Aging of PFD's?

I’m looking for other’s opinions, knowledge on this subject.

I just bought a new PFD after looking at them for quite awhile. I went to a large retail outfitter in the area and found the one I want in a different color than I’d seen it anywhere else. I paid full retail price for it. I thought it was new for this year. When I got home I looked on the mfr’s website and they didn’t have the “new” color so I wrote them to inquire about it.

Anyway, turns out it’s not a new color. It’s not even last year’s color. This color was last manufactured for the 2003 season. I just bought it and it is two years old.

Ironically, almost two years ago a salesperson at this same retailer told me they had marked down PFD’s that were the same style as others on the rack at full price because they were old and they have a “shelf-life”.

I’ve read that PFD’s generally last about 3-5 years .

Does buying a two-year old PFD mean I have already lost some of its life?




has it got a nylon outer?
the foam ones tend to last forever but are a little more pricey. the ones which have nylon material on the outside eventually rot, but that’s easy to check for. kept out of the sun either should last a many years.

Understand your annoyance, but
don’t worry. I’m using a five year old Lotus Sherman right now, and it shows no sign of aging whatsoever.

The Nylon on old Flotherchocs (shows my age) and Omegas was light taffeta, and would deteriorate in sun, but my Flotherchocs lasted about ten years before the nylon got too sketchy.

There may be slow, slight loss of gas from the foam flotation, but again, it is ususally too slow to detect over several years. Just don’t sit on your jacket, or subject it to a super-hot car interior at high altitude.

I don’t know where you heard that PFDs have to be replaced after five years. A type 3 PFD, cared for properly, might last twice as long. However, PFDs are constantly improving, and after you have one for five years, you may want to replace it just to get better fit and features.

I expect
that two or three years, out of the sun, is irrelivant. I had a camo PFD that I finally trashed after nearly 20 years because the floatation was crumbling. I’ve got a couple “spares” (remember blue hole?) that I’ve had probably 20 years as well that are in great shape, way out of style and not as functional as todays PFD’s but they still float me nicely. Now as to being sold as “new” a two year old PFD… I’d like to talk to the manager of the store about that.

Extrasport Retro Glide

– Last Updated: Jan-13-05 10:06 PM EST –

It has a nylon outer. Nice PFD, but for $130, it should be hot off the production line.
I haven't decided what to do about it yet. I've written to Extrasport ( and I think they will offer to swap it out for a new one. I am awaiting another response from them. I do want to make sure that the store is made aware of what I consider to be pretty underhanded sales tactics. IMO this should've been reduced last year, let alone still selling full price two seasons later! And this is not some hole-in-the-wall small place. It is one of the largest sporting goods outfitters in the area.

I have two vests
that are 2001 models, one purchased last year and the other this year.

I prefer their design and fitment over the current versions. New is not always better. Often, model changes in vests involve colour and not much else. I am not concerned about their age as they were new-in-the-box and never exposed to the elements. Such exposure is what ages the vests.

My vests are always kept clean and treated wsith 303 fabric protectant. I fully expect to realise many years of good service from these Lotus PFDs.

They are thoroughly examined twice annually, once in the spring and again in the fall. I never leave them out in the sun or locked up in a hot vehicle compartment, at least for extended periods of time.

If you like the way the vest fits, performs, and appearance I’d recommend keeping it.

The store did not sell you the vest under the guise of it being this year’s model did they? If not, I do not see where you have a beef with the seller.



Why don’t you go to them…
…and give them a chance to do the right thing?

I’m told that in use
a foam pfd loses about 3%/year of floatation/

That’s what I"ve got.

Thanks for the responses. I wanted to hear what others knew about this aging thing.

Here’s a link that states 3-5 years “of use”.

I doubt I’d feel this way if not that a salesperson from the very same store told me about them discounting the one I was buying last year because it was not “this year’s model”.

The sales support person from Extrasport e-mailed me and offered to swap it, but at this point, I do think I will go back to the store and see what their take is.

Good to know it’s going to last me a good long time.

Actually my kids
are using PFD’s that my folks bought for me when i ws their age. I test em semi annually , and they still work great.

More concerned about Price
I would be more concerned about the price.

A two year old PFD should have been marked down, even if it was new. Generally, you can find great discounts on many prior year models (30-50%) in paddling stores and online. Maybe brick and mortar stores should be able to charge more for the services, but this seems excessive.

If the tags are still on it and its unused, I would return it.

With Flotherchoks
you knew to replace when >50% of the air cells were partially filled with water.


HA ha, yes, the Coast Guard never liked
those little vinyl flotation cells in Flotherchocs. They reasoned one might run into a cactus during a long swim. The only thing I had against my Flotherchocs was the backwards zipper.

Forgot about the zip!
That was obnoxious. But Flotherckoks made decent pillows.


UV light and heat
are the enemies of the materials used to make PFDs.

A PFD that has been hanging on a rack inside a climate controlled store for two years should be perfectly fine, in fact probably “as good as new”.

So, if you like the color and features, and it fits well you can use it without worry. Maybe just a bit of annoyance that you could have gotten a better deal on it.

Be flexible when you go back to the store. Getting cash-in-hand might be difficult, but you could probably negotiate a significant discount on some additional stuff.