Inflatable PFD Advice

What is the best inexpensive inflatable PFD that you know of. I am looking at the Eyson Inflatable Basic, around $59. Does anybody know anything about this particular PFD…Thanks, mjac

Edit: On advice from “mike93lx” lets rephrase this. What is the best inflatable PFD for the money that you know of.

I don’t know anything about the Eyeson, but looking at one of the many ebay listings for it, it’s clearly a “direct from China” item and I don’t see any sign that it’s US Coast Guard approved. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, and it does use a larger 33g CO2 cartridge and claims to be convertible between automatic and manual inflation. But sometimes you get what you pay for.

I have the Inshore inflatable PFD from West Marine. They’re $110 now, but I got mine on sale for $50 a few years ago. It could be made in China for all I know, but the West Marine brand and US Coast Guard approval do give me more confidence in it.

Do you want a pfd that inflates automatically? If so, keep in mind that even if you get slightly dunked while getting in and out of your kayak, it will inflate. The more expensive hydrostatic type pfds won’t inflate until the sensor cartridge goes a few inches under water which would help somewhat. I chose to set my pfd for manual inflation only.

I should mention that using an inflatable does introduce extra risk. What if it doesn’t inflate? What if you’re unconscious? What if you’re too disoriented to use it? In my case, I feel I’m a confident swimmer, and I spent years windsurfing where you learn to get slammed into the water. For windsurfing, it’s actually better not to have too much buoyancy because you want to hide below the surface so that the rig doesn’t come crashing down onto your head. I also believe I could keep myself safely afloat if I had to manually inflate a PFD by mouth. But no matter what, I still put myself at greater risk using the inflatable PFD versus a conventional one.

For what use? Kayaking? Paddle boarding?

My understanding is that the one you’re looking at runs very small, and - more importantly - is not Coast Guard approved.

A PFD really isn’t the sort of thing you should be looking to go cheap on.

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I get saving money, but with safety gear, that shouldn’t be the priority

It is not Coast Guard approved, as you said. Why they would not seek that if they arte in the US market, I do not know. But it does not seem to bother the verified purchasers, their reviews seem pretty positive and one guy responded to my question and said he was happy with his. So I do not know. I want an inflatable for the comfort, but don’t feel like dumping $150 on a vest right now if I can help it. You situation catching a sale would be ideal, but there is some water I really want to Kayak and I need a PFD so the Park people don’t harass me after I got special permission to use the park. Don’t want to spit in their face.

I am with you, I want a straight manual, one less mechanism to worry about and the recharge kit is about $22…Take Care

I apologize, strictly for Kayaking. Want an inflatable for the overall comfort and lack of bulk. Like I said to “Wolf,” I know it is not Coast Guard Approved but that does not seem to bother the verified purchasers who have given it pretty favorable reviews and I posted a question about quality on Amazon and a purchaser responded that he likes his. So, I do not know.

Maybe should not be looking cheap, but do not want to spend money I do not have to spend. You can pay big bucks and still get something that does not work. What I am looking for is the inflatable PFD that is the best value for the money. If I have set my price too low that is another issue…Thanks,mjac

Since it’s not Coast Guard approved, in order to be legal, you will need to carry another PFD besides this one. An inflatable must be worn ,but since this one isn’t Coast Guard approved, it is’t a legal PFD anyway. A regular Coast Guard approved PFD can be just carried , in most states, and still be legal.

Like I told “kfbrady,” what I am looking for is the best inflatable PFD for the money. Sometimes that is high and sometimes that is low. This might be a high quality item for the money. I do not know. That is why I am asking if anyone has had actual experience with them, especially since it is not Coast Guard approved. For example: I found some cycling shorts on a recommendation that were ridiculously cheap That from their price you would think could not possibly be any good. They are superior and better then shorts that cost hundreds of dollars retail that I tried…Thanks,mjac

they aren’t seeking it because they don’t care and don’t want to spend the money.

how do you know that anyone labeled as a “verified purchaser” actually owns it and has ever needed to use it? that “verified purchaser” could be a rep for the company.

I would be less trusting of online reviews, especially when it involves your safety.

I am a trusting person. One guy responded to my question about quality and said he has one and likes it like I stated above. That is all I got. Maybe I can research the company a little bit.

Your analogy fails because bicycling shorts aren’t (at I least I hope!) something that your life could depend on.

I own an inflatable PFD, “Hobie” branded (and USCG approved) but I haven’t used it in years. It was the first one I ever bought but I stopped using it when I realized its limitations. Since then I’ve worn a high-backed regular type III PFD and I hardly notice I’m wearing it. And I can do a kayak reentry with it on!

You should always try a PFD on before buying, prerably in your kayak. NRS makes a very decent, USCG approved one for $80…

I did not know that. The Coast Guard is not going to bother me for what I am going to do with it and where I will be going, but another poster just pointed out the limitations of an inflatable. If it does not provide the level of safety you need, why wear it, looks? And in this case it does not even make you legal and you will potentially use it for other things. May have to rethink this.

Not trying to be argumentative, but despite the safety differences, the analogy holds. ( in addition to your shorts having your life in its hands after so many miles) There are things across the spectrum,including safety, that can be had at a modest price that are of very high quality and there are things at a very high price that’s are functionally useless and you are paying for marketing. That is not going to happen.

Now back to important matters. Not being experienced in this, I assumed an inflatable PFD offered a great deal more comfort and freedom of movement. You are saying there is not in well designed PFDs. I did not know this. So a good standard Type III is similar in comfort and offers much more actual safety. Something to consider. I am concerned about it being hotter. It gets hot here.

I live in a hot climate and use an Astral V8 like many paddlers here. As cool as as PFD can get . Very comfortable.

So a standard Type III vest can be just as comfortable as an inflatable, just as cool and provide more safety.(I checked out the Astral) That just blows all the perceived advantages of an inflatable right out of the water. Back to square one.Thanks a lot. I thought I was making progress.

You are indeed making progress!

Inflatables can work, but you’re extremely dependent upon that CO2 cartridge. You have to activate it manually (as previously mentioned you don’t want an automatic) and once it has fired and then deflated you’re left with manual inflation only. The biggest issue is that when they are inflated they are extremely clumsy and if you are out of your boat they really impede getting back in.

You say you are in a hot climate. That would also make me be concerned about the cartridge. A PFD is not something you ever want to be constantly worried about and with a regular Type III model you can just wear it and forget it. Plus, most will have ample pocket space for a whistle, a knife, etc. Oh, and I live on the South Carolina coast; it gets pretty hot here too.

Good luck with your choice.

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Something, which I did not see mentioned in this thread:

A lot of kayakers spend time in the water on purpose. We want to train or rescue skills, want some cooling, or were just testing our limits one notch too far. In these circumstances, the slight buoyancy from a swim west is actually very helpful because you don’t have to do anything to keep your head over water.

With an inflatable, you will not have that help. And you will not inflate it in such circumstances, because then you have to replace the cartridge.

Okay, that seals it, inflatables can kiss my grits. If they pop off, they impede self rescue and if the CO2 is faulty it won”t even do that.

Is the Astral V8 the coolest standard Type III vest. If so, that is what I want. I do not want overheating to ruin the trip.

Overheating is largely an issue for people who want to kayak without getting wet, or for racers. Most paddlers are not in the racing bunch. Or maybe people who want to paddle on a 98 degree day in Florida.

If you can’t roll dump water on your head. If you can roll but don’t want to fully immerse use a static brace. If you learn to roll it is altogether the most effective cooling off technique.

If getting wet is a major problem I am not clear what anyone is doing in a kayak.

The coast guard isn’t going to bother anyone inland. But your state’s environmental police sure could. They are the ones that will enforce laws on rivers/lakes/ponds.