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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:56 am 
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Inflatable pfds? Not for me!

Granted an inflatable pfd is better than nothing if it is the only kind you will use, but here are a few other considerations. that led me to buy and wear a good quality foam pfd all the time when I am on the water.

Inflatable pfds depend on the FLAWLESS operation of three (3) separate manmade systems: (1) the in-water or submerged detector / activator– mechanical or chemical, (2) the inflation mechanism / CO2 cartridge, and (3) the intact float bladders. Plus it depends on the FLAWLESS operation of your Mark One human brain to do regular and correct maintenance.

The activators must be regularly replaced and cannot be tested to see if they work without destroying them or having to replace them with the next - untestable - unit.. Are you changing the battery in your smoke detectors every year? Do you want to find out you have a problem when you wind up in the drink? Do you ever want to have to tell anyone “it looked like it was okayâ€


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:19 pm 
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Location: Tallahassee, FL
Hey Don,
Although I use a Stearns inflatable from KFS that I really like, I have to agree with you about their downside. The question I always pose is what if you flip, get thrown out, and hit your head on the gunnel along the way? Might be a bit difficult to find, and pull that toggle when you're unconscious!

Hmm, OK--guess I better start searching again for a good non-inflatable--any suggestions out there from those who have a good one that doesn't require a double seat to carry it (and you)?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:45 am 
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Location: GA
What about the Hybrid from Kokatat? Best of both worlds?!.. Any one out there using one?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:40 am 
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after having been choked by my inflatable pfd while attempting to recover from a sailing capsize i only keep it as an emergency inflatable life raft.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:10 pm 
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I asked Mario, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer to weigh in and for permission to re-post. Thanks, Mario!

“Note: The statements that follow are my personal views, and in no way represent official reccomendations from my employer .....I just feel like I should say that. Having said that, I'm ususally right about stuff like this ..

Inflatable or not?

Absolute personal preference. With kayakers, it is almost a forgone conclusion that they wear PFD's, the chances of getting wet are much greater than on larger craft so you guys tend to be a more safety concious lot....however...there are always people who just plain don't like wearing PFDs, usually for reasons of comfort.

Traditional floatation is bulky by design and bulky means warm (or hot) and some people are what I call comfort sissies. "It's too hot...wahh.." For them, inflatable pfd's offer a typically more comfortable choice.

BOTH have advantages and disadvantages (of course):

Traditional PFD's are almost NEVER as bouyant as an inflatable (once inflated of course). The one I wear at work will hold me up, and a 200 lb friend quite easily. Try that with your traditional.

Inflatables have the disadvantages Don spoke of, but saying that a device is inhearently unsafe because it might break (not inflate, leak, etc.) is like saying my car is unreliable because the brakes might fail. True, they might, but my brakes are important so I maintain them. So too my inflatable. Negligence is always dangerous, so if you wear an inflatable...you know...take care of it.

Most of them have dual bladders, so punch a hole in one side, and the other takes over. I have seen plenty of inflatable PFDs in full emergency use, used by people doing a lot harsher work than a day paddle, and I've never seem one fail.

Having said that, I've definitely never seen a traditional one fail either (duh).

So whats the deal? Its all about risk versus gain...no surprise there. I prefer inflatables,(for bouyancy reasons and prior to inflation, I can dive underwater if needed) but I am a very well trained water guy with seriously good gear (that someone else (you) pays for). My daughter has to wear a traditional...thats how I manage that risk.

How you do it is up to you. If you feel comfortable with an inflatable, and you maitain it well, you are just as safe as a person wearing a traditional in my opinion.

"But what if I go unconsious when my head hits a rock on the way ....etc. etc. and the bladder doesn't inflate?...what if it leaks?" Well, then your in a mess. What if flies carried machine guns?

Frogs wouldn't mess with them.â€


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:38 pm 
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Location: Tallahassee, FL
Hey Don,
Good info from Mario--thanks for re-posting it. Always good to hear the opinion of someone who has been there, done that. Guess I will stick with my Stearns inflatable at least until I can find a traditional that I like just as well (or at least until skeeters get automatic weapons.) :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:54 pm 
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Question remains what risk is acceptable to you: whether to assume in an emergency you, and those around you, can count on having physical capabilities more like a young, strong, experienced rescue swimmer – or more like those of the young daughter he chooses to protect?

Tough call? Your call.


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