Auto inflatable pfd

Is there any reason a person shouldn’t use auto inflatable pfds on calm waters? We have several in our fishing boats and they are very comfortable and reliable. I always wear one even in my larger boats but considered getting something different for the canoe. Any thoughts?

My thoughts…

– Last Updated: Dec-11-10 10:41 PM EST –

If you use inflatable pfds as your subject, and check out the pnet archives; you'll find about 300 responses to the same questions you have.

More responses than your inquiry will get.


Tear a bag out of your auto, strap it on

All your response needed was a rimshot on a snare drum.

Damn! That was cold blooded.


Do you want pockets?
I carry stuff in my PFD that’d be with me if I got separated from my boat. Laser flare, signal mirror, whistle, a couple of packages of Gu and/or a nut bar, the water bladder, knife, compass and a case with matches in it (actually it’s the whistle). Most auto inflatables don’t have that capacity. I don’t know that you feel you need this, but if you do decide you like pockets a more traditional paddling vest may work better.

I’d just watched the old SNL with Ralph
Nader, where one of the gals hugs him and an air bag goes off from his chest.

Depends much on where you paddle and in what conditions. In rough water/surf kayaks arn’t exactly dry boats, awfully easy for the auto feature to self inflate right when it’s less than convenient.

If you only paddle on nice days of flat water, they’ll work fine.

Bill H.

Seen that happen
My buddy Pat launched into 3 foot surf with an auto inflatable PFD on once about 10 years ago. And as soon as a wave hit him, it went off.

I was outside the break, and saw his bow pierce the wave, and then a large yellow object with Pat’s face in the middle of it came up, and he was yelling “What the F#$%K???”.

I still laugh when I think about it.

I didn’t realize
this subject had been beaten to death and forgot about the archives. The main reason for asking is my wife is large chested(dd) and can’t find a paddling vest she is comfortable in. She is only weighs about 135 so if they fit in the chest they are too big on the lower half. Can any ladies on here recommend a good vest to help her out?

Perhaps this one?
I don’t have that issue, but here’s one that one larger chested woman I know of uses. It might be worth a look for your wife. Stohlquist BetSea.

One advantage of sorts you have is that, at 135 pounds (my weight), she can easily afford to go with a PFD that has legal but not over the top flotation.

they fit lower than your typical PFD.

Non inflatable, women’s pfds
Agree with kayakmedic; check out Astral Design pfds. In particular, the Abba model, designed with women in mind.

Also take a close look at the pfds designed for women by MTI. In particular, the Maya, PFDiva, and the Mona Lisa models.


Autoinflate on "calm waters"
Why not?

Other than the unintended inflation possibility discussed, the vest should provide the required protection with less restriction, and is certainly better than wearing nothing.

One thought
Every analysis I came across on boater boards (as in motor craft or sail boats) was that the inflatables like the OPer mentioned do require more care than foam PFD’s. If the start of this problem is not a desire for inflatables perse, but concerns about the fit of typical PFD’s, the better course might be to first see if the fit issue can be solved. There isn’t much need to be fussy or careful with them.

This seems likely considering the number of option stated above.

For this reason
"My buddy Pat launched into 3 foot surf with an auto inflatable PFD on once about 10 years ago. And as soon as a wave hit him, it went off."

You don’t want an auto inflating PFD. I use a manual inflating one from Mustang Survial during the Summer heat then switch to an Astral V-8 with the cooler weather.

Except if you go in twice
If it auto inflates the first time and the wearer continues on the trip chances are that they wont want to wear it inflated. So down it goes. If there is a second capsize, what then? Sure you can manually inflate it but that requires a little calm in a storm and that might not happen for everyone.

We use inflatables in FreeStyle classes with the understanding that once inflated the wearer has to change the cartridge at least.

states that the inflator has to be rearmed after each immersion.

That said I do wear an inflatable with my drysuit and Michelin Man layers of fleece. I have gone in several times and there is so much air even in a burped drysuit that I have not had to pull the CO2 ripcord (its not automatic) nor inflate with breaths. In this case the device is just extra insurance.

No one can tell you whats best for your wife. Its up to you two but perhaps this all gives you something to consider.

Take the test…
Find sharp object, jab sharp object forcefully into inflatable & non-inflatable pfd.

Test floatability of both pfds in 12 feet of water, for 15 minutes, while wearing them.


Astral Bella
Astral’s Bella is their most current women’s specific model. Typically the best fitting model for almost all body types. The part of the PFD that secures to the waist is totally separate from the chest panel. This allows a somewhat separate fit of the chest and waist. It also has a built in adjustable sports bra.