrusive so I doubt that anyone would have a problem throwing a castnet while wearing one. My wife and I fish approximately 4 days per week and I don't even notice that I am wearing a life jacket, even under the hot desert sun at Lake Amistad where we live.
The second type, already mentioned, is an auto-inflator that uses hydrostatic pressure (4" water column) to activate it. This type of inflator will inflate the life vest when it sinks 4" under water. The obvious advantage to this type of inflation mechanism is that it has to be submersed to a depth of 4" to activate, making it impervious to the effects of humidity or the occasional rain storm. The disadvantage to this type of life jacket is that it is expensive to maintain. The reactivation kit for a hydrostatic inflator is approximately $80-90. Rearming kits for the bobbin type inflator are approximately $25-30. Mustang Survival is the only manufacturer of life jackets that I am aware of that use hydrostatic pressure to activate, though there may be others. My wife wears one of these and it is more sturdy than any other inflatable life jacket that I have seen.
Both types of inflatable life jackets mentioned here have a tube with a check valve in it (on the left shoulder) that allows the user to inflate the jacket from one's lungs in the unlikely event that the auto-inflation mechanism doesn't work. Also, both types usually have a pull cord that allows one to manually puncture the CO2 cartridge if necessary.
USCG requires that conventional (common, orange covered foam types) Type III life jackets provide at least 15.5 pounds of buoyancy. Inflatables are required to provide at least 22.5 pounds of buoyancy and many provide more than that. You will not sink while wearing one.
An important note...A boat operator is required to have one Type I, II, or III for each person on board while underway. An inflatable is classified as a Type V life jacket if you are not wearing it and it classifies as a Type III life jacket while it is being worn. This warning is often on the lifejacket tag as well. In other words, if you want to carry an inflatable life jacket, but not wear it, you must also have another life jacket on board for each person that does this. There is a reason for this... it is nearly impossible to put on an inflatable life jacket after it is already inflated, rendering it no more useful than a Type IV throwable. If you are stopped by law enforcement and only have an inflatable in the boat, yet you are not wearing it, you might very well be fined for not having a Type III life jacket on board unless you have the common orange foam life jackets on board as well. We keep an extra orange foam Type III life jacket in a rod locker for those occasions that my wife likes to sit in the sun and dry off after a swim from the boat.
Another important note.... I suggest buying the pill/bobbin reinflator mechanism in person or from a reputable retailer if buying online. The bobbin has an expiration date printed on it. I was burned one time when I ordered rearming kits from Amazon that arrived with expired bobbins. The kits are easy enough to find at West Marine when I visit Austin, Bass Pro, Academy and etcetera and I am assured of receiving a fresh bobbin when buying in person.
I have spare auto-inflatable life jackets that I keep for visitors. It is not uncommon for West Marine to put their house brand auto-inflatables on sale. The last ones I bought were two for $99! Let us know what you choose.
Thanks for all the information. I’m pretty sure after what I’ve learned from this post I’m getting an inflatable and keep my almost new life jacket in the boat so I’ll have it handy to show off if I bed to.
 

airshot

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I always have my pfd close by but chose not to wear due to being uncomfortable. Tried an inflatable but they are heavy and bother my bad shoulders. Having been a boater for over 60 yrs, I try not to do anything that would cause me to go over...having moved to a smaller boat, I dont stand up and walk around, I dont go out in rough water, I frequently move about on my knees or hands and knees. I am on my hands and knees when I deploy my TM. I know that I am alone most of the time so I go overboard in taking precautions!! Yes, you should wear a pfd, no argument...but I choose other measures in order to be more comfortable. At 73 yrs of age, I am extremely cautious, but not going to be uncomfortable, worked to long and to hard to spend my last years being uncomfortble. I did wear them in my younger days when my kids were young to send the proper message, and I still recomend them to others. My passengers have to have one with them at all times like I do, but if they are grown adults, they can choose whether to have it on their backs. Just my .02....
 

LaqueRatt

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Makes perfect send to me airshot and if my rotator cup wasn't giving me grief I might not wear one either. I just have doubts if I could swim to shore these days or climb back into the boat.

Stopped in at Wallyworld yesterday. Disappointed that they had almost no boating items. They did have ski vests though. Pretty ugly and seemed overpriced to me in the $45-50 range. I think for that much I can choose from quite a few.
 
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dcbz

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For what it's worth, West Marine currently has their house brand auto/manual inflatables on sale. Their inland vest, at $69, is lightweight and adequate for any situation that anyone might be in while fishing. I have seen them cheaper, but $30 off their usual $99 isn't too bad a price for anyone that is interested.
 

Douglasdzaster

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For what it's worth, West Marine currently has their house brand auto/manual inflatables on sale. Their inland vest, at $69, is lightweight and adequate for any situation that anyone might be in while fishing. I have seen them cheaper, but $30 off their usual $99 isn't too bad a price for anyone that is interested.
Thank you,Thank you!
 
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