I’m coming late to this thread, but the importance of wearing PFDs (I prefer life jacket or life vest, because they reference “life”, which these items protect) is very dear to my heart.
There’s been reference to “recreational” and “expedition” models. Those are not really helpful terms in the discussion, because they mean different things to different people. If you choose a US Coast Guard Approved model, it’ll probably fall into one of two categories: Type III (the most common choice) or Type V (special use models, rescue, commercial use, etc. The inflatables fall in here).
Those of us who spend time on the water do many things and any one life jacket won’t meet everyone’s needs. There are literally dozens of models on the market, with different fit profiles, features and benefits. It may take a boater some considerable looking to find their perfect model, but it’s out there. And, forums like this are great for spreading the news about models that work for different sports and uses.
The Coast Guard is fond of answering the question, “What’s the best life jacket,” with “The one you have on when you need it.” That’s why it’s so important to find one that meets your needs for features and performance and is comfortable for all-day wear.
As to inflatable models, they have their place but also have limitations. Before choosing that as your form of life protection, visualize the worst scenarios that you would need it in and decide whether you’d be able to activate and don it when things go seriously south. This is one of those “you bet your life” sorts of questions.
By all means, I urge everyone who ventures out into the water world to always wear their personal flotation device. I hate reading those death notices.
Boat Often, Boat Safe,